Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
How can you protect your data long term from media degradation to loss and theft? We'll look at hard drives and a variety of media types and discuss revisiting your storage periodically.
In this excerpt from Answercast #51, I look at the variety of storage media available and speculate about where it will head in the future.
Unfortunately, you'll get a lot of conflicting answers to that, so I'm actually not going to give you a specific recommendation. I will give you some general terms though.
First of all, when it comes to optical media like CDs and DVDs, quality matters. Quality matters a lot, as a matter of fact.
Archival quality CDs and DVDs are probably worth the money if you're thinking of storing these for many, many years.
I don't have a lot of faith in memory cards and thumb drives.
Flash memory? It should work... Theoretically, it should last for a really long time. But just because, again, there is such a variation in quality in manufacture when these things are created, it's just not something I really would put a lot of stock in.
I know that many people do use them, and do use them successfully. But whether or not they're going to be readable 10 years from now, for example, I really can't say.
What I use myself for long-term storage is, of all things, external hard drives.
Hard drives by and large have probably the best long-term storage; if they're stored properly. In other words, you're not storing them around big magnetic fields. Don't stack them behind your big sub woofer speakers or something like that.
In general, they're a good place for a lot of data. In fact, most people can put a lot of data on a single external hard drive and then squirrel it away somewhere.
I know that a lot of people are concerned about things like compatibility. Will our computers 10 years from now or 20 years from now be able to read the media that we write things to today?
We actually have that problem right now:
People who have stored things on, for example floppy disks, 20 years ago are now encountering the fact that their computers don't have floppy drives anymore;
And they have to take some special steps.
I'm fairly confident that the USB interface, and USB external drives, are going to be supported for a fairly long time. I would certainly give USB2 another good 10 to 20 years worth of acceptability - in terms of being a way to connect to computers that we might be using 20 years from now.
That being said, it's also one of those things that's worth revisiting every few years.
I know that one of the things that I do periodically is I migrate my older backups from their old media (in my case, for example, CDs that perhaps I burned 15 years ago) and move them on to hard drives, which themselves then are backed up.
And I will state that, "If you have only one copy of something, it's not backed up"
What I really recommend people do when they're looking at storing things long-term, keeping the backups long-term, is to make sure you have two copies. That's another way to protect you from everything from media degradation to loss and theft.
The other advice that people generally give is don't put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, use DVDs and hard drives - so that you are actually splitting the risk of which one may not be useful 20 years from now.
So those are some guidelines. I'm sorry I can't give you a specific answer
to this. It is something that I do encourage people to revisit periodically
just to make sure that the important things you saved 10 or 15 years ago are
still accessible to you today and 15 or 20 years in the future.
Next from Answercast 51- Why does scripting not work in FireFox?
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.