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  1. #1
    Uranium Lounger
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    Media Data Storage Life

    Does anyone have a good source where I can find how long data can safely be stored on various media. Specifically, I would like to know how long I can safely store data on various CD and DVD, and removeable disks like USB Key Flash Disks.
    Legare Coleman

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Media Data Storage Life

    As noted in this Wikipedia entry, it is not really known exactly, since these media haven't been around very long yet. Some articles claim a lifespan of tens of years for properly stored CDs and DVDs, but this one is much more pessimistic.
    Flash disks are generally intended as temporary storage, so I wouldn't rely on them for long term storage.

  3. #3
    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Media Data Storage Life

    Thanks Hans.
    Legare Coleman

  4. #4
    Platinum Lounger
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    Re: Media Data Storage Life

    There's a brief comment from the British Library on Digital Preservation...

    I am very pessimistic on the subject of long-term digital data storage, because if the media does not degrade so as to be unreadable, the devices and software to read it will no longer be available. The BBC Domesday Project from the 1980s is a case in point. Only by enormous efforts has it been possible to resurrect the data...

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

  5. #5
    Platinum Lounger
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    Re: Media Data Storage Life

    >The BBC Domesday Project from the 1980s is a case in point.
    Betamax video players, 8in and 5in computer disks, and eight-track music cartridges have all become redundant, making it impossible to access records stored on them.

    In a rare (hah!) display of pedantry I read the reference and dispute the quote.

    We are well aware that time marches on, new equipment arrives. I too had a vast array of material on old (5.25) disks. My decision not to retain a 5.25 drive is the cause of my not being able to retain that data. Nothing to do with the shelf life of the disks. I suspect too that the Domesday project was doomed because the decision was made to shelve the computers that could and did and would continue to read those platters. There's a one-time cost of copying huge laser disks to miniscule 400G drives, and I find it hard to believe that there weren't/aren't programs out there that will happily transform Beta format data to VHS, just as we have WAV to MP3.

    I rant because I was reading this week about the demise of the BHP steelworks in NSW, and remember well the furore when we elected to use CDC's "COSY" or Compressed SYmbollic system for punched cards. Reduced our card decks by 80% and our arms to their normal length, but management was afraid COSY would go out of vogue in ten (!) years and we would be left with unreadable card decks. We shrugged and said that if that happened we would expand back to source and carry on. Two years later we were using those massive 8MB disks .....

  6. #6
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Media Data Storage Life

    I don't have a source for you to refer to Legare, but I thought I would share a little "experience." As I'm sure you know, many of us who used to rely on diskettes for program and data storage know that through all the media iterations (8", 5.25" and then 3.5") every once in awhile a diskette would fail that had previously been used without problems. Most of the time we would grit our teeth, figure out a way to recover and move on.

    I had an experience not long ago with a few CDs, which I have previously thought of as indestructible, barring scratching or other user inflicted damage. Not so my friend! I pulled out a MS branded CD of Win98SE to do a re-install of my son's computer, only to discover what I can only describe as a small amount of "flaking" of the shiny side of the CD. The disk seemed to read OK but part way through the install, it failed and there was nothing I could do to get around the failure. Luckily, I had a backup CD I had made that worked and I was able to get the job done.

    In a separate incident, I was going to install a couple of freeware utilities that I had stored on a CD I burned myself and saw this same symptom of "flaking" on the shiny material of the disk. This CD also turned out to be useless.

    To this day I don't know if the method of storage was at fault or some other gremlins were at work. I keep ALL my CDs in a zipper binder with enclosure folders for individual disks. I don't know if storing them in this manner causes the media to get "stuck" inside that little binder or what.

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