Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Digital Storage To Survive a 25-Year Dirt Nap?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the lazarus-brand-only-goes-a-few-days dept.

Data Storage 1044

AlHunt writes "I've been tasked with finding a way to bury digitally stored photographs in a small underground time capsule to be opened in 25 years. It looks like we'll be using a steel vessel, welded closed. I've thought of CDs, DVDs, a hard drive, or a thumb drive — but they all have drawbacks, not the least of which is outdated technology 25 years from now. Maybe I'll put a CD and a CD-ROM drive in the capsule and hope that the IDE interface is still around in 25 years? Ideas and feedback will be appreciated."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771215)


SATA, not IDE (5, Insightful)

Ubitsa_teh_1337 (1006277) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771219)

Change up IDE for SATA and you might have a chance, since SATA is relatively new and SATA2 is backwards compatible with SATA1, etc.

Re:SATA, not IDE (5, Informative)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771553)

he can add in a small laptop with a power adapter and a media reader (usb ports, card reader, optical drive, whatever he needs).

that way all he *needs* later is electricity, and id be surprised if the US (or whatever country he is from) has phased out the currently used electrical outlets in 25 years, and even if he did, some electrical tinkerer could power it up anyway.

as for getting them off that device later...thats his problem :)

everything needs to be sealed well, however. double or triple on some water-tight somethingsomething to be safe,

Re:SATA, not IDE (5, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771559)

Stone with the data chiseled in HEX.

Print them (5, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771225)

Seriously, just print them. Unless we somehow evolve new sensory organs in the next 25 years, I suspect that photographs won't be rendered useless through obsolescence. They can always scan them into new digital files afterwards.

Re:Print them (2, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771275)

On high quality paper with really good inks. this is the only way to avoid data loss.

Re:Print them (4, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771417)

Well, if data loss is an issue, then you shouldn't be burying it in the ground for 25 years. You should be keeping redundant backups and keeping the backups updated to the latest in archival technology every few years.

If you just want to make a time capsule, and a relatively short-term one at that, then even a modest printing should be perfectly adequate.

That said, I'd still recommend springing for some nice quality prints just because they are much nicer, and it'll be that much cooler when you open them.

It probably is a wise idea to investigate the inks used, though. Photographs seem to last a while, but I don't know how well printer ink lasts and whether it fades with age.

Re:Print them (5, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771551)

I agree completely. Current digital technology is not designed to last for long periods of time untouched. Storage methods evolve, things move around, old hardware fails and new hardware shows up, and data is in a continuous flux. If you shove data into one device and leave it untouched for many years, chances are it will be gone one way or another, since normal storage devices just aren't meant for that kind of use. Flash memory gets erased, hard drives have bearings which stick and die, CDs and DVDs have dyes that can break down over time and aluminum that can oxidize, etc. The proper way of using current storage technology to store data for long amounts of time is to do what we've been doing all along: use normal methods of redundancy (offsite backups, etc), keep the data online, check up on it periodically, and move it over to new storage systems as the old ones become obsolete or break.

If you just want to stick some data in a box for 25 years, printing it out is bound to get you a much higher chance of getting it back. Other means exist of storing data for long periods of time, but consumer digital technology isn't it. Things like laser engraving, coupled with a good reference manual that describes the encoding could work, but these kinds of things are highly specialized and probably not available for a reasonable amount of money. Printing is.

Re:Print them (4, Funny)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771305)

As hex dumps.

Re:Print them (1)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771349)

I thought of this but maybe the OP is being tasked with saving thousands+ pictures. In which case the bulk of the hard copies would be a factor, plus they would be more likely to be damaged if they had to be shoved in the capsule. Plus, pictures fade over time (although this may only be a factor of being exposed to light, if anyone could clarify that would be great).

What if you encrypted these pictures and put the key (on paper) in the time capsule? You would just have to keep a copy of the encryption software and the encrypted files themselves around for 25 years. Definitely not perfect though, x86 might die etc.

Re:Print them (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771407)

Encryption is the kind of thing that you most certainly do not want to do, as it multiplies your chances of failure. Most often, changes to the encrypted data result in a completely random plaintext (from the point of corruption onwards). Some kinds of encryption don't have this problem, but almost all of them will increase your chances of failure to an extent. Then you also have to deal with preserving the key.

Re:Print them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771499)

Corruption past the damage should only occur if the data is compressed prior to encryption, or if a stream cipher is used. Ideally, only a few blocks would be lost.

Re:Print them (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771371)

Seriously, just print them. Unless we somehow evolve new sensory organs in the next 25 years, I suspect that photographs won't be rendered useless through obsolescence. They can always scan them into new digital files afterwards.

"Just print them" shifts the nature of the question to "how do I make it last"
I wouldn't expect most photo printer paper to last 25 years.

Re:Print them (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771457)

Why not? Seems like there are plenty of photographs out there which have lasted a lot longer than 25 years.

It's definitely something you've got to research, but there should be some relatively simple way to ensure that the photos last 25 years. That's really not all that long.

Re:Print them (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771463)

Ummm... I'm sure that most of us who are 25 years old or older have pictures of themselves that are stored in bad conditions and still look decent.

Sense organs? (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771421)

Sure, we may have hit singularity and have arbitrary electromagnetic wave sensitivity. The patterns on the ink would still be detectable while scanning the spectrum.

Re:Print them (2, Insightful)

DigitalCrackPipe (626884) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771541)

Actually, not all printed photographs will last 25 years. Professional prints on photographic paper might, but inkjet printed photographs likely will not. Before going to the corner drugstore and printing them and calling the job done, I'd suggest doing the research into what the actual (the claims are generally false or non-scientific) expected quality would be in 25 years for the specific printing method and quality of chemicals used in that location.

Forward Compatibility (1, Offtopic)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771231)

> I've been tasked with finding a way to bury digitally stored photographs

Print them out.

Read With Eyes (0, Offtopic)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771233)

Nothing beats a paper hard copy.

Maybe an entire cheap laptop? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771235)

AC power should still be around.

Re:Maybe an entire cheap laptop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771435)


Re:Maybe an entire cheap laptop? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771507)

Yes, but lets say it gets a bit wet in there and the screen shorts out, or there happens to be a minor earthquake that destroys the HD. Or the RAM gets corrupted. How many people have a laptop from 25 years ago that still works?

How about.... (5, Insightful)

uberhobo_one (1034544) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771239)

How about a small digital picture frame? That way you could throw in your own flash drive, and the pictures would come with their own display medium. I'm sure they'll still have AA batteries 25 years from now.

Re:How about.... (5, Insightful)

goto begin (1338561) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771303)

... I'm sure they'll still have AA batteries 25 years from now.

Let's hope not?

Re:How about.... (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771387)

Well, a AA battery will be pretty damn easy to emulate from any DC power source.

Still, I'd worry about the LCD. I say print 'em, even if you do choose to put a digital copy (of some form) in there.

Re:How about.... (4, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771343)

Flash memory works by trapping electrons on an insulated gate. Since there is no such thing as a perfect insulator, especially at high integration levels and taking into account quantum effects, those electrons will leech out over time. 25 years is probably more than enough to kill the data on a flash memory chip.

8===F=U=C=K===Y=O=U===D -- ~ -_ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771241)

Eat me.

Why not... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771243)

just bury the entire PC. Surely AC power will still be around in 25 years.

Re:Why not... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771505)

That's probably the best suggestion so far, capacitor rot and RTC failure notwithstanding (although I assume they'll still be able to make capacitors and low-voltage power in the future). A notebook would probably do the job. Something self-contained.

Send it to Carroll's Tile & Stone (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771247)

Welcome to Carroll's Tile and Stone. Here at Carroll's Tile and Stone specialize in the fabrication and installation of granite and marble counter tops and natural stone tile backsplashes in the San Angelo, Texas area. And now, Carroll's Tile and Stone is very excited to announce that we have added laser etching services [] to our list of products and services.

Tell 'em Anonymous Coward [] sentcha!

Multiple choice (5, Interesting)

avronius (689343) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771249)

You can't guarantee that the data will be intact when they open the capsule. Nor can you guarantee that the gear you send will survive.

Seems to me that your best bet is three separate distribution mechanism.
1. CDs AND DVDs (two copies of everything), a small portable DVD player with multiple interfaces - component/composite/s-video out
2. NAS device with at least two disks (two copies of everything) and multiple interfaces - eSATA/SCSI/USB2/FireWire/ethernet(dhcp)/etc.
3. Digital picture frame and a handful of memory modules (two copies of everything)

Ensure that whatever device you send goes complete with power adapter and user manual. In at least two languages.

All there is to do when you're done, is cross your fingers and hope that video displays still operate in two dimensions :)

Re:Multiple choice (4, Insightful)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771525)

I think of all those interfaces the most likely to still be used is Ethernet cabling. Get a NAS with ipv6 and dhcp enabled. Assuming we've adopted ipv6 in the next 25 years, this may be your best bet. Also consider wireless!

Technology finds a way (4, Insightful)

kentrel (526003) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771251)

It really doesn't matter. If you use any popular media the technology will still be around to use it. We live in a big world, and there always geeks who love to collect stuff like that.

Re:Technology finds a way (2, Funny)

Tester (591) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771295)

It really doesn't matter. If you use any popular media the technology will still be around to use it. We live in a big world, and there always geeks who love to collect stuff like that.

Where can I find a Wang word processor?

Re:Technology finds a way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771475)

Looks like this guy has several.

Have fun!

Re:Technology finds a way (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771489)

They renamed it to get rid of that stupid joke. It's now called Genital word processor.

Re:Technology finds a way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771493)

I think I have one right here in my pants, along with some warm grits and this statue of Natalie Portman...

Re:Technology finds a way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771565)

Where can I find a Wang word processor?

You could ask the geek who runs the Small WANG Museum [] .

Re:Technology finds a way (1)

TheWGP (747857) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771375)

This is true - use SATA/SATA2 and USB, those are so popular it's unlikely they'll be unusable at that point.

I'd almost be more concerned about the persistence of the media through that kind of time period - modern tech just hasn't been around long enough to really FOR SURE say what'll happen.

Duplicate copies, definitely - but a lot depends on your space available and budget.

A couple of USB keys and a couple of digital picture frames seems like a decent solution - or maybe even leave the pictures on a card already inserted in the picture frame.

One important thing - make sure you include a paper list/instructions for retrieval, because there's no guarantee that anyone will remember how to work those godforsaken menu options and file formats in 25 years!

In fact, that might be more of an issue than the physical media reading - look at a 5 1/4 floppy with old code on it; there are drives, sure, and plenty of people remember how to hook them up and use them if they had a REALLY GOOD REASON TO - but using the old code requires literally a manhunt to find someone who can do it, and they're probably already retired!

Re:Technology finds a way (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771577)

Sure, but how many people are geeks? Lets say the generic person opens up a time capsule filled with cassette tapes and floppy disks. What do you think most people are going to do A) Check the labels on the cassette tapes and toss them in a box and toss the floppies or B) Listen to the cassette tapes and purchase a USB floppy drive and look at the data on the floppies. Yes, us geeks would usually do letter B, (though most of us would have already had a USB floppy drive on hand) but the average person thinks that it is obsolete and isn't worth looking at.

computer! (1)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771255)

put a mac mini and a 15inch LCD monitor in there as well. ;-)

USB Stick (3, Interesting)

amcchord (1334469) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771259)

Of all the interfaces that will still be around 25 years from now USB has the best chance. I am not so sure about wether or not the flash memory will hold up. But with the BILLIONS of usb devices out there nowadays I find it hard to believe the format will be gone 25 years from now.

Re:USB Stick (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771379)

Billions of floppy disks were created, but floppy drives are becoming pretty rare these days. 25 years from now, USB may very well be supplanted by something entirely different, or special USB adapters may need to be purchased to use USB devices.

Re:USB Stick (5, Insightful)

rho (6063) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771441)

Floppy drives, $9 from Newegg.

You can still buy motherboards with serial and parallel ports, for God's sake.

25 years isn't that far in the future.

Re:USB Stick (1)

anotherone (132088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771425)

You'd be pretty hard pressed to connect a hard drive from 1983 to a modern computer.

Re:USB Stick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771487)

What about the millions of meters of tape or millions floppies? Granted, they're not entirely obsolete, but it's certainly becoming more difficult to find a floppy / tape drive (especially for an average consumer).

Include a playback device (2, Informative)

cmeans (81143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771261)

I'd recommend including a device that can actually play back whatever media/content you choose. Then your only worry will be whether you can get the device powered in 25 years. I would imagine that a regular power cord will still plug in (somewhere) even after 25 years.

Paper? (1)

Tester (591) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771265)

I don't know any digital storage can last 25 years.. Even burned CDs don't last that long (I think their stated lifetime is like 5-10 years). Even the NASA doesn't know, they have a program where they copy their digital archives every 5 years onto new media.

My advice is to use paper or some other material that deteriorates slowly and has been around for at least 25 years..

Re:Paper? (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771337)

I think dvd-ram is supposed to last longer than standard dvd's. Not sure where I got that info. Can anyone confirm this?

Re:Paper? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771527)

Archival-grade CD-Rs do exist...

Also, there are storage technologies specifically for archival purposes, such as magneto-optical... nobody said they were CHEAP, but they do exist, and due to their use in the medical field, there'll probably always be something to read the media.

old fashioned? (1)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771271)

25 years? That's a pittance in terms of time. Why not high-quality archival prints in hermetically sealed plastic bags? You can even loose laminate the pictures, then vacuum seal the box if you've got the moolah. The archival prints will last at least 25 years, and if you want to be safe you can toss in a dvd/thumb drive/whatever in with it. At least you'd be sure that the ultra cool infrared scanners of the future (which also serve as flying cars) will be able to recover copies of the pictures, even though they wouldn't be pristine copies. For proof of concept, see the recent NYT story about visually etched disks being strewn around the world for 1,000 year archival, although that might be a more ambitious/dubious goal.

There's only one guaranteed solution (0, Redundant)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771281)

Print them.

Granted, you won't store as many. But unless you're prepared to bury a digital photo frame and power supply at the same time, I really don't see how you can guarantee that the media will be readable with whatever technology we're using in 25 years time.

(And the digital photo frame isn't guaranteed - who knows what state the electronics will be in in 25 years? Plenty of time capsules have been opened only to discover that they're not as waterproof as was originally thought.)

Thumb Drive no jutsu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771285)

Thumb drives are probably ur best bet. We won't have USB interfaces anymore, but maybe something analogous enough will be around.

Re:Thumb Drive no jutsu (1)

phil reed (626) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771369)

No. Sandisk says their flash memory archival lifetime is no better than 10 years.

Magnetic capsule? (1)

bobwrit (1232148) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771289)

How about making the caplsule magnetic and then storing the photo on that? or you vould take a flash-drive/hard-drive and bury that.

Multiple media? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771293)

Why not put more than one media (all with the same content) in the capsule? This way the chances are a lot bigger to be able to recover the data after 25 years.

USB (1)

Handlarn (911194) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771297)

Just bury anything with a USB 2.0 connection, no way will it be difficult to find a computer with a USB port in 25 years considering all the millions and millions of peripherals that use it.

welded closed? (1)

justanotherlinuxguy (1169913) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771301)

Between heat and current I am guessing your pics won't last 25 seconds.

Cool challenge! (1)

coldmist (154493) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771307)

Watch out for condensation. Maybe put whatever you do in a few layers of zip-locs, with some anti-dessicant bags or something to keep the humidity down in the final, inside bag.

Probably your best bet is a a combination of several things to try your luck. A USB thumb drive, as the USB interface will probably be around a long time (like USB->parallel adapters even keep the parallel interface alive). But, flash memory might degrade.

I'd probably put a DVD+R disk in (that has an archive layer on it [the better disks you can buy]).

How about a small 2.5" hard drive with a SATA interface?

Do a couple, and one might be readable.

Re:Cool challenge! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771431)

Careful with anti dessicant bags, as over a period of years, they become wet and drippy. Put them at the bottom, preferably with some space between them and what you are protecting.

The Aussies who buried their rifles are learning this the hard way with rust issues.

Paper? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771321)

If it absolutely, positively has to survive 25 years, it might be worth the expense of getting the photos professionally printed on good quality paper and, if you're worried about the box leaking, laminated. Okay, it's a smartass answer, but those are photos you're going to store, and they're known to last more than 25 years easily.

Why choose one? (1, Redundant)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771331)

Perhaps put the same data in multiple forms: CD, DVD, Blue-Ray, USB key, hard disk, ...

Perhaps even include a complete bootable computer that starts into a web server, serving the images.

And then as the last resort, print-outs of the images.

Bootable is nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771413)

A bootable computer is one idea but let's consider that we need a few things to get THAT working correctly.

120v with plug
what is the IP? V4 or V6? What about v7 that the Chinese implement when they take over the Internet?

Will these photos still be legal?

Digital picture frame (1)

A440Hz (1054614) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771335)

LCD picture frame. $200. Can be charged with AC power. AA batteries would be even better.

The thing is... (1)

Korey Kaczor (1345661) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771347)

A lot of outdated technologies still exist today that have existed for much longer than 25 years. For example, many legacy programs use Fortran, and it's still quite possible to find ISA to PCI adapters. Considering the high prevalance that IDE has had over the past 15-20 years, it's not unreasonable to assume that someone in the future would be able to find a way to read data off of then outdated technologies. And even then, it would still be reasonable to assume that someone then would have an old computer laying around that would easily read the data.

Peripheral (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771355)

Assuming the data survives on the actual memory part, I'd go for a USB drive. Peripherals have the best chance for forward compatibility because they are already designed for use with more than one system and therefore it should be fairly easy to get ahold of adapters. Also, you will only need a driver for the final connector interface.

Use an entire system (1)

goodmorningsunshine (1230354) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771357)

Why not store an entire laptop/ netbook (with battery charger), and have backup CDs along with it? That way the media is always accessible (via the laptop), regardless of if the format is still in use in 25 years in the outside world.

Use redundancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771363)

Store it in different types of media with the same data copied over and over on each of them. 25 years on, even if all the medias have sectors failing, you would still have plenty of material to reconstruct the original information...
My bet for the interface would be USB. There are so many devices today that use it, I wouldn't be surprised to see at least a backwards compatible USB port on future's PCs.

do em all ... (1)

Gitcho (761501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771365)

but you could bury it with a basic cheap laptop (with wifi/ethernet & usb) ... put your stuff on the laptop hard drive & duplicate it on a thumbdrive and CD and DVD (all cheap) ... There's simply no way to know for sure what will still be there, but you're covering a lot of bases. Heck, skip the laptop if it's too much and put it on sata disk, CD, DVD and thumb drive ... all are cheap enough.

Why not put a laptop in the capsule? (1)

eyeareque (454991) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771367)

Remove the battery, but leave the a/c adapter and cable. This way you will have a machine waiting for you to extract the data at a later date.

I would recommend saving a copy of the photos on the hard drive, a dvd copy, a cd copy, and also a usb thumb drive. that way all of your bases are covered.

Punch cards! (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771377)

So you want digital data, but on a medium that will last? Just include a bunch of punch cards (bonus points if they're made of something that lasts longer than paper)! Or print the data out on good quality paper. Make sure to include instructions on how to decode it, too.

Digital Picture Frame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771393)

I would say a digital picture frame loaded with pictures/video/music. Computer hardware changes too much to try and hope for the interface to be there in the future. Power outlets have changed very little in the last 20 years. Give the future the data and a medium to view it on in my opinion.

Multiple methods (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771395)

I'd suggest using more than one format. Paper + USB thumb Drive + CD-ROM seems like it'd cover the bases pretty well for a 25-year timescale.

(Of course you need to use archival-quality versions of each media where available, and make sure the environment doesn't include any hazards particularly deadly to any one.)

Tried and proven: paper (1)

Hiddenface (635059) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771397)

Use paper and encode your data using something like [] or some other well documented data format. I think there will always be digital imaging devices like scanners and cameras around. Maybe even include decoder sourcecode in OCR friendly print. You're planning for 25 years, but who knows :-) Might result in a load of paper though... I wonder how much information you could squeeze on high resolution paper in multiple colors. As the capsule is bound to be perfectly dark the paper might stay in good shape.

Go USB. (1)

caferace (442) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771403)

CD/DVD media degrades over time. Even the gold-based [] discs. Proper storage and handling is key. I'd go USB...

Not that hard (2, Insightful)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771405)

25 years is not THAT much, you make the problem sound much harder than it is.
Prints is an obvious solution as already mentioned.
Then, include a couple of CD copies. Forget about putting IDE drives in there. The CD format has been around for more than 25 years, I am sure we will keep using some sort of optical media that will be CD compatible for a few more years. Even if they don't make CD-R compatible drives in 25 years (which i doubt), it will be easy to find an older drive with the capability. Just make sure you use archival-quality media and don't stick any CD-label on it.
Then throw in a usb thumbdrive in case the USB (along with the thumbdrive) survive!

All of the above (1)

isomeme (177414) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771433)

I'd suggest replicating them in every format and hardware type you can think of (and afford); also include physical prints. Make sure you label each of the digital storage forms very clearly with details of its interface and format. Every variant you include increases the odds that at least one will remain readily readable in the future.

Hollerith cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771437)

Paper will survive very well. A printed photo is more information dense, but, being analog, is lossy. You want digital storage, so punch holes in paper. And the Hollerith encoding will still be known and readable 25 or 100 years from now. Punched cards were in active use for about a century, so they'll be readable for a long time.

Dig it up. (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771443)

Archive the data in some sane fashion, and then, in 24 years, dig it up and stick in a DVD (or for extra credit, a format that has not existed for the entire time the capsule has been buried.

Another option would be to contact Amazon or Google and ask how much they would charge you to keep the backup live for 25 years and then just bury the account information.

use them all (1)

toasted_ry (552521) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771449)

Use multiple formats. Redundancy seems to be the solution to every other storage problem.

Microfilm (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771451)

Screw digital. Get them printed to archival-grade microfilm and store them in a moisture-proof container. Microfilm is designed to last a minimum of 500 years when kept under the proper (and relatively easy to maintain) condition. All you need is a light source and a good lens to view it. Most of the world's better professional archives use a combo of microfilms and digital archiving to keep stuff around... the microfilm guarantees longevity while the digital copy is easy to search and access.

5.25" optical media probably the best choice (4, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771465)

The 5.25" optical disc format seems to be the most likely to survive, given that the CD doesn't seem to be getting replaced in a physical format anytime soon, and the follow-on products (DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray) all use the same basic format and are backward-compatible due to the low cost of the lasers involved for the previous format(s). Given the preference in the mainstream to keep backward compatibility and the fact that even the fun new terabyte media are in a similar format, this is the best overall bet.

Bury a whole laptop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771481)

I also think that leaving the photographs is the best way to go.. but If you absolutely want to go wit media, what about burying a whole laptop ?

It doesn't need to be the most powerful model, just
something that reads the media (cd/dvd?)... you could also leave a copy on the laptop's HDD.

Digital Picture frame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24771483)

Just purchase a stand-alone digital picture frame that takes AA batteries and the appropriate flash. Maybe include a few backup units and backup flash cards in water-resistant sealed packages like you put digital cameras in when swimming.

What a flood of garbage (5, Funny)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771485)

Alternative title: "How many bullshit redundant replies can you fit in a Slashdot thread?"

Re:What a flood of garbage (1)

Korey Kaczor (1345661) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771517)

I wish I had karma to mod you up.

Don't overlook flash cards (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771491)

25 years isn't too bad... lots of things should work. I hold with those who say "print them..." maybe even in reduced size on some kind of high-resolution media.

Do not overlook flash cards. I know the data in them is stored in tiny capacitors, and the storage time is said to be only "years," but you never know. I was very, very impressed by some tests a magazine did once in which they subjected several brands of flash cards to a number of tests that included dousing them in a cup of coffee and nailing them to a tree. Most of them survived and were readable(!)

This calls for less technology! (2, Funny)

kawabago (551139) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771497)

Print out all the binary information on acid free paper so it can be optically scanned in 25 or 2500 years.

Welded Shut? (3, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771509)

If you use paper, SD card, USB memory stick, hard drive, or whatnot it would have to survive being welded into the box, as well as opening the box.

Binary on Stainless Steel (2, Insightful)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771511)

Etch the image binary data on a stainless steel tags, if the tags are big enough and the etching small enough, perhaps one tag per image. This will be recoverable by humans 25 years in the future - or aliens +100,000 years. ;-)

Here's a resource to get started []

Paper copy (5, Interesting)

eric76 (679787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771519)

It would be entirely possible to make a paper copy of binary data that could easily be read in with the correct software. Of course, the paper you would want to use would be acid-free.

One could simply encode the binary as forward slashes and backward slashes. Or as x's and o's.

But those would be really wasteful.

I've often thought that what would make a really good software contest would be to develop a format to back data up to a paper copy on a laser printer using the best compression possible but with enough error correction and detection to be able to read just about any paper put in that comes out in reasonable shape.

For example, one might use individual pixels on the paper. Or you might want to group several together and treat as a bit. Or use an innovative coding scheme that doesn't just map individual bits to spots on the paper.

I think that a scheme that spreads the information out over the entire paper might be interesting. In other words, the individual bits of a byte and any bits dealing with the error detection and correction would be located remotely from each other.

In such a contest, testing would be easy. Write images of several datasets to paper and then scan the images in after different stages of intentional damage to the paper. For example, you might read two data files back from the pristine paper without doing anything. Another two data sets might come from paper that has been crumpled up into a ball and then flattened. Two more might be from paper that has been moistened. Two more from paper with a tear across the middle. And, finally, make copies of two data sets on an everyday copier and then scan them in and decode.

Rank the results by the numbers of errors, possibly with factors to take in levels of difficulty based on the amount of damage to the paper, and select a winner.

Why limit yourself? (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771521)

Its not like a CD and thumbrdrive will take up more space than one or the other. If you can convert the photos to a DVD format slide show and include a DVD player, that might stand the best chance of surviving.

I'd recommend *stainless* steel (2, Interesting)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771549)

...for the vessel.

And yes, photographic paper and black-and-white images would last the longest.

tape?? (1)

Subgenius (95662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771555)

Hell, I have 9-track tapes that are older than that and I can still read them. I also have 2" quad video from 1965, but I'll save that for a future thread.. :)

But seriously, go tape. DLT, SDLT, mini carts, or 9 track reel.
Wrap up a DLT in a bunch of plastic sheeting and you should be ok. just TAR or CPIO the data, don't use a proprietary tape backup format

If you want to make it REALLY difficult, encode it onto cassette tape at 300baud and include a reader.

25 years is nothing (1)

wtfispcloadletter (1303253) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771567)

You guys really think technology will change that much? USB interfaces will either still be around or at least some geek will have an old computer with USB lying around. 25 years is nothing. IDE has been around for 22 years and is now only getting scarce, but I can still get my hands on plenty of computers that have them. [] []

The 3-1/2" floppy has been around for 24 years. What the person is asking is easy. HD, CD, DVD, what ever, you'll be able to read it in 25 years. Well, I would stay away from IDE in favor of SATA. IDE may be hard to get your hands on in 10 years let alone something that works with it in 25. Now if they were shooting for 50 or 100 years, then we could put more than 30 seconds of thought into it.

A though problem (1)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771569)

I think the hardest part of the question is "What digital storage medium lasts 25 years"?

You can pretty much forget about CD-R's & DVD-R's, those get eaten by parasites, USB Flash keys will have a pretty high probability for corruption over such a long period aswell

Depending on the budget and data quantity, i'd go for non re-usable datastorage, CD's (of the non writable kind) are pretty damned resilliant, but might be out of your budget

You could also get ROMS, they tend to last pretty damned long, but data quantity might render this expensive

Basicly, digital storage is very fragile, you might have better luck tossing the pictures online with the cypher for the archive stuck in that capsule instead, but you'd still need a host wich will last 25 years....

Not going to survive (2, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771573)

The media may survive and be theoretically readable, but nobody will be able to read it. 25 years ago was 1983. The IBM PC was only 2 years old, the PC/XT had just been introduced. The IDE interface you hope will be around in 25 years? It didn't exist then. It didn't appear until 1986, and wasn't standardized (as ATA) until 1994. And it's at this point been all but replaced by SATA (I expect EIDE/ATAPI CD/DVD drives to be completely replaced by SATA ones by next year). The standard disk interfaces 25 years ago? ST-506, ESDI and SCSI. I don't expect changes in drive interfaces to slow down any, so expect in 25 years that even if you include the drive nobody's going to have a controller interface to plug it into. 9-track mag tape, 8" floppies, 5.25" floppies, punch cards, all those were standard digital media 25 years ago and you'd be hard-pressed to find equipment to read the media or computers that can interface with the equipment if you do find it.

Storage medium (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771581)

I'm willing to bet that DVD-R{W,OM} will still be at least readable in 25 years, for the simple reason that, while the connector interface for the hardware will change, the protocols probably won't - so even if you get some . That said, the other posters are right - never underestimate the archival power of dead trees.

Dirt nap? (1)

Aranwe Haldaloke (789555) | more than 6 years ago | (#24771587)

Personally, I'm more interested in storage that can survive:

  • Sleeping with the fishies
  • Pushing up the daisies
  • Jumping off this mortal coil
  • Joining the choir invisible
  • Pining for the fjords

Any one able to help me out?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?