archiving data, was RE: Media Longitevity/Care
Vintage Computer Festival
vcf at siconic.com
Thu Mar 17 01:51:42 CST 2005
On Thu, 17 Mar 2005, Tom Jennings wrote:
> On Wed, 16 Mar 2005, Dwight K. Elvey wrote:
> > This does require regular reading of the archived disk. This
> > is not necessarily an easy thing to do.
> I'd like to offer that there is no such thing as archival computer
> media. None.
> Dwight's comment is succinct; all offline storage needs to be
> checked. Literally all of it is rotting on the shelf.
> (For short-term backup, eg. data loss prevention, this logic
> doesn't apply so directly.)
> It's a lot of work to check archival data; nearly no one does it
> right, and it mostly amounts to spot checks (a valid method
> certainly but in itself an admission of the scope of the problem).
> I don't do "backups" per se; I keep everything on rotating
> spindles, aka hard disks in running systems. If you pause to
> consider what this means as a long-term solution, it sounds really
> precarious, because it is; but in fact it's *less precarious* than
> any form of offline storage because it is essentially 100%
> continuously monitored, embedded in a live computer.
> I have five computers in four physically distinct locations (three
> are >> 100 miles apart) with enough storage to hold literally all
> the computer-readable data I own.
> If you somehow think that tapes stored in a controlled vault is
> more reliable, or less susceptible to bit rot than rotating
> spindles, I believe you are wrong (and my every experience and
> observation says otherwise). Only fiche and paper are statically
Your experience may differ, and you make very valid points and I dispute
none of them. However, I find that media is much more sturdy than these
discussions would indicate. We tend to gripe very loudly (and rightly so)
when poor quality backup media takes our data with it. But what about all
those times we go back to our old backups and thankfully find what we
I consistently read lots of data with nary a problem: 20-30 year old
floppy disks (5.25" and 8"), 20-30 year old mag tapes, even 20 year old
VHS tapes. And of course the punch cards don't count ;)
I wouldn't doubt that newer media like CD-R has problems, but as long as
you make incremental backups and also do as Tom says and keep your data
"live" you should be fine. It also helps immensely in how you store your
media. In a safe, dry, dark place that doesn't get wild temperature or
humidity fluctuations: good deal. In a barn: not so good.
Sellam Ismail Vintage Computer Festival
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