Long term data storage options?

Discussion in 'Storage' started by Paul Allen Panks, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. Hello,

    Is there a storage medium available to store data beyond 50 years? I
    understand that Magnetic Optical Drives can preserve data on a single disk
    for a period (in theory) exceeding over 40 years.

    With the longevity of some storage mediums approaching 350,000 hours, I
    believe extending beyond 500,000 hours would be ideal for long-term
    archival projects spanning several decades.

    My question focuses on the theoretical longevity of past and present
    computer storage mediums (including):

    * - Cassettes
    * - 5.25" diskettes (e.g. from the days of the Commodore 64, Apple, etc.)
    * - 3.5" diskettes
    * - Zip disks
    * - CD-R/CD-RW
    * - DVD-R/DVD-RW
    * - Magnetic Optical disks
    * - Tape drive stored mediums

    As a point of reference, I do have old diskettes from the Commodore 64
    written to in 1984 which still function flawlessly. But I have also
    experienced data loss on the more modern 3.5" disks after only a few years
    -- is this just bad luck, using different drives, or care issues of the
    disk itself (I take excellent care of all my 3.5" disks)?


    Paul Panks
    Paul Allen Panks, Feb 9, 2004
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  2. Paul Allen Panks

    Al Dykes Guest

    The last time I was involved, MO disks were the standard for
    long-term data storage in the finance world.

    Here's a recent National Institute of Standards & Technology document
    that I haven't had time to read yet, but a quick scan indicates that
    under best cases some CD media can last 100 years or more.


    I'm willing to bet that 100 years from now I will be able to read CDs,
    or pay someone a reasonable amount to convert them to current media.
    For backup of business data and applications the problem gets much
    more complex than just being able to read the bytes.
    Al Dykes, Feb 9, 2004
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  3. Paul Allen Panks

    Rob Turk Guest

    I'm willing to bet that 10 years from now you'll have problems reading more
    than half of your home-burn CDs. The media that you and I buy today is not
    stable enough to last a long time and degrades at an alarming rate. The 100
    year mark is valid only for pressed CDs, a technique that becomes really
    expensive when you have to create a master for each CD-ROM you want to

    Any archiving project at this time, regardless if it's disk, tape or optical
    based, should include a well defined migration path to 'the next thing'
    every 5-10 years. That's the time span in which either the media, the
    hardware, the format or the capacity becomes obsolete.

    Rob Turk, Feb 9, 2004
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