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trafikpolisen 03-16-2013 03:58 PM

Safe long-term storage of important data
 
Let's say I want to store some very important data on some storage media and put it in a bank safe deposit box for 20+ years. The content would be some photos and a few documents and nothing will be added.

1. What would be the safest media? Would a high quality USB flash drive be a good choice?

2. What would be the best file format to insure compatibility in, say 20 years? I'm thinking ordinary JPEG for the photos and PDF for docs.

flshope 03-16-2013 06:30 PM

I worked at a government installation that retained computer files that were up to 50 years old. The only ones that remained accessible over the long term were simple ASCII (text) files. The binaries -- whether code or data -- quickly became useless. I am not an expert on file formats, but I believe that PostScript (i.e., ".ps" files) files are pure text, including any contained images. Still, their use depends on having software, like Ghostview, that can process the PostScript code.

In terms of media, I would trust a good brand of CD over a flash memory device. I have music CDs that are 25 years old and have never had one become unplayable. I am less sure about DVDs.

I once saw an article in Scientific American (?) about the longevity of media, and devices and software to read the media. A primary point of the article was that we have no reason to regard computer media as a long term storage solution. To illustrate the point (which still makes me laugh when I recall it), the author had a picture showing card decks, paper tapes, 9-inch magnetic tape reels, computer cassettes, 8-inch floppies, 5-inch floppies, 3.5-inch floppies, and CDs -- and the punchline: the Rosetta Stone.

eSelix 03-16-2013 06:48 PM

The answer is many copies, here and there. One on optical DVD given to family, one on external disc hidden safely in room, few on internet cloud servers in different countries, etc. About 2nd. You can't predict future, It's quite possibly that there will be forced one closed standard of some files, incompatible with everything, licensed to only one operating system, maintained by one big corporation. Maybe with data store algorithms to decode it. Or just occasionally make sure your data is not out of date format and not destroyed yet.

michaelk 03-16-2013 07:12 PM

Music CDs are actually stamped vs those burned with a laser on a home computer and therefore do not degrade in the same manner. IMHO the safest long term storage media is paper.

jamison20000e 03-16-2013 10:30 PM

It's Blu-ray for me, burners are cheep ($120 over six-months ago and still about $1x22GB a disc) if a discs gets scratched you can resurface it... :) DVDs\CDs\*s can't crash or change once finalized like I would think most others can(?).

frieza 03-16-2013 10:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by michaelk (Post 4913090)
Music CDs are actually stamped vs those burned with a laser on a home computer and therefore do not degrade in the same manner. IMHO the safest long term storage media is paper.

i second the paper, though paper does have the unfortunate tendency to burn, but then again so does any other medium, but the only one guaranteed to still be viable in 20+ years is paper, as it can be scanned or photographed into the format standard being used. That being said, I have several MOD music files that i have had in my possession for almost 20 years that i still listen to, but i wouldn't count on backward compatibility that far into the future.

jlinkels 03-16-2013 10:49 PM

Redundant question

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...e-media-858480

Did you really search the forum before posting?

jlinkels

#root 03-17-2013 12:09 AM

Into the cloud LOL

trafikpolisen 03-17-2013 05:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jlinkels (Post 4913146)
Did you really search the forum before posting?

Perhaps not good enough..

Quote:

Originally Posted by eSelix (Post 4913080)
The answer is many copies, here and there. One on optical DVD given to family, one on external disc hidden safely in room, few on internet cloud servers in different countries, etc. About 2nd. You can't predict future, It's quite possibly that there will be forced one closed standard of some files, incompatible with everything, licensed to only one operating system, maintained by one big corporation. Maybe with data store algorithms to decode it. Or just occasionally make sure your data is not out of date format and not destroyed yet.

As you point out, it would be possible to check on the data every once in a while. I find it unlikely that formats like JPEG and PDF will disappear over night, so there should be plenty of time to convert the files to a newer format before it would be too late.

I have old data cd's lying around burned about 13-14 years ago and they still work. I even have old 5.25" floppy disks with data from the mid to late 80's in a box somewhere and some corresponding drives and I bet that most of them would still be readable, but some may not. Point being, that if I store the data on say one DVD and one flash drive and store them correctly, the risk that both media would be corrupted beyond recovery after about 20 years should be really small.

Sure it would be possible to store it as old fashioned photos and ordinary paper documents, but high-res digital photos is far superior to prints when it comes to detail unless you make prints in like A3 format.

I've also looked at this: http://www.sandisk.com/products/usb/memory-vault/
They claim it to last for up to 100 years. What would you make of that?

(Think I'll have to dig out those old floppies just for fun:))

jamison20000e 03-17-2013 07:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trafikpolisen (Post 4913261)
(Think I'll have to dig out those old floppies just for fun:))

It is fun I have a old 5-1/4 and 3-1/5 combined in to a signal drive, in an older computer, simply so I can still use the media. I like to be able to play anything so I keep old tape players (and on) the only thing Ive passed up at rummages and thrift-stores is a laserdisc-player that was in to ruff of shape. :D

eSelix 03-17-2013 08:38 AM

Quote:

They claim it to last for up to 100 years
"Up to" means 99 years, 30 years or just 1 year. As Sandisk is quite good company, I personally cannot belive that type of advertisements.

ntubski 03-17-2013 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by eSelix (Post 4913318)
"Up to" means 99 years, 30 years or just 1 year.

Looks like they claim at least 100 years (as in 100 or more years):
Quote:

Temperature cycling tests were performed at an accelerated temperature of 125C. Data was then verified to remain unchanged. After applying the Arrhenius equation, the SanDisk Memory Vault technology is shown to be capable of supporting at least 100 years of data retention.

Habitual 03-17-2013 07:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by trafikpolisen (Post 4913261)
I've also looked at this: http://www.sandisk.com/products/usb/memory-vault/
They claim it to last for up to 100 years. What would you make of that?

Bullshit Marketing Hype.

dugan 03-17-2013 07:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by #root (Post 4913170)
Into the cloud LOL

Naah. Just put it "on the Internet".

sundialsvcs 03-18-2013 11:02 AM

The United States Government, specifically the Library of Congress, wrestles with the "archive issue" all the time. One particular issue, that has begun to be dealt with, is the matter of proprietary file-formats... that's why Microsoft Word now produces .docx, which is a Zip-compressed XML file that conforms to a published XML schema and that can be automatically proved to do so.

A great many forms of physical media have proven to be extremely "brief."

There is the legendary story of the miles of Social Security Administration reel-to-reel computer tapes that can no longer be read (without great and expensive difficulty) because the magnetic domains have over time travelled radially between the various layers of plastic. Today's micro- but enormous-capacity disk drives obviously put a lot of data at-risk at once. The RAM technologies that drive your flash-drives are either static (literally relying upon a static-electricity charge), or dynamic (requiring to be periodically refreshed by the hardware), or most-likely a little of both.

There are lots of tangents here, such as taxonomy and context: how do you find information, and how do you know that you possess the entire context in which that information should be interpreted, and how do you know that you have it, and especially, that you don't? People who assist prosecutors in forensic investigations of digital records confront these issues all the time.


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