Removing or archiving content

When online material reaches the end of its useful life, it must undergo appraisal to determine how it will be archived or otherwise disposed of in accordance with a Disposal Authority. Disposal authorities represent authorisation from the Chief Archivist to dispose of public records in accordance with acceptable procedures.

Web-based content due to be retired can generally be stored electronically offline, marked as an archive and retained online, transferred to an archive such as the National Library’s New Zealand Web Archive, or destroyed. You should consult your records management advisers for advice when you are planning to retire web-based information or remove it from the web.

Giving consideration to the points on this page will help you ensure that you are in line with good practice when declaring content as an archive for historical purposes or removing it from public access.

Ownership and authority

  • Content scheduled for removal should be appraised to determine how it is to be archived or disposed of.
  • Web content and personal information that has been collected should be captured before removal from the web. It can be destroyed or archived under the agency Disposal Authority (for records relating to core agency business) or General Disposal Authority (for administrative or transient records).
  • Web teams should work with information or records management staff to develop appropriate strategies for managing content and personal information that no longer needs to be accessible over the web.

Privacy protection

  • When retiring content or a site that stores users’ personal information, ensure that the personal information is disposed of securely and appropriately under a Disposal Authority, or retained securely. It should not be maintained in any publicly-accessible archive. Consult your records management advisers for advice.
  • A copy of the personal information that users supplied, along with the log of access to that information and any logged-in transactions should be held securely. Consult your privacy and security advisers in such cases.

Accuracy and validity

  • The National Library Web Archive periodically harvests the whole New Zealand domain. When combined with version histories and change logs maintained by agencies, this can help in re-creating an accurate point-in-time record of the content of a website or service.
  • If you are planning to remove content or sections of content from sites, consult with the Web Archive Team at National Library to schedule a harvest of your site before content is removed.
  • Note that there is some content that the Web Archive cannot consume. This includes some interactive content and password-protected areas of a site. You should determine what aspects of your content this affects with Web Archive staff, and consult with your records management advisers to identify the most appropriate means of permanently archiving such content.
  • If you don't use the Web Archive for archiving content or web sites, you need to make archives complete with metadata and versioning information in such a way that a point-in-time snapshot can be accurately recreated if needed. This might include a full copy of all code used on the site and a full copy of the database/s it uses.
  • You should ensure that content databases are stored with all versioning information, where available.
  • You should store the archive securely and complete with any transaction logs necessary to recreate a point-in-time snapshot.
  • If you choose to leave archived content in place on a website, it should be clearly marked in an accessible manner as archived content that is no longer maintained. You should indicate the date it was archived and state that it should only be used for historical reference purposes. Refer to the Web Accessibility Standard for the definition of an archived page.

Usability

When removing content or websites, leave content in place for a defined period to advise users that it has been removed, and link them to an archive copy or alternative source of information.

More information