Data storage: wandering into a digital desert

Data storage: wandering into a digital desert 

There’s an ironic twist to this great digital age. We probably store more information about ourselves now than was kept by all past generations combined, yet when future archaeologists start digging back to 2013, they may find precious little.

The dangers of decay and obsolescence threaten everyone with digital files, from those wanting to preserve precious family pictures and movies, to governments, businesses and universities that would grind to a halt without their computer records.

No one is completely sure yet how long digital files will last. It depends a great deal on what they are stored on, how they are cared for, and how long it will be before the software needed to open them is outdated and no longer available.

Some tips on how to preserve digital files at home will come later, but first consider the case of the Domesday Book, William the Conqueror’s survey of England, written on sheepskin parchment 927 years ago, and still readable today.

 Advertisement The BBC decided to create a modern version of the book in 1986, using digital material submitted by schoolchildren about their local communities. It was stored using the latest technology, on 12-inch laser disks, to guard against obsolescence.

Only 15 years later, laser disks were just that – obsolete – and the whole project was in danger of being lost because the data could not be read by modern software. It was finally saved on more up-to-date media, but the task proved difficult and expensive.

Source: Brisbane Times

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