Longest lasting data medium?

Assuming i want to save some data files for the longest time possible what would be my best bet aside from inscribing the 1&0’s on a sheet of steel?
And yes i am well aware of the fact that should my data survive i probably wouldn’t be able to find a computer to read the old medium and file format.

Why not inscribe them on steel? That’s probably the best. Hey, punched cards probably work fairly well. If we’re talking 1000s of years, you need this. If we’re talking 2 years, it’s probably overkill :slight_smile:

Hang on…

A quick google produced this: http://www.prov.vic.gov.au/vers/standards/pros9907/99-7-3a4.htm#2.6

The best listed is microfilm followed by paper, and possibly CDs as the best ‘convenient’ medium. But I’m sure someone’ll produce a better cite.

Without being facetious, print the files off. Paper, if well cared for and last for a millenium or more (much, much more).

If that won’t do, I suggest microfilm. There may not be a microfilm reader around in 2,000 years time, but the idea is so simple that you could practically make one yourself…

Hope this helps.

Engraving it in stone has been the preferred and proven way for centuries.

Stone, covered by a loose olastic sheet, stored in a cool, dry place without a lot of temperature or moisture variation, will last for God-alone knows how long.

Really guys, HP claims their CD`s have a storage life of up to thirty years. (only)
What would you use to store digital photos of you and your loved ones if you wanted to pass them on to your grandchildren?
Keep burning them to the latest medium and hope you never have a major crash along the way? OR?

Paper is not an option for photos.

What about flash memory?

Micofilm. Its format is always readable, since all you (basically) need is a light and a magnifying lens.

Archive the original (paper format) somewhere safe and fireproof. But just in case… keep a microfilm copy, too.

I was listening to NPR a couple of months ago, and they had a story about a project to save music. According to the story, the people involved in this project (I want to say the National Archives or the Smithosnian – something like that) found that the best storage medium was… records! Magnetic tape and CDs degrade over time, but they said that a record will last indefinitely and is a technology that would be easy to figure out in the future. Of course playing a record damages it; but they seemed to think it was a good storage medium.

How durable is microfilm though?

If you’re storing digital files, you’ll probably need to convert file formats at least as often as you refresh the media anyway. Do you really think your grandkids will be using JPGs or TIFFs, or even have a utility that will convert? Maybe, but it’s a gamble. I’ve dealt with this issue with clients who had disks full of old document files created with a word processor that no longer exists. They even had a copy of the application, not that it would run on any modern hardware without an emulator.

If you’re storing digital images, you would probably be best off storing lossless files like TIFF on CD and relying on someone to copy to new media and update the file format as needed. Otherwise, use analog (i.e. high quality acid-free paper). Or both.

Wait, why not just burn it to CD (or DVD-RW) and then store it in a vacuum? in the dark?

Why would a CD break down in a cold dark place anyways?

Maybe I’m being dim, but why is paper not an option? Hasn’t it been the preferred (and only) option for the last 150 years? I believe that photographs will last longer than any commonly used digital medium, with no format or translation problems.

It’s an option but not a very attractive one. Once you convert it into an analog data there will be some degredation. You can’t retrieve the image exactly as it was recorded.

You could record digital data on paper by printing out the data as numbers, or as punch cards. It’ll require a lot of paper though.

Personally I plan to keep everything on multiple hard drives and comparing the contents once in a while. Plus an occasional backup to the latest removable media (currently DVD-R).


So you’d better put the CDs in a vacuum as well.

How exactly to CDs decay over time?

How exactly to CDs decay over time?

How long does a photo from a lab last? (not sure-what about degredation?)
How about one off the printer? Now the inks claim to last 75+ years but that still is not indefinite.
Paper is not attractive for long term storage -excessive moisture or excessive dryness can ruin it.

All the media in use today may (will) be way outdated in 30 years when the grandkids open the boxes stored in the attic.

How do you store photos on microfilm? If stored as ones and zeros, you would still need the original software to translate the ones and zeros into the image.

Ethylene gas “evaporates” out of plastic, leaving it brittle and prone to cracking.

Cecil Adams on Do CDs have a life expectancy of 10 years?