Skip to Main Content

The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Research Data Management

Best practices and tools for managing your research data.

File Formats for Long-Term Preservation and Reuse

When possible, file types for a project should be standard, non-proprietary, and open source. If these features are not possible, file format selection should be made with the suggested preferences of a digital archive in mind, or with an eye to the format with the greatest stability, longest period of usage, most widespread community, and most organized governing body for standards.

Analysis software often relies on proprietary file formats that are subject to obsolescence as new versions are created or tools lose relevance. Where possible, export data files to stable formats for long-term preservation, or convert proprietary files into equivalent standardized files that will be able to represent that data for preservation purposes.


Common File Types for Data Archiving and Preservation


Text Files


Tabular files


Media Files


Geospatial files