Casey Bralla on 11 Mar 2014 13:37:11 -0700

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[PLUG] How to Archive Data for 20 Years?

On Tuesday 2014-03-11 3:53:57 PM Art Clemons wrote:

> Actually neither flash nor DVDs/CDs are really suitable for long term
> archiving.  The estimates on life by manufacturers of said items seem to
> not be reflected in actual results.  I refer you to the following url
> <>
> have DVDs I used for backup six or seven years ago, if I didn't have
> later backups, I'ld be in trouble because I get read errors on most of
> them.  I've faced similar issues with tape, hard drives and the like.

This is one of my favorite technical questions!

If you have __ANY__ type of data and you want to be guaranteed that you will 
be able to machine-read it in 20 years, what media will you use to store it?

I've been using and building computers since the mid 1970's.   My first 
programs were stored on paper tape or DECtape, both long gone.  8" floppies are 
history, as are 5.25" floppies.   Even the 1.44 MByte floppies are getting hard 
to find.   Store it on an MFM drive from the original IBM PC?  Good luck finding 
a computer to read them on.   PATA/IDE drives are now obsolete, although most 
motherboards still have the connections, but for how long?  CDs and DVDs are 
popular now, but even if the media survives, will computers in 20 years still 
have the drives?  Probably not.

IMHO, there is __ONLY ONE__ media that is guaranteed to be machine-readable in 
20 years:  paper.

If a human being can read the data, a computer will be able to also.  Any 
other media will have a technical life of about 20 years max.  Even if the 
media survives, the hardware to read it will be obsolete and very rare.

So store those tax records in file folders and keep them in a cool, dark, dry 


Casey Bralla

Chief Nerd in Residence
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