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Archivematica Quick-Start Guide

This guide walks you through the Archivematica transfer and ingest process for testing purposes. It is intended for people who are new to Archivematica and looking to test it out. This is not a guide to install Archivematica for development or production - please see Installation for full installation instructions. Before you start, you should know a bit about the OAIS Reference Model enough that the acronyms SIP, AIP, and DIP make sense.

This guide runs through the basic actions taken on a standard transfer and does not cover Archivematica’s advanced features. For information about processing more complex content, see the User manual. The instructions below are applicable to both the sandbox and an Archivematica virtual machine, unless otherwise noted.

By the end of this walkthrough, you will be able to:

  • Create a standard transfer in Archivematica
  • Create an AIP and a DIP from the transfer
  • Review file identification
  • Review file normalization
  • Automate an Archivematica pipeline

On this page:

Task #0 - Set up your Archivematica test instance

If you do not have access to a full installation of Archivematica, there are two options for testing the software - the hosted Archviematica sandbox or a locally-installed Archivematica VM.

Using the sandbox

Artefactual maintains an Archivematica sandbox with the following credentials:

The sandbox is provided as an easy way to test the latest release of Archivematica. Please note that the website will automatically reset daily. Any packages that you create will not be permanently saved. Additionally, there may be more than one demo user logged in at the same time, so you may see changes made by others while you are using the software.

The demo site is publicly edited and unmoderated. For security, test transfers are limited to Artefactual’s provided sample data. Users who wish to test using their own data may download the Vagrant box (described below) and test locally.


If you are using the sandbox, you can move on to Task #1.

Installing on a virtual machine using Vagrant


This virtual machine is not intended to be used in production. It targets developers or experienced users willing to try out Archivematica using Vagrant. If you want to start using Archivematica in production, please refer to the other methods of installations explained under this manual.

This guide will set up a new Oracle VirtualBox virtual machine with Archivematica installed on your computer. It works on most operating systems, including MacOS X, Linux, Windows, FreeBSD and others.

Minimum system requirements: 4GB RAM; 10GB disk space.

Install Vagrant and VirtualBox

  1. Install VirtualBox from (or use your package manager). VirtualBox 5.2.18 or newer is required.
  2. Install Vagrant from (or use your package manager). Vagrant 2.1.4 or newer is required.

Spin it up

  1. Using your computer’s command-line interface, create a new directory and open it. The location doesn’t matter, but you’ll need to return to it later - all further command line operations should be run from inside the directory. Also, if you add some folders to it, they will be available under local-transfers.

    mkdir archivematica-vagrant && cd archivematica-vagrant
  2. Initialize the current directory to be a Vagrant environment.

    vagrant init artefactual/archivematica
  3. Run Vagrant (again, from the same directory where you saved the Vagrantfile).

    vagrant up

Vagrant will download our custom box and boot it in VirtualBox. The download can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the speed of your connection, as the box is fairly large (approx 3.4 GB in size).

This will take a while. It depends on your computer, but it could take up to an hour. Your computer may be very slow while Archivematica is being provisioned - be sure to save any work and be prepared to step away from your computer while Archivematica is building.

Once it’s done provisioning, you can log in to your virtual machine:

vagrant ssh

You can now access your Archivematica instance through the web browser:

Task #1 - Start a standard transfer

A transfer is any set of one or more files that you decide to process as a group. It can come from any storage system to which Archivematica has been connected. To start your first transfer, go to the Archivematica transfer dashboard - the main page of either the Archivematica sandbox or your Archivematica VM. You can also access the transfer page by clicking on the Transfer tab in your Archivematica instance.

The transfer process is made up of a series of microservices, which are in turn made up of jobs.


A microservice is a group of actions that accomplish a specific goal within Archivematica. Verifying that your transfer complies with Archivematica’s transfer requirements is a microservice.


A job is a discrete action within a microservice. Moving the contents of your transfer to a processing directory is a job.

Each microservice can be expanded if you click on the microservice name. This allows you to see every job that makes up the microservice. You can view the command for each job by clicking on the gear icon to the right of each job name which will open a new window that lists the command information. Clicking on Show arguments will list the exact python command that Archivematica uses to run the job.

Jobs turn green when they have completed successfully and red if they fail.


  1. Make sure ‘Standard’ is selected in the transfer type box.
  2. Type in a name for your transfer (anything you like).
  3. Click on browse to look through the available content. Make sure to click on the folder icon to expand the directory trees.
  4. Find the images directory in SampleTransfers and click Add.
  5. The selected directory will be displayed below the selection box.
  6. Click on the green Start transfer button to start the transfer.
  7. When prompted, make decisions as you wish; however, don’t select anything that would stop the transfer (i.e. anything that says “Reject”). For more information about the decision points, check out the transfer tab documentation.
  8. When you reach the Identify file format microservice, stop and read the next section.

Review file formats

You do not need to consult the command for every job, but we do recommend taking a look at the output of the Identify file format microservice. One of Archivematica’s most important jobs is to identify file formats and then preserve those files as best as possible.


  1. When you are prompted, select Yes to identify file formats.
  2. Once file format identification is complete, click on the gear icon to the right of the job name to open the job page.
  3. On the job page, under the heading STDOUT, you will see information similar to the following:
IDCommand UUID: 8cc792b4-362d-4002-8981-a4e808c04b24
File: (9305a71e-5180-4c49-b93e-c934d7a433dc) /var/archivematica/sharedDirectory/currentlyProcessing/demo-test-f706d98d-faa6-450f-92c7-b608f1106f2e/objects/pictures/MARBLES.TGA

Command output: fmt/402
/var/archivematica/sharedDirectory/currentlyProcessing/demo-test-f706d98d-faa6-450f-92c7-b608f1106f2e/objects/pictures/MARBLES.TGA identified as a Truevision TGA Bitmap 2.0

The above tells us that the file MARBLES.TGA was identified as a Truevision TGA Bitmap 2.0. Archivematica uses PRONOM, a registry of technical information maintained by the National Archives of the UK, for file identification and to inform normalization, characterization, and other file-manipulation events. Archivematica identifies a TGA file as fmt/402 (format 402), which is the PRONOM format identifier for a Truvision TGA Bitmap 2.0. There should be a similar STDOUT section for each item in your transfer.

Archivematica will continue processing your transfer in the background. When you reach the Create SIP from Transfer microservice, read the next section.

Create a SIP

The final microservice on the Transfer tab is Create SIP from Transfer. The final job, Create SIP(s), allows you to either proceed directly to the Ingest tab or to send the transfer to the backlog. For more information on the backlog, check out the backlog documentation.


  1. When prompted, select Create single SIP and continue processing.

Task #2 - Make AIPs and DIPs

The primary function of Archivematica is to produce Archival Information Packages (AIPs) and Dissemination Information Packaes (DIPs) from SIPs. You just created a SIP on the Transfer tab. The Ingest tab is where you run microservices that create the AIP and the DIP.


  1. Click on the Ingest tab.
  2. Make decisions as required (again, don’t select anything that says “Reject”). For more information about the decision points that appear during ingest, check out the ingest tab documentation.
  3. When you get to the Normalize decision point, stop and read the next section.


Ingest, like Transfer, is also made up of a series of microservices. The most significant microservice that takes place during ingest is Normalize. Normalization is the process of converting your digital content into appropriate formats for long-term storage (for an AIP) and access (for a DIP). When you reach the Normalization microservice, you will be prompted to decide how you would like to normalize your content.


  1. Select Normalize for preservation and access when prompted. By selecting this option, you are telling Archivematica that you would like to create a preservation copy (AIP) and an access copy (DIP) of the contents of your SIP.
  2. Once normalization is complete, you will be prompted to approve normalization. Before selecting approve, click on the small page icon next to the drop down menu.
  3. The Normalization Report will open in a separate tab. Information on how to read this report is included below.
  4. In your main tab, click on the Preservation Planning tab at the top of the page. When the Preservation Planning tab is open, search for “SVG” (or whatever file format you would like to review). Click on the name of the file format.
  5. You should now have two tabs open - the Normalization Report and the Preservation Planning page. Go back to the Normalization Report and review the next two sections.

Reviewing normalization for preservation

The Normalization Report details whether or not normalization was attempted on the contents of your SIP. This screenshot shows the report for lion.svg, identified as a Scalable Vector Graphic, with the preservation columnns highlighted.

A row of the Normalization Report with the preservation columns indicated by a red box.

If you return to the Preservation Planning tab where you searched for SVG, you can see that SVG files are considered a preservation format. Therefore, the Normalization Report indicates the following:

  • Preservation normalization was attempted.
  • Preservation normalization did not fail.
  • The image was already in a preservation format.

Essentially, this means that preservation normalization kicked off, but Archivematica realized that the file was already in a preservation format and so no action was taken.

Reviewing normalization for access

This screenshot shows the report for lion.svg with the access columnns highlighted.

A row of the Normalization Report with the access columns indicated by a red box.

For access normalization, the report indicates the following:

  • Access normalization was attempted.
  • Access normalization did not fail.
  • The image was not in an access format.

To review what this means for lion.svg, we’ll dig a little deeper into the Preservation Planning tab.


  1. Navigate back to the Preservation Planning tab.
  2. Scroll down and find the Normalization section in the left-hand sidebar. Click on Rules.
  3. Search for “Scalable Vector Graphics” (or whatever file format you are analyzing).

The results show the Access and Normalization rules for SVG files. Under the Command column we can see that the preferred access format for an SVG is PDF. Archivematica follows these rules to create access copies, so we can infer from the Normalization Report that a PDF copy of the SVG file has been successfully created for the DIP. You can confirm this by checking the command output for the Normalize for access job (similar to how you checked the command output for Identify file format, above) or by reviewing the DIP once it has been stored.

Continue processing your ingest, stopping when you reach the AIP and DIP decision points.

Task #3 - Store AIPs and DIPs

Archivematica is a tool for creating packages. In a production environment, storage occurs externally to Archivematica in a storage system selected by the user or institution, but for the sake of this demo we’ll store our AIP and DIP in Archivematica’s default internal storage.

AIPs should always be stored first. Because the packages are smaller, storage options for DIPs are usually the first to appear, so it’s tempting to store them right away. However, if anything goes wrong with your AIP, you would then have to delete the DIP from the storage and access systems. Dealing with the AIP first allows you to store and provide access to DIPs knowing that that the AIP is secure.


  1. Process your ingest until the Store AIP and Upload DIP microservices prompt you for a decision point.
  2. Select “Store AIP” from the Store AIP dropdown.
  3. In a moment, another decision point will prompt you to select a storage location for your AIP. There should only be one option - “Store AIP in standard Archivematica directory”. Select this option.
  4. Once the AIP is stored successfully, you can move on to dealing with the DIP. Neither a locally-installed Archivematica VM nor the sandbox is hooked up to an access system, so under Upload DIP select “Store DIP”.
  5. You will be prompted to select a storage location for your DIP. There should only be one option - “Store DIP in standard Archivematica directory”. Select this option.

Your AIP and DIP are now stored in Archivematica’s internal storage. The Archivematica workflow is complete!

Task #4 - Review AIPs and DIPs

Now that your AIP and DIP have been stored, they can be reviewed.

Review AIP


  1. Click on the Archival Storage tab. You should see your AIP listed in the search results there, but if not, you can search for it using the name you gave it in Task #1.
  2. Depending on the version of Archivematica you are using, clicking on the name of the AIP will either open the AIP Details page or immediately download the AIP. If you end up on the AIP Details page, click on the ‘download’ button.
  3. Once it’s downloaded, open the AIP. You will need to use a program capable of opening 7zip files installed on your computer. If required, you can download 7Zip here:
  4. Once you have the AIP extracted, navigate through the folders until you find the objects directory. This directory contains the original images from your transfer as well as the preservation copies. You can compare the file formats in the objects directory to the rules in the Preservation Planning tab.
  5. Navigate through the folders until you find the METS file and open it in a web browser or text editor. It will be titled something like “METS.7e58760a-e357-4165-9428-26f5bb2ba8ee.xml”.
  6. Find the <mets:fileSec> tag in the METS. Within the fileSec, you should be able to find information about every item in your original transfer - these are in the section tagged <mets:fileGrp USE=”original”>. Scrolling down, you can view complementary information for each of the preservation copies - this is in the section tagged <mets:fileGrp USE=”preservation”>.

The METS.xml file is very long because it contains all of the information about your files as well as information about the processes and tools that acted on those original files. For more information about the contents and structure of the METS file, check out the METS page in the metadata section.

Review DIP


This section is only applicable to those using a VM. The Archivematica sandbox does not allow access to the Storage Service.


  1. In order to retrieve the DIP, you need to access the Archivematica Storage Service. Add “:8000” to the end of your Archivematica VM’s URL (i.e.
  2. In the Storage Service, click on the Packages tab.
  3. On the far right side of the page there is a search box. Search for your DIP by entering the name you gave it in Task #1.
  4. You should see two results. One is your AIP and the other is the DIP, indicated under the “Type” column.
  5. Once you’ve identified which file is your DIP, click on “Download”.
  6. Once it’s downloaded, open the DIP. You will need to use a program capable of opening tar files installed on your computer. 7Zip, mentioned above, can open TAR files:
  7. Once you have the DIP extracted, open the objects directory. This directory contains the access copies derived from your original images. You can compare the file formats in the objects directory to the rules in the Preservation Planning tab.
  8. The DIP also contains a thumbnails directory, which has small JPG versions of your images. If the image could not be converted to a JPG (as is the case with an SVG file), a generic icon is included instead.

Task #5 - Automate workflow through configuration

Clicking on the Administration tab opens up Archivematica’s processing configurations screen, the most basic way of automating Archivematica. Each of the decision points that you encountered during the Archivematica test that you ran in Steps #1 to #3 can be automated on this page. This is mostly used if you know you will be making the same decision each time you encounter a decision point.


  1. Click on the Administration tab. You will see a single processing configuration listed, called ‘default’.
  2. Review the different options and make changes as you like. You will recognize the options from the decision points you made during previous tasks.

For example, you may want to automate the compression algorithm and level because you always want to use the same compression tool and you always want to compress packages at the same rate. To set the compression-related processing configurations:

  1. Check the box next to Select compression algorithm.
  2. Using the dropdown to the right, select a compression algorithm - 7z using bzip2 is the most common.
  3. Check the box next to Select compression level
  4. Using the dropdown to the right, select a compression level - 5 - normal compression mode is a good balance between speed and size.

We recommend that you run several tests in Archivematica before setting up the processing configurations. As you become more familiar with Archivematica, you will begin to recognize which decisions you make over and over again. These are great candidates for automation via the processing configurations.

More ways to get familiar with Archivematica

This tutorial covers a very basic Archivematica workflow. For information about processing more complex content, see the User manual.

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Archivematica 1.13.2


Archivematica documentation by Artefactual Systems Inc. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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