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Long-Term Personal Data Storage?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the dead-trees-no-longer-suffice dept.

Data Storage 669

BeanBagKing writes "Yesterday I set out in search of a way to store my documents, videos, and pictures for a long time without worrying about them. This is stuff that I may not care about for years, I don't care where it is, or if it's immediately available, so long as when I do decide to get it, it's there. What did I come up with? Nothing. Hard Drives can fail or degrade. CD's and DVD's I've read have the same problem over long periods of time. I'd rather not pay yearly rent on a server or backup/storage solution. I could start my own server, but that goes back to the issue of hard drives failing, not to mention cost. Tape backups aren't common for personal backups, making far-future retrieval possibly difficult, not to mention the low storage capacity of tape drives. I've thought about buying a bunch of 4GB thumb drives; I've had some of those for years and even sent a few through washers and driers and had the data survive. Do you have any suggestions? My requirements are simple: It must be stable, lasting for decades if possible, and must be as inexpensive as possible. I'm not looking to start my own national archive; I have less than 500GBs and only save things important to me."

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669 comments

Amazon S3 (0)

bokmann (323771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102817)

Amazon S3. dirt cheap, there forever.

Re:Amazon S3 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102925)

Yes, and it's better than dirt.

Re:Amazon S3 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102929)

Its not really that cheap, and not that simple to use for personal backups. Unless you are willing to write your own backup scripts, its going to be a headache.

Querying S3 for a list of stored files is *very* slow, and you only get 1k results per query. This means you have to index what files you put in S3 in a local db. This allows you to ask the db what files are there (and how to grab them).

If you only have a few files you can use the S3 browser extension for Firefox (or one of a many file system mounting, ftp simulating, etc tools). Just keep in mind the 1k file limit per query and box things in folders of no more than 1k items. Otherwise you will have a very slow browsing experience.

I have around 120 GB of family photos and purchased mp3s that I would like to store. To store 120 GB at .15 per gigabyte/month for 1 year would cost me: $216 (at $18 a month).

We use it where I work, with great success, but it would be much to much work for me for a personal backup system.

Considering the cost, I would go with a consumer targeted app (there are LOTS of them). A number of them charge a flat flee for "unlimited" storage. Beware of how you interface them. Some support windows only.

Re:Amazon S3 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103141)

Jungledisk [jungledisk.com] takes care of all the tedious backup stuff for you, and it is only a one time charge for the app.

But you're right, S3 isn't cheap. To store 500 GB of data would be about $75 a month, plus the $50 to put it on the server in the first place.

Re:Amazon S3 (5, Informative)

TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102959)

That is an interesting suggestion, but 500GB would cost $900/year (plus transfer costs) which I don't call "dirt cheap". As far as being there forever... who knows if there will be an Amazon in 10 years? Amazon might be more stable than most hosting options, but forever is a long time.

Re:Amazon S3 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103001)

Than only backup your favorite porn.

Re:Amazon S3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102965)

Amazon S3. dirt cheap, there forever.

Explain "dirt cheap", and "forever". The OP said he didn't want to pay yearly fees, but perhaps a one-off payment would be acceptable to him.

So, with S3, can you pay once for 25 years storage? How much per gig?

Come to think of it, is there any website anywhere offering pay-once, 25-year guaranteed storage and access?

That would be great for "store and forget" applications, such as leaving things for (near) posterity.

Re:Amazon S3 (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102997)

Well it's not dirt cheap for 500GB - that's $75/month. But who really has 500GB of critical data.

Many folk here probably make a living out of making sure company data stays around 'forever'. It can easily be a full time job. The lesson from that is that if you want data to stay around forever you need to look after it yourself or pay someone else.

S3 is a perfect solution for this. BeanBagKing needs to decide what data he really needs preserved forever then pay accordingly.

The other alternative is doing it yourself with RAID arrays at different locations. Sync your 'must be preserved folder' nightly to both locations using rdiff-backup or similar. Regularly test recovery and make sure all the disks in both arrays are working without error. This is more challenging these days as domestic broadband sees caps being introduced, but for moderate volumes of data it should work fine. If they have a garage separate from their house they may be able to host a RAID array in the home and in the garage, and hope that any fire/flood/tornado/earthquake doesn't take out both.

Re:Amazon S3 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103213)

Well it's not dirt cheap for 500GB - that's $75/month. But who really has 500GB of critical data.

If most of that 500GB are photo's then for $24 a year, one can get a pro account at flickr with unlimited storage and retrieval.

The rest can then be backed up to Amazon's S3 (which is only $0.15 a GB, very reasonable for small amounts)

Re:Amazon S3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103085)

There forever, really? So if Amazon fails or gets bought out there's no chance of losing it? Yeah right, I believe that.

Hard drives kept online (2, Insightful)

matts-reign (824586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102819)

Hard drives, while they may fail, are still probably your best chance. Using RAID-1 or -5, you can keep the drives running (possibly intermittently) and can avoid failure. With the rate of hard drive growth, you can just replace them with bigger drives when the time comes you need more space. It isn't exactly the same as throwing them in a cold room and forgetting them, but it isn't too expensive either.

Re:Hard drives kept online (1)

Annymouse Cowherd (1037080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102969)

Since he won't care about this stuff for years, theres no reason he should even have the drives running. Drives that are off should have a data retention of at least 100 years.

Re:Hard drives kept online (2, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103187)

Since he won't care about this stuff for years, theres no reason he should even have the drives running. Drives that are off should have a data retention of at least 100 years.

[citation needed], please. Really, my understanding is that non powered hard drives are NOT good long term candidates due to 'stiction' (maybe not so much an issue now, maybe it is) and perhaps other problems.

(Warning: Anecdote time) I've had several previously good HDs in my junk box fail to start when I decided I wanted to play with them again. Any real data?

Re:Hard drives kept online (4, Informative)

boner (27505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103091)

I recently built my own cheap backup server using OpenSolaris and ZFS. I used my old SATA drives (6x400GB), a $75 motherboard and AMD Athlon X2 combo, 4GB of DRAM ($69) and an old tower case. I did add two SATA 5-bay hot-swappable disk bays ($110 each) so that I can easily replace/upgrade my disks. Once a week I update data from my main server (also Solaris) to the backup server using ZFS incremental snapshots.

My PC's and Mac's all mount their user directory from my main server, and I rsync my laptop every day. The main server also serves as a SunRay server so I do most of my daily chores on a SunRay. I run Windows inside VirtualBox and I rarely ever turn on my windows PC anymore (the Windows instance in VBox also mounts from my main server). Inside my main server I have 2x 1TB drives, in a ZFS mirror setup, for the user directories and 2x400GB for the OS and scratch directories (all drives are SATA).

I'm very confident in this setup, also because I can yank out my drives in under 30 seconds in case of fire. The only thing I still have to do is put my backup server in a different room from the main server - that is a todo project for the near future.

Re:Hard drives kept online (4, Informative)

ewilts (121990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103145)

I recently built my own cheap backup server using OpenSolaris and ZFS. I used my old SATA drives (6x400GB), a $75 motherboard and AMD Athlon X2 combo, 4GB of DRAM ($69) and an old tower case. I did add two SATA 5-bay hot-swappable disk bays ($110 each) so that I can easily replace/upgrade my disks. Once a week I update data from my main server (also Solaris) to the backup server using ZFS incremental snapshots.

My PC's and Mac's all mount their user directory from my main server, and I rsync my laptop every day. The main server also serves as a SunRay server so I do most of my daily chores on a SunRay. I run Windows inside VirtualBox and I rarely ever turn on my windows PC anymore (the Windows instance in VBox also mounts from my main server). Inside my main server I have 2x 1TB drives, in a ZFS mirror setup, for the user directories and 2x400GB for the OS and scratch directories (all drives are SATA).

I'm very confident in this setup, also because I can yank out my drives in under 30 seconds in case of fire. The only thing I still have to do is put my backup server in a different room from the main server - that is a todo project for the near future.

Problem 1: If you are not home and your power supply decides to catch fire, you have lost everything.

Problem 2: If you are home, you better be spending those 30 seconds trying to get your butt out of the fire, not running after hard drives.

If you think your DR plan relies on yanking drives out, you're in serious trouble. One B&E or a fire and your data is gone. Now this may be perfectly acceptable to you. It is to a lot of small companies, until it happens to them.

Personally, I vault offsite on a daily basis as well.

Re:Hard drives kept online (1)

boner (27505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103283)

I hear you, my biggest worry isn't fire itself, its fire after earthquake. In addition to my backup solution described above, I keep rotated drives with snapshots at work.

If my house burns down completely and all data is unretrievable I will have lost at most 6 months of data. Not all.

EASY! (2, Funny)

The Yuckinator (898499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102821)

Parchment. [wikipedia.org]

Not enough history (5, Insightful)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102825)

We don't have enough history on this tech to know what, if anything, will "last for decades". Possibly "paper" and "microfiche" might fit in that list, but those aren't the sort of things you're talking about. Best option I can think of right now would be to get a couple 500gig drives, put everything on both, and then put them in different areas. In 3-5 years, back them up to something newer, and repeat that every 3-5 years. Maybe in those intervening years, we'll have more data and newer tech that's demonstrably suited for what your needs are.

Re:Not enough history (1)

PincusJr (1310977) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102881)

Do hard disc drives really fail that quickly? Say right now you buy a 500gig drive, then pop it in your computer, copy all the data, then remove it from your computer and store it in another box/container. You're telling me that in 5 years time the hard disc drive could just die? Exactly why would anything like that happen? "Nothing" is happening to the drive, yet it is able to stuff itself up somehow. Excuse my ignorance :)

Re:Not enough history (4, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103049)

The spindle bearings can seize up.

The problem isn't that the drive will inevitably die after 5 years, it's that it won't inevitably last longer.

Re:Not enough history (2, Informative)

fracai (796392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103169)

Bit Rot [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not enough history (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102909)

They'll want to be spun up every so often (6mo or so).

Re:Not enough history (1)

PincusJr (1310977) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102999)

Ah okay. I didn't know that. Thanks :) P.s. I didn't know hard disc drives were sentient.

Well (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102827)

No storage medium is perfect. Remember paper? That actually roots after a period of time.

Personally a data CD is probably the best most long term solution. Not a DVD mind you, a 700 or 800mb data cd. Get some cases for it and call it a day.

Mind you, there isn't a perfect way to store any type of information for long periods of time. Personally I think a CD would be the safest bet.

Re:Well (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102895)

Remember paper? That actually roots after a period of time.

That's why paper is specifically prohibited on my network.

Re:Well (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103127)

It takes a long time before paper takes root though.

Re:Well (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103073)

for 500 GB that would be a lot of CD-Rs. While CD-R lasts longer than DVD-R, i am still skeptical. Buying 3 500 GB hard drives every few years and using them in RAID might still be the best solution.

Magnetic Tapes... (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102831)

Even-though longevity of magnetic tapes has not been explored extensively, it is understood that if they are kept in a stable humidity and temperature environment with no light, that they should last for at least 20 years.

Re:Magnetic Tapes... (5, Interesting)

ewilts (121990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103041)

Having a tape around for 20 years doesn't do you any good. 20 years ago, I was writing to 1600 and 6250bpi tapes. Today, my data center doesn't even have a drive that can physically read them.

Today's tape technology is no different. 3 years ago was writing to SDLT tapes. By next year, I won't even have an SDLT drive in my data center, having migrated everything over to LTO.

Yeah, I have round tapes in my offsite storage. I have 4mm and DAT tapes out there. We're just wasting money storing the media, since we have nothing that can read them.

If I could read the old media and extract a really old database, would today's database app be able to read it? Probably not. And could I install that app on today's OS? Probably not. And could I install the OS from many years ago on today's hardware? Probably not. Could I compile source from 20 years ago with today's compilers? In many cases, actually I can't. And if it really did all magically get compiled, is anybody around that can still knows how to run the app?

Don't forget that 20 years ago, many systems didn't have TCP/IP installed. In 1988, mine didn't - it was a combination of RS232-attached terminals and XNS-attached graphics workstations. Drive sizes were 80-160MB. A couple of MB of memory was a lot.

For those of you not still in school, ask around and see how many folks in your IT department can name the server that held your financial data 10 years ago.

Re:Magnetic Tapes... (1)

klashn (1323433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103205)

And could I install the OS from many years ago on today's hardware?

You can definitely do that today with DOS and Windows 3.1 on todays hardware. If we move away from x86 architecture, then everything is out the window, but for now, yes, we can install OS from many years ago on todays hardware.

Re:Magnetic Tapes... (4, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103293)

So start building VM's of operating systems and software that are in use. Archive those. Far from perfect or complete, but it should narrow the scope of the problem a little bit.

As far as personal stuff, I think the best solution is to have 2 or more live copies of all important data and just migrate them to whatever makes the most sense at a given point of time, and then also have backups of stuff. That doesn't work with the question, but there isn't really a cheap answer to the question at this point.

Flash drives (1)

devman (1163205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102839)

For important stuff I use memory cards in my safe deposit box at the bank. I could see flash being a viable long term storage, some of them coming out with 10 year to lifetime warranties.

Re:Flash drives (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103113)

I'm excited about write-once (WORM) flash [engadget.com] . All sides seem to agree it will be more stable, and preventing overwriting is just as important as hardware failure or format obsolescence. The only problem is this product was announced in June and still isn't available, even at sandisk's own website.

By the way, I *have* had an SD card fail. It was in my digital camera the whole time, worked fine for a couple years, then quit. The camera itself showed no sign of damage, so I don't think it was abused. It was a Kingston, too, which I consider reputable.

Re:Flash drives (2, Informative)

boner (27505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103175)

Actually Flash/memory drives are sensitive to radiation. Long term storage without regularly accessing the drive can lead to situations where blocks go bad beyond the ECC/CRC capabilities of the drive to fix. If you intend to store valuable data on memory devices for the long term you should (a) use multiple redundant drives (b) use a file-system with block-level ECC/CRC error correction and redundancy (like ZFS) (c) write each block to the device twice in different location (i.e. an mirror on the drive).

The future of Flash memory is such that unless they extend the ECC/CRC capabilities of the controller, the susceptibility of these devices for radiation will increase when the cells get smaller.

In case anybody doubts the impact of radiation on electronic devices, here is an interesting experiment you can do: take your digital camera, put the lens cap on and do timed exposure with increasing exposure times (1,2,4,8, ... seconds). Then analyse these pictures for bad-pixels, or better, subtract the pictures from each other. The random bits scattered around on these frames are impacts of cosmic rays. Now apply the same principle on memory devices with much longer exposure times...

To cut my somewhat rambling post short: use memory devices as long term storage? No. Not without thought about the required data reliability.

Not being answered (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102845)

Obviously this question hasn't been answered for the general public because this is like the 4th year in a row that this question has been asked on Slashdot.

Re:Not being answered (5, Funny)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103209)

well the backups storing the questions have been lost.

Think Different (4, Insightful)

crdotson (224356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103233)

I think the issue is that people are thinking about this incorrectly. You don't really want to 'archive' this data -- keep it with you! Keep it with all of the data that you are using day to day and back it up and move it along with that.

My home workstation still has files from 15 years ago on it. I've replaced the computer many times, had a few hard drives fail, etc. but I've always restored both current and 'archive' data from backups and kept going.

Re:Not being answered (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103261)

That's because there is no fully satisfactory answer. We'd all like a just do this, throw it in the corner and when you come back for it in 50 years it'll all be there sort of solution, but there is no such beast within the realm of affordability.

It's a problem with several aspects to it as well. Let's say there is a SATA drive out there that absolutely CAN sit in a safe deposit box for 50 years and then work perfectly every time. In 50 years, all computers will have whatever the successor to whatever replaces SaS and when you mention SATA, the old timers will all get nostalgic and go on about tying onions to their belts (which was the fashion at the time). You'll then have to take the decidedly NOT affordable step of having someone build you a one-off SATA controller that can interface with a computer of that time. That is, if you can get the old-timers to stop reminiscing about the Vista debacle of aught eight long enough to recall the specifications of SATA. Be sure to duck, some of them might throw a chair for ilustration.

Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backups. (3, Informative)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102849)

Long term:

Use quality DVDs. Redo the backup on a schedule such that everything is re-backed up every three years or so. Every month, say, you make one DVD. Keep the backups in a climate controlled, dark, secure place, such as a safe deposit box at the bank.

Short term:

Back up everything you want to save to an external hard drive weekly. Every three months swap it with a drive kept in the safe deposit box.

Daily:

If you have a Mac, use Time Machine. If Linux, some sort of cron job running a Python script that copies /home to an external hard drive. If Windows, I dunno.

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102873)

What I have in my home system is a small back-up drive sitting inside the PC. Every night, the drive spins up, personal/irreplacable data gets rsynced to it (therefore very little work) and is spun down.
Easy, cheap, and lets the HD work for the minimal time needed.
Also serves as a sort of recycle bin if I mistakenly delete something.

yes it works-for equipment failure (2, Insightful)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103023)

right up until you have an enviroment diasaster.
(enviroment can be as small as a tiny fire in the power supply of that PC)

Theft of the PC? are you covered?

FFS it is IN THE SAME CASE!

Re:yes it works-for equipment failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103221)

Wireless transmission into a fireproof safe bolted to the floor.

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102933)

This is really close to what I do. Running a home network, all the data is dumped to a RAID-1 and monthly copied to CD/DVD, which are kept in suitable storage space. This gives 3 levels of recovery:
1 - local hard drives have the data - manually done
2 - RAID on the network has a copy - scripted backups
3 - CD/DVD has a copy - manually initiated scripted backup

If I was truly worried, I'd make two CD/DVD copies and store one in Iron Mountain or something similar.

You can substitute USB drives for one of the CD/DVD copies if you like. The only answer to fragility of storage mediums is to make multiple copies and refresh those copies often enough that the inevitable failure is mitigated. I personally choose to use TAR and GZIP for now as I trust these formats will be usable in the months ahead. If they become outdated at some point, I can change that going forward and save a LIVE-CD with those utilities on it with the older data.

You can encrypt the CD/DVD copies easily enough for security, but long term you might want to make sure you write that password down :-)

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102991)

I can't imagine a guy with 500G of personal files. It must take a month just to read the titles of his various files.
            But people are different. I'm not prone to believing in the media failure reports that we have all seen. For example I have a pile of floppy disks that are still intact after 15 plus years and I stored them like a barbarian. Hard drives also tend to last for me. And I suspect that any quality CD or DVD will last for quite a long time if handled and stored carefully. I would worry more about the PCs being unable to use ancient formats or OSs that can't cope with older stuff. In order to avoid that issue he would have to make certain to keep trying his disks every couple of years.

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (2, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103123)

Depends on your definition of 'personal' files. Video can take up a lot of space.

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1)

gbridge (746125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103235)

I can't imagine a guy with 500G of personal files. It must take a month just to read the titles of his various files.

Off-topic but I thought I'd share how easy it is to accumulate 500G of personal data very quickly as I'm well on my way there: Digital photography. If you're a serious amateur and shoot in RAW format with a 14MP or so digital SLR, each photo can be around 15meg.

I can take between 250 and 400 photos on a night out with friends, still having a blast at the time, and these all add up very quickly. Throw in photos of family, holidays and such-like and you're running into hundreds of gigs of photos very quickly; I've got just over 200G of photos after having my camera for around 10 months. Software like Lightroom, iPhoto or Aperture makes organising and searching them very quick and easy, too.

The only things I'd be mortified about losing are my photos. It'd be a pain in the ass but code can be rewritten (probably quicker second time round, too). Mail is stored on the server. I can't ever again recreate the moment I pressed the shutter on the tens of thousands of photos I have, and I still haven't found a reliable way to back them all up frequently either.

G.

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (0)

PacketMaster (65250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103067)

Actually Microsoft has a free, rather nice tool that functions mostly like rsync called SyncToy. It's a native Windows application so you don't need a Windows-compiled rsync like many other tools do. It's GUI based to make is easy for the most unfamiliar of users but it is useful even to the advanced for periodic synchronization of data from Windows hosts to other drives or a network location. It has a built-in scheduler to allow it to function as as service.

(Note: This isn't an MS add. I recently discovered this tool by accident to backup my wife's laptop and was pleasantly surprised it "just works")

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103117)

If Linux, some sort of cron job running a Python script that copies /home to an external hard drive.

why a python script?

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103267)

Because nobody wants to learn perl or bash, and C/C++ is just overkill.

Re:Quality DVDs, archival storage, repeated backup (1)

boner (27505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103207)

Even quality DVD surfaces (on DVDs you can burn yourself) degrade quickly over a period of time (in my experience 2-4 years). Doing a re-backup every 3 years is too risky, it would have to be every two. In my case, with close to 1.6 TB of personal data (video, pictures, the works) it is not even practical, it would mean doing a re-backup of a DVD every two-three days.

2 drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102861)

Just get two drives and put the data on both of them.
Controllers can fail,2 drivers failing at the exact same time is unlikely.
Also put your most important data in a location different than where the original is kept.

Ask Slashdot AGAIN (5, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102863)

How many times has this question been asked on Slashdot? I swear, it shows up on the front page at least three times a year.

As for the question itself, the answer is pretty simple, but unhelpful. Basically what it comes down to is that there is no safe place for your data. You're asking for the best type of basket to put all your eggs in. If you look at it that way, the solution is easier to arrive at. Your choices are A) spare no expense and build/buy the world's strongest basket and pray no flaw arises, or B) start copying your eggs around to all sorts of cheap baskets and continuously add more baskets in the expectation that the oldest baskets are going to fail.

Copy all your stuff to all your computers. Burn to DVD and/or CD ROM. Buy SD cards and USB flash drives. High capacity storage devices are so cheap now that you can keep all your valuable pictures of your vacation to Cleveland quite safe by constant duplication. That's the value of digital. Copies are perfect. Make lots.

Re:Ask Slashdot AGAIN (5, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103061)

How many times has this question been asked on Slashdot?

It needs repeated backing up.

Re:Ask Slashdot AGAIN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103285)

I went to cleveland and all i got was this shoddy tshirt and a 500gb maxtor

Not the media that's the problem (5, Insightful)

jwilkins13 (661548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102879)

Here's the thing. Flash drives will *probably* last long enough. I wouldn't at all be surprised if they were still readable in 20 or 30 years. But a) what's the odds of your current WinUx or iHoloTablet having a usb connector in 30 years? and MUCH more importantly, what's the odds of having anything capable of reading those historic Word 2007, Acrobat 5, or any other type of file format in 20 years? Yes, there are some folks technical enough that they can still read and readily interact with Geoworks, Wordstar, Xywrite, etc. stored on 8" floppy disks. But if you ain't one of them, and I'm happy to admit I ain't, the fact that the flash drive is physically capable of being read in 30 years simply won't matter. That's why I crack up reading various vendors' claims of CDs, DVDs, BDs etc. lasting 50 or 100 or more years. The disks will be readable but you'll have no mechanical or logical way to read what's on them.

Re:Not the media that's the problem (1)

jwilkins13 (661548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103083)

Someone reminded me in another forum that you could always microfilm everything - microfilm only requires a light source and a magnifying source, and a drop of water in candlelight would work in a pinch. Then again, who wants to film 2 TB of data? :)

Re:Not the media that's the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103183)

Psh, its not like he's gonna wake up 30 years later and go "Oh yeah! My data! I need it right now!" And then feverishly try to push the USB slot into the wireless receiver, and then start screaming "OH THE FOLLY OF MAN"

If USB really started disappearing, you would go get your USB drives and copy the stuff off of them

Besides, people used to back things up on 5.25" disks, a technology that was invented in 1976 according to wikipedia, and now, 32 years later i don't think you'd have to work too very hard to find a 5.25" drive to attach to your computer if you had to.

Re:Not the media that's the problem (4, Interesting)

C_L_Lk (1049846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103197)

There really is a simple way around this - and it is what I've done - I've got data 25 years old and it's still relatively easily manipulated with a little work. I've found floppy disks are relatively resilient, and old hard drives seem to keep their data for a long time. I've got a computer, display, keyboard, and associated peripherals stored for every generation of data that I kept:
1.I have a Commodore 64 with floppy drive and cassette drive stored in a box with the floppy disks and cassettes from that generation (late 70s/early 80s).
2.I have an IBM PC/XT with keyboard, a 5 1/4" floppy, 3 1/2" floppy, internal 20MB hard drive, and CGA monitor stored in a box with a load of 5 1/4" floppies filled with data from that generation (Mid 80s).
3.I have an IBM RS/6000 with display, keyboard, and mouse and internal 500MB hard drive loaded with all my docs and projects from that generation (early 90s).
4.I have a Pentium 2/300 PC * 15" monitor with windows 98, CD R/W drive, 3 1/2" floppy drive, and USB ports - and a crapload of CD's and 3 1/2" floppies full of stuff from that generation (Mid/late 90s).

When the current generation looks like it's going to be moving on, I'll put away a Core 2 Duo system with 1 TB of hard drive full of stuff with the different OS's I used loaded on it with boot manager (Ubuntu, XP, FreeBSD), a crapload of USB keys full of documents, along with burned DVDs etc. That'll take care of the "'00" generation.

The answer lies in not only archiving your data "of the generation" but the essential equipment needed to access it. I may have a heck of a time moving data off of my Commodore 64 - but I can at least see it and access it - I believe I stored a modem with it - so at worse I could set up a terminal server that it could dial into and dump data to. All the other systems I'm pretty sure I could recover stuff from - even if the PC/XT does have an MFM hard drive, etc.

Wrong question (4, Informative)

the real chahn (727189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102907)

It's impossible for guarantee 100% storage integrity, just like it's impossible to guarantee 100% uptime. What you want to ask is what risk of data loss you are willing to take.

This page compares some of the options [sun.com] in terms of Mean Time To Data Loss (MTTDL). For the amount of space you're looking at (~500gb), a three-way mirror is probably sufficient to last for your lifetime.

But there's always the risk of fat-fingering "rm -rf" or having the building catch fire, so maybe you want to have two synchronized sets of mirrors, stored in different physical locations. Only you can decide if that's too paranoid for you (or not paranoid enough).

Simple solution (1)

johnw (3725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102913)

Paper tape - accept no substitute.

Apart from anything else, the standing waves you can get as it goes through the reader are alone enough to justify it.

Jesus saves, but Buddha makes incremental backups. (2, Informative)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102915)

But seriously, I've had the same (but growing) data set in my /home for over 15 years, and going. I find the easiest way is to just keep it on my drive, and have a few frequently updated copies on external media (optical or solid or dirve) and to keep it on another PC too, disk space is so goddamn cheap. I also have a large music collection, and instead of wasting time backing it up onto optical media, I just keep it on both my notebook and PC, its unlikely both will fail at the same time, and incase of a robbery, I can also archive it at work.

Don't expect any form of media to last forever, it's multiple, frequently updated copies that will ensure your data lasts forever.

Also, if you have friends and family you can trust, make a copy for them to keep for you, off-site backup is also important.

Obviously this all depends on how important and/or private the data is.

my 0.2

Re:Jesus saves, but Buddha makes incremental backu (1)

n1hilist (997601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102947)

Oh and, don't forget to use tools like Gmail drive, you can upload your stuff there, and if I recall you can store up to about 6-7GB on a gmail account nowdays, plus it's free.

Re:Jesus saves, but Buddha makes incremental backu (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103159)

Gmail is only free if you don't care what google (and their CIA/FBI/government overlords) knows about you.

Gmail (3, Interesting)

Opr33Opr33 (1180091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102917)

As the tag implies, Gmail is your friend. 7 gigs per account, searchable, accessible from any connected computer, free, and if in the future, google starts to decline, you can transfer to their replacement.

Hardware solution (1)

VinylPusher (856712) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102921)

I'm currently evaluating the cost-effectiveness of a DroBo (http://www.drobo.com/) for archival VS ease-of-access storage. It's not an inexpensive item, exacerbated by its storage method which gives you 2.7TB actual storage when fed with 4x 1TB drives.

However, the unit is far more resilient than any conventional RAID solution.

Connectivity is via Firewire or USB, with ethernet via an add-on. I'm more interested in this than any other long-term archival method.

I will feed it with some 640GB drives, with a set of spares taken from different vendors. Job done.

An archive is not a long-term backup (5, Insightful)

ewilts (121990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102923)

There is absolutely nothing that you can put away for decades and expect to be useful. Your requirements are not simple - they'll actually very, very hard to meet, even if you want to throw a lot of money at the problem.

You don't know that a jpeg, for example, will be readable in 30 years. The format may be so deprecated that there might not even be a viewer available. Like my old Microsoft Works 4.0 documents - although I have the data, I have nothing that can read them unless I want to spin up an old Windows image, assuming that I can generate a virtualized environment that can support an old Windows (Windows XP probably won't even boot on any PC being produced 30 years from now). And some of that data is only a few years old, not decades old.

You should store not only the data, but also the applications that created the data. And the computer you need to run those applications. And backups of those. And then every few years, pull it all back and validate it and update as required.

You may have only 500GB now, but 10 years from now that will be 5TB. And then you need a way to actually be able to find something you added to your "archive".

I deal with this at work regularly. An archive is not a backup that you keep for a long time. It's much, much more than that. Once you start thinking about all of the issues that come up, you'll see that the media is the least of your problems.

Re:An archive is not a long-term backup (1)

Mistah Blue (519779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103017)

One way to keep those applications around is to instantiate them on a virtual machine, and archive that VM along with the data and the executable for the VM. At least for the moment - VMware VMs are runnable by later versions of the product. This would of course be something to keep track of going forward.

Re:An archive is not a long-term backup (1)

Crookdotter (1297179) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103043)

I don't think this is as big a problem as you are suggesting. Yes, while jpg may not be readable in 30 years by anything of that day, emulation will still be possible. I'd imagine that every system will be part of a grand emulator in 30 years

While I can't get my hands on a decent 48k speccy easily anymore, I can run any emualted code I like through a PC. XP (and all associated software) is so massive in the world of computers that I think at least some people will still run it for fun in 30 years, if not in reality then on virtual systems.

It wouldn't be hard to store a disc image of XP with associated software along with your files, and if there's not an NTFS PC emulator in 30 years I'll eat my solar powered holographic hat.

Re:An archive is not a long-term backup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103199)

When I first heard of Works, I had sense enough to NEVER use it for data. It was obvious when it came out that it would ALWAYS be a dead end. You need to convert them now or just forget them them and move on.

Re:An archive is not a long-term backup (4, Insightful)

eean (177028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103263)

I think we do know that a JPEG will be readable in 30 years. Formats that have been around for like 10-20 years like JPEG are going to be here for a long while longer; I'd say until the end of civilization at a minimum (and even then, it wouldn't be hard for people to figure out the format). The worse case is that in future generations only a librarian or data archaeologist would have the tool to open it. Given the open source nature of JPEG, more likely you'll just download a JPEG viewer.

MS Work 4.0 documents is completely different. There was always only one implementation, it wasn't open source, it wasn't a documented standard, and the life span of the format was small to tiny.

Sorry, it's insoluble. (4, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102941)

I believe this to be a serious problem with no good solution currently. That's the truth. You'll get lots of dismissive posts saying it's no big deal, but it is.

Forget media integrity. The problem is technology drift. Everyone thinks "ubiquitous" (as in every computer has a USB port) is the same as "eternal," and it isn't. Twenty years from now, your USB thumb drives and CD-R's may have their data physically intact, but only museums will have equipment that can read them.

It is a fantasy to suppose that you can successfully perform Sisyphus-like task of systematically recopying your data to new media and formats. The proof of this is the innumerable stories of big, well-funded organizations that have neglected to do this. If the NASAs of the world keep finding reels of tape with important data on it that can't be read due to technology skew, what makes you think that you can do much better?

(What makes me bitter is failure of vendors to give adequate warning when software updates remove the capabilities of reading file formats that were formerly supported. I once verified that my new Mac could read my old MFS diskettes, and did not notice when a software update to the OS removed that capability. Microsoft was less than forthcoming when they removed the built-in ability of Excel to read Multiplan files).

Re:Sorry, it's insoluble. (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102995)

Scanners will still be around, in some form.

Paperdisk.

Then, file formats will be your only problem. Stick with open formats, and it'll be able to be figured out.

Re:Sorry, it's insoluble. (1)

puppyfox (833883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103137)

Let's see, Paperdisk stores 1MB per page, so he would need to store more than 500,000 pages of paper somewhere. Not all that convenient.

Re:Sorry, it's insoluble. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103255)

I doubt we lose USBs anytime soon unless it is an upgrade port that can still use them. My new computer still has both a SERIAL and PARALLEL ports for God's sake.

Worst case scenerio over-planning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103275)

Wow, I'm surprised Slashdot could be so miss-informed when it comes to this. While I agree that there is no way to put data in a spot for 10 years and expect to be able to use it easily, there are plenty of solutions for this depending on your needs.

If you take the technology-skew argument to the next level you could say you will never be able to store your data for more then a year, because a asteroid would destroy it. NASA is not comparable to even a large business let alone the home user who posted this question.

1. Open file formats or least common denominator formats. Convert documents to plain text. Avoid proprietary formats, obviously.

2. Nothing fancy like SCSI. S-ATA obviously today. I'm sure they will still be offering systems with S-ATA capacity in 2018. Use what ever home consumers are using. 2028? Well since you used a consumer-grade system, you will be able to find supporting systems on eBay. How old is the Commodore 64? Even less popular systems can easily be found.

flash cards (1)

juenger1701 (877138) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102953)

get flash cards make at least 2 full copies (3 is better) and do full 100% reads from all the cards at least twice a year or buy space with a major hosting company and store a copy there and have at least 1 copy on flash cards that you check regularly it's not the throw it in a drawer and forget for 10 years solution you want but that solution doesn't exist

juenger1701

Re:flash cards (1)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103231)

If you do use flash drives (or CDs / DVD, for that matter), make sure to do a 100% redundancy par2 copy on one of them. This will allow you to retrieve data using either disk, even with massive corruption.

Cheers

It doesn't exist. (4, Insightful)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102955)

You are the analogy of an investor who wants a high-yield, low-risk, completely liquid instrument. The term is TANSTAAFL.

I maintain two (yes, two) USB external drives. Every couple of years, I migrate to a larger, or otherwise better medium. I use an incremental backup system (for me, cpio) that ends up keeping too much stuff, but at least I have the stuff I want if I need to get to it.

In a decade - in my case, four decades - one can accumulate a remarkable amount of crap, along with things one truly wants to save. I have a total of about 90 gig of actual data, plus a far larger amount of music and video, which I consider more or less disposable. It is not difficult, nor expensive, to purchase another external drive and copy the data. My oldest backup is on IBM 2314 disk pack, but the data still held on that disk is also present on my current backup, a WD 160G in a USB-1 enclosure. Sometime next year, I'll go to a 500 G drive in a USB-2 enclosure.

An important consideration is to periodically check to see that the data ostensibly held on a drive (or CD, or DVD) is actually readable. DVD/RW in particular has a tendency to get flakey over long periods of time, expecially if stored under adverse conditions (jammed in back of desk drawer, under sixteen pair of scissors, stapler, a box of pop-tarts, and four old coffee cups. I always keep my last few generations of backups, and if I find an unreadable datum, I make an effort to recover it from the previous backup.

While it may be stating the obvious, it's a Bad Idea (TM) to wait to back up data until you have a problem. I back up all of my data every week or two, and critical data, daily, without fail. Critical data is cached as a three-generation dataset (IBMese).

Good luck. There are no real solutions, just ways to cope.

Obviously the best storage method ever. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26102971)

1) Encrypt your data
2) Tack it onto the end of some anime or porno mpg
3) upload to kazaa/gnutella/whatever

It'll still be circulating the net long after our grandchildren are dead.

Stone tablets (5, Funny)

DaveLatham (88263) | more than 5 years ago | (#26102977)

Very durable. Write speed is a bit slow though...

Again, Quality DVDs (2, Informative)

Ormy (1430821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103005)

If you buy quality DVDs and take good care of them they will quite probably last for decades, perhaps half a century. They are expected to degrade over many years but some of the CDs written back when CDs were first invented are still readable today so nobody really knows how long they might last. There is a similar problem for HDDs, while in constant use MTBFs are well established, but for a HDD that is written to and then left unpowered for many years, well again nobody really knows because we haven't observed it yet. I'd say go for both, obviously HDDs have the massive advantage that you can plug one 500GB and write all your data to it all in one go. To store that much on DVDs will take you days or weeks to write to each disc one or even two at a time. I know, I have over 1.5TB of data backed up on DVDs which number over 500 already.

stone tablets (1)

Maddog_D97 (743377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103033)

Write the information on stone tablets. If you can't be bothered to do that, then at least use a medium that doesn't require electricity.

Easy (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103035)

I believe that ridulian crystal is your best choice for long-term storage.

No pain, no gain... (1)

parrini (840878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103051)

More than one copy in separate geographic locations is important but media diversity also is. Suppose you buy 3 500Gb HDs from the same manufacturer just to discover they have the same defect. There is no way to have a catastrophe proof backup without putting a great deal of work in it. Disciplin, automation, location diversity, backup media renewal, media diversity, everything is important.

Raid 5 primary, plus Raid 1 backup (1)

klahnako (209184) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103059)

DVDs will fail on you when you least expect it. Service providers will dissapear over the years.

The only sure method is to maintin the backup, and incure the monthly maintnenence fee (either actual money for backup service, or consume your time maintining the backup server yourself).

My primary machine is Raid5, so data is not lost. My backup server is Raid1 (because drives will silently fail). I use a backup service just in case the other two fail (but sensitive information can not go there).

My experience is that a server can last almost a year without hardware failure. Same with hard drives: I have 6 drives, one or two will fail inside the year.

That reminds me, my backupserver died last week. :(

Jungle Disk (1)

MarkKnopfler (472229) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103077)

Jungle disk frontend for s3. Easy, pay as you go and redundancy and multiple backups are taken care of by s3

Stop asking Slashdot about this... (2, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103133)

... honestly, Slashdot - and others - have covered this time and time again. Nothing has changed. There still isn't a cheap digital storage medium that we know for sure -will- retain your data -and- be readable (in terms of media -and- the hardware to read that media) down to the very last bit for your grandchildren.

IF and when there's a breakthrough, I'm sure Slashdot is one of the first places you'll hear about it.. but it won't be in an answer to an Ask Slashdot.

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/21/1257249 [slashdot.org] - Digital Media Archiving Challenges Hollywood
http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/11/20/2036247 [slashdot.org] - Archiving Digital Data an Unsolved Problem
http://hardware.slashdot.org/hardware/06/12/11/1714232.shtml [slashdot.org] - How To Choose Archival CD/DVD Media
http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/26/218250&from=rss [slashdot.org] - Archiving Digital History at the NARA
http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/31/2141204 [slashdot.org] - How To Properly Archive Data On Disc Media .. and so forth and so on.

Yes, I realize that you stated "I'm not looking to start my own national archive; I have less than 500GBs and only save things important to me". However, it doesn't really matter whether you're archiving hollywood movies, NASA records or just your own random crap. If it is important to you - important enough that you want it to be "lasting for decades if possible" - then your concerns are the same as NASA's... and they're struggling with the exact same question.

The 'best' answer so far is one you will find in each and every single discussion on this - including this thread, so I'll just point you there:
http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1061489&cid=26102825 [slashdot.org]

You mentioned 'cheap', as otherwise all the answers saying "duuuuude, ditch the digital - go analog!" might have some validity.. take a wild guess as to what it would cost to have thousands of photos transferred to negatives/prints, or video transferred to tape/film, etc. Plus you mentioned documents.. some of those may not transfer to e.g. paper (easily) at all depending on the 'documents' in question; e.g. CAD files.

Hard drives fail, but rarely at the same time... (1)

wernst (536414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103135)

Look, I know how you feel. I'm a professional writer and journalist, and the digital files I save are pretty much the only result of my life's work, so I try to save them for the future. I'm in the same position, but I seem to have a system that works.

Amazingly, (or sadly, depending on your opinion) I also have all of the documents and material I've ever created (starting with the disks from my Apple //e from high school in the mid 80's, to my emails and my first book's Word files from the early 90's, and everything since including about 300GB of photos) still immediately accessible and viable. It comes from the following understanding:

Hard drives (or basically any storage medium) can and do fail, but they tend to do so in a predictable pattern, but rarely at the same time, so the key is duplication and regular maintenance.

For example, hard drives tend to have a 5-year lifespan, but two identical hard drives in two different machines aren't going to fail on the same day unless there's a fire or natural disaster that wipes out your room/building/city/whatever.

So what I do is have a system where your data is regularly backed up or duplicated at least two times to at least two devices, and then regularly check them. These days I use syncing software that copies my files to a second drive (internal or external - doesn't matter) and then to a second drive to another computer on the LAN. If the syncing software can't read the destination disk during the sync process, then I immediately know something's wrong with that disk, but it's no big deal to replace it and resync, because the chances of the original disk and the first duplicated filestore of both going bad in those couple of days is basically nil. The syncing happens every night. (And I know, I'm already up to three drives, but two drives would be fine, and drives are cheap anyways.)

Every few months or so, I grab a portable external drive from my office a few towns over and make a new copy of my files, and then return the portable drive. The chances of both all my home copies of my files AND the external drive at my office going bad at the same time is practically nil. And the chance of a major natural disaster destroying the disks at both locations is very remote too.

And then replace any drive that fails as the years pass. The new drives will be much bigger than the originals, allowing for more room for more data as the years pass.

Frankly, I think the notion of keeping digital data store that remains inert for decades is silly. You're always making new data. You (probably) always want it backed up. So the data store should always be changing. Once you accept that, and then accept a storage medium that allows for regular changing and updating, and then accept the need for duplication, then data storage isn't risky. Add automated software to do the syncing for you, and it isn't even troublesome.

(And what about those Apple // files, you ask? I have two working Apple //s I still play with to read the duplicated original disks. But those disks were also copied to a Compact Flash card, which I now use on the IIGS as a hard drive. The CF card is backed up to the PC, which an Apple II emulator reads just fine. The backup image of the CF card is always synced between the hard drives. I know, TMI.)

Skydrive (1)

viggity (1430837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103143)

I know M$ isn't that popular here, but skydrive.live.com gives you 25 GB storage for free. And I really doubt MS is going anywhere in the next couple decades. Plus, I'm sure that the 25 GB limit will be increased in the not so distant future.

Solid State Drives? (1)

klashn (1323433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103157)

How about Solid State storage drives? They are increasing in capacity. Intel currently has an 80gb model out. It uses NAND flash. They are quite expensive right now though. That 80gb model costs about $600-$700. Of course as the manufacturing process gets better the drives will become cheaper and the sizes, larger.

Changing formats (3, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103161)

[From Slashwayback]: Dear Keypunch, I have data I want to keep for decades. Should I invest in a good card reader, or should I transfer my data to these far more efficient but newfangled "floppy disks"?

It's pretty ridiculous to expect one storage format to be viable for 'decades'. Not because it goes bad (even though it probably does), but because you're not likely to be able to maintain the necessary equipment for that long. If you find a storage solution, you need a retrieval solution to equal it. What equipment will you be able to find decades on that can access your storage, even if it stays good? You have no idea.

I've been maintaining a collection of Apple IIs and recopying the programs and data regularly (mostly through full HD backup, reformat with error block deletion, reformatting and replacing) to keep it readable. I have machines and data between 20 and 30 years old. I recognized long ago this had become a hobby in its own right, as most of what I had hasn't been of interest to me for many years. The little bits that have been useful have been transferred to newer machines and formats several times. That's decreased as more and more of it can be found easily on the web (previously FTP/gopher/etc.).

Get used to transferring your data to new formats as they come into widespread use, and recopying as necessary to keep them readable. Or else:

[From Slashwayforward] Dear Galactic EM Field Computing, I just found about 20 pounds of aluminized plastic disks that used to have data on them, but I can't read them to tell if I still want it. Is there any museum that might want these? Or are there still any operating plastic recycling centers that might give me a few bucks for them?

redundant storage on the web (1)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103165)

I would suggest using at least two quality options from:

1. Apple's MobileMe (used to be called .Mac): you get only 20 gigs of storage with a basic subscription, but storage upgrades are cheap enough.

2. high quality managed (or partially managed) hosting - if you need this anyway for business use, get extra disk space. Make sure that their backups are regular and secure.

3. Other paid for storage options.

4. back up to DVD-Rs, and recopy every 2 or 3 years. I buy different brands, and rotate which I use. Redundant copies, redundant copies, redundant copies...

Basically, secure long range backup requires laying out some money.

For video, giving copies to friends and family members is good also, except that DVD-Rs have a short shelf life, unless you pay a lot extra for gold foil DVD-Rs.

Two hard drives + fireproof safe. (1)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103191)

Take two hard drives, different makes / models, dump all your important data to them and put them in a fire proof safe.

The only fool proof thing I can think of- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103193)

Hard copies of any important documents. Its been working for hundreds of years and is impervious to technology leaps. It might sound archaic now but in 10 years when your .wpd file or whatever needs a 8 year old program on a 15 year old OS to be read... well... it just makes sense.

The other option would be to save everything as .txt or .rtf files. Universally readable on any OS.

As for graphics files, I would try the .jpg or .png format. All programs still read .gif's, and those are 20 years old at least. I would suggest that most programs 20 years from now will read .jpg files or .png. As for media storage... I dunno. Perhaps a dedicated laptop with SSD drive big enough for all your data would be good. Integrated OS and media reader, should be good for 20 years.

Continuous copying to new media (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103219)

My answer is to periodically copy all of my backup data to a new, larger hard drive. Drives get bigger and cheaper...my data grows...perfect match.

As interfaces, formats, or software become obsolete, I always keep up with the current technology.

I am skeptical of any solution that promises tens or hundreds of years of accurate retention.

whatever you do, do it twice (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103247)

When you do find a solution - or just get sick of looking for the "perfect" one and therefore settle (which is what we all do in the end), don't just leave it there.

Assume that something will go wrong. So don't just keep one copy - make sure there are at least two. Keep them in geographically separate locations: maybe with a family member, if you can trust them.

Personally, I'd go for two different solutions: maybe one magnetic and one optical. However, whatever you decide on, make sure to get it all back and test it. Even better, rewrite it every few years.

industrial-grade compactflash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26103253)

i use industrial-grade compactflash cards.

Sandisk used to make very reliable stuff, but they don't produce 'em anymore...

nowadays it seems SiliconSystems SiliconDrive is the only product that's actually designed for extreme circumstances (-40 degC to 85 degC; 8% to 95% non-condensing humidity; vibration, shock and altitude according to MIL-STD-810F) and long-term storage (10 years guaranteed). they also have very detailed datasheets publicly available, so you can easily construct a reader in the future.

the advantage of compactflash? small, durable, and very easy to interface with an IDE-bus - you just have to gamble on the fact that there will be legacy-IDE busses on the market in the future...

Simple fix to this non-probem... (1)

dmx11523 (840399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26103291)

Buy 5 Hd's....You'll have 5 copies and if you see technology changing, put it on the "new" tech....you'll be fine. The chance that 5 HD's all fail at once is zero. If that worries you, make copies of the drive on DVD's or Blu-Ray. I have HD"s from 15 years ago that I just copied onto newer drives. I left the info on the old drive too, I have 5+ copies of all my data at least. Then the copy on my PC. It would take a nuke hitting Detroit to destroy my data. If that happened (and I survive) I'd just head to my family in LA. I shipped them a drive a few years back that I check in on once in awhile. They send it to me sometimes to update but overall it's chillin' in LA safe.
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