archiving data, was RE: Media Longitevity/Care (Long perhaps OT)
mmcfadden at cmh.edu
Fri Mar 18 14:48:35 CST 2005
I think one thing everyone forgets is there are appropriate high and low
tech options for each archiving task.
About 10 years ago one of the university medical groups decided to scrap
their old billing computer and I was tasked to come up with an archive
media. I looked at microfiche, microfilm, and paper. Cost was a
consideration. We also had a "large" dataproducts chain printer not
being used. We finally decided on paper since we knew we would be going
through 2 new billing systems in 4 years. Sorted all of the accounts by
SSN and then printed out 57 boxes of green bar and placed it all in
It's a lot harder to loose a binder of greenbar than one microfiche.
We would have to purchase a microfilm reader and capital expenditures
were considered once a year.
We had 10 clerks that might want to find an account, parallel usage
Lots of moving of binders sometimes to find the correct one, clerks just
happened to find me when they needed to move a bunch.
Nearly went deaf listening to printer.
My time was not a consideration I was equivalent to a graduate student.
We collected thirty 12" CMSI optical disks of x-ray images from a
medical scanner, 1 GB per disk. This was the required archive media for
the system. We initially tried to move the data via thick cable DECNET
and via a coax based Thomas Conrad Network systems network. Transfer
was very slow. Decided to purchase an additional 12" drive and
interface it to our MicroVax II, the dreaded sneakernet was then
implemented. Our 9-track tapes would hold one 40 MB image per tape if
we wanted to save any manipulated images.
I offered to copy the disks from the 12" opticals to CD's however the
hospital had film and decided that was sufficient. 12" media and drives
are now long obsolete. I assume they still have the packs and no disk
We still have 8" floppy, dat tapes, MO disks and CD's from different
medical devices. I usually try to hang on to the tape drives when for
example a mobile MRI scanner leaves. Biggest problem is that some of
the disks are not file structured in the normal sense. They are some
manufacturer's proprietary internal format. There is a standard but
it's no help to understand usage of data. What do you do about numbers,
special characters and non English characters in a patient last name?
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