I wasn’t sure whether to put this in factual questions but I guess its probably more about opinions on what is the best method rather than definite fact?
Anyway I’ve been mulling for a while about making a personal time-capsule cache with a copy of my hard-drive and a note from myself for the undoubted pleasure of future generations. Inspired more by the bog-bodies that are occasionally found dating from hundreds or even a thousand and something years ago the location wouldn’t really be specifically marked, but just take a pot-shot that someone in the future finds it as unlikely as that may be. Why my hard-drive? Well I’m not a hoarder in real-life but I am one on the internet and there is a lot of stuff on there including personal pictures and short stories I’ve written. Its probably the best way of capturing who I am that I’m likely to get.
Basically its casting a bottle with ‘Celtic_Kitsune woz here’ into the tide of time and chance.
But what would be the best way to ensure it lasts for the longest amount of time? I live on my fathers farm in a temperate climate which has a reasonable selection of environments, from a valley floor, to woods, to even the aforementioned peat bogs, and reaching to above the tree-line, though that becomes common ground, not owned by anyone.
Also best way to bury it? I’m not really built for heavy digging and had considered one of those screw-bore things but that may not be much easier. I don’t want people to know I’m doing it because someone will just dig it right up, and I also don’t want a tap on the shoulder from local police due to suspicious activity.
Obviously burying it on a moonless night during a heavy thunder-and-lightning storm is the way to go, I’ve even practiced my insane laughter.
Seriously though I really would be interested in what would be the best way to go about this, if I do decide to proceed? Thanks in advance!
You mention concerns about making sure the hard drive lasts. My concern would be ensuring that whatever form of digital storage you use will be accessible in the future. Many, many storage technologies of the past are not easily accessible today.
I have checks an 18 TB hard-drive, wouldn’t that be a lot of flash-drives or SD cards? But yes I suppose less moving parts?
Hhhhmmmm, I guess that’s why I asked, I’m not really that computer literate and hadn’t considered that. Would something as common as a hard-drive accessible by Windows have a good shot at still being accessible a long time in the future? It’s not an obscure format after all.
The bigger issue is that the interface may be long obsolete by the time someone tries to look at it. The standard SATA interface of the last 10-20 years is being replaced by m.2 (especially in laptops) and Dell is already launching a replacement for that.
And, not just accessible, but accessible by any random person. If you were excavating something and found an old Zip Disk, you’re probably just going to throw it out. Sure, you could probably find a zip drive on ebay or maybe a friend still has one or the local computer shop, but I don’t think most people are going to go through all that trouble for what will probably end up being nothing.
It’s not even whether or not it could read it, it’s whether or not you could even connect it. Also, I’m not sure what you mean by it not being an obscure format. What isn’t an obscure format?
Hell, I’ve got a stack of IDE drives. I’m sure there’s still a few motherboards you can buy with them, but give it a few more years and even adapters might be hard to come by.
That’s my thinking as well. I really don’t think there’s going to be any computer/electronic media that (we know) will be accessible that far off into the future. If something is that important, best to include a hard copy. Maybe that hard copy could include some type of description of what the storage media is and how they might go about getting the data from it.
Solid state disks will lose data over time, if they are not powered. They store data as charges in locations. The charges will dissipate over a long period. Temperature of storage can change the loss rate for the worse.
I would use an enterprise level hard disk drive. Add a protected print document with as much information as possible of the format the drive uses, software and hardware. Even a pin out diagram of the connectors.
Not sure if you should vacuum seal it, might mess up drive seals. But add desiccant, O2 absorber, then heat seal in a heavy duty plastic bag. Put that in a hard case and seal that too.
The problem with flash memory is that you do have to power it on every once in a while for it not to lose data. They are only guaranteed to hold data for 10 years, though they likely can go on longer.
I would find it very bizarre if someone found a time capsule and just threw out the contents. Sure, they might not be able to connect the device, but it’s a time capsule, and presumably clearly labeled as such, saying it has data on on it. They’ll mention it online and get someone to copy the data, same as happens when people find old VHS tapes that they can’t play in that context.
The main thing is, I think, making sure it still functions. The connection problem would likely be sorted out.
Even if you magically preserve an entire computer - drive, CPU, monitor, keyboard, etc. - AND a complete operating manual, there’s no guarantee that the future generations will be using a standard 120V, 50-60hz, AC voltage electrical grid to power up the thing.
Go fully paper for all of your data: use IBM style punch cards. Let’s see if someone here can figure how many cards you’ll need to store 18 TB of data. Of course you might also need to bury a punch card reader. Just how big of a hole do you want to dig?
I wouldn’t bury a spinning Winchester style drive for any period of time. They are notoriously fragile to environmental problems. Maybe go optical? Or look up how the Voyager spacecraft disks were created to be read by alien civilizations.
Are there any commercial services to do this for you? A company could transfer data to a common media and format and maintain the equipment and processes to use that format in the future with whatever technology is available at the time.
I assume the OP doesn’t want to preserve the entire eighteen terabyte hard drive. If you think about just how much data you want to preserve for a really long time, just how much is that?
I’ve preserved some files for thirty or more years by just moving them from computer to computer. (But looking at them now, the earliest ones are identified by Windows as Microsoft Word 97 format but if I try to open them in Microsoft Word 2013, there’s lots of control characters before the actual text of the document appears. So file formats are another issue.)
There are various efforts to preserve data for 10,000, even 1,000,000 years. They typically involve engraving the information on a metal or quartz plate. One example:
Tesla launched an etched glass plate into space with some photographs:
If you really want something that lasts, it’s not going to be a mechanical drive or anything electronic. It needs to be physically carved into some durable material. And if you want data, it needs to be encoded in a way that future generations can understand.