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Bit Rot Stalks Your Digital Keepsakes

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the oh-if-all-the-things-lost-were-found dept.

Media 535

axlrosen writes "The NYTimes has an article about the problems of digital archiving. How many of your digital memories will still be around 50 years from now, considering lost disks, incompatible formats, hard drive crashes, fading CD-Rs, etc.? Unfortunately Peter Briggs' solution won't work for most of us. The only real way to make sure that your grandkids get to see your digital photos is to make real photographic prints from them. (When I bought my Mom a digital camera I installed Picasa for her, and made sure she knows to order real prints of all the pictures she wants to survive through the ages...)"

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Tell me about it (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778298)

Half of my 5.25" floppies don't work anymore!

Re:Tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778410)

I have a nearly 90% failure rate on all of my 3 1/2" floppies. I've tried different drives, different cables, different computers altogether, but the failure rate is abysmal, even on new floppies, fresh out of the box on new drives.

Re:Tell me about it (4, Informative)

kentmartin (244833) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778427)

I just had a bit of a google. According to this [manifest-tech.com] DVDs have a lifetime of 30-50 years.

A better read though, is this [about.com] which is an article about who to best go about long term storage on CDRs.

It includes the tip, amongst a load of others, that the top of CDR's is far more fragile and needs to be treated with great care.

Every 2-3 years (4, Insightful)

zeke-o (595753) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778305)

move your stuff to the next "permanent" media

Re:Every 2-3 years (4, Insightful)

Tet (2721) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778377)

move your stuff to the next "permanent" media

Or rather, dispense with the concept of permanent media altogether. I realised a few years ago that the only sane way to protect my data was to have it all online all the time. I store my data on redundant arrays of disks in two geographical locations (my house and my parents' house, synced nightly via rsync). This is IMHO a far better solution than backing up to tape or CD/DVD. LVM makes the process of moving the data to bigger disks trivial. Where it falls down is for really large volumes of data. Places like CERN that generate terabytes of data per day are going to struggle in the not too distant future. Archived data will become a real problem (even more than it is now).

I dunno (5, Funny)

paranode (671698) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778542)

I don't think the basement really qualifies as being a separate house. I mean, what if the whole place goes up in flames?

Re:I dunno (5, Funny)

doctormetal (62102) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778606)

I don't think the basement really qualifies as being a separate house. I mean, what if the whole place goes up in flames?

Just protect your computer by placing a firewall around it ;)

There's still a single point of failure (2, Interesting)

Tim Macinta (1052) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778593)

I realised a few years ago that the only sane way to protect my data was to have it all online all the time. I store my data on redundant arrays of disks in two geographical locations (my house and my parents' house, synced nightly via rsync).
What if somebody hacks your primary machine and erases your data? This would propagate to your backup server as well. I see at least two solutions to this: 1) make a WORM copy every so often and/or 2) write to the backup server is a journaled manner so that older data isn't automatically deleted. Of course, solution #1 is still prone to bit-rot and solution #2 doesn't protect you if somebody hacks your backup server as well (which should be substantially easier if they made it onto your primary machine). Anybody have additional suggestions? I've been thinking about this problem for a backup program I'm working on and am curious if anybody can improve upon the reliability.

Watch out for mistakes (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778603)

I store my data on redundant arrays of disks in two geographical locations (my house and my parents' house, synced nightly via rsync).

Do you run rsync with --delete? If not, how do you deal with moved files? If so, how do you deal with accidental deletion?

I grant that you've solved the decaying media problem, but I've lost more data to screwups than to bitrot.

Re:Every 2-3 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778384)

Exactly. I've had a growing collection of digital pictures since I got my first digital camera ten years ago. It's up to about 8 gigs now (after pruning a lot).

Every time I get a new PC, I copy the files to two seperate drives, and burn new backup CDs.

This seems like a pretty obvious and easy thing to do. I'm sure most PC users (even the non-geeks could do this with no problem.

In other words, so-called "bit rot" is a non-existant issue.

Re:Every 2-3 years (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778562)

Or just keep an older media reader handy. I've still got a 5 1/4" floppy drive and a few Bernoulli drives laying around in case I ever need to read data from those types of disks.

Re:Every 2-3 years (1)

Luminari (689987) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778573)

move your stuff to the next "permanent" media

Yeah get your data imprinted on cd's made of titanium.

Umm (2, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778312)

"REAL Photos" wear out too.

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778336)

Yes, but in a predictable and semi-reversible fashion.

Re:Umm (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778370)

While it is ture that they wear out too, But if you keep them in good contition they can easilly last for hundreds of years. The oldest Data I have seen is from the early 1980's and they are probably electronic data from a decade earlier too.

Re:Umm (2, Informative)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778488)

While it is ture that they wear out too, But if you keep them in good contition they can easilly last for hundreds of years.

Nobody's too sure how long inkjet printouts will last. My own printer's inks and paper are supposedly safe for a century (according to accelerated ageing tests using ultra-violet lamps, or something similar), but I'll still be keeping all the original JPEGs, regularly backed up on to some lowest-common-denominator medium (currently CDRs).

Professional digital photo prints are likely be be pretty long-lasting if they're the optical ones done on to real light-sensitive photographic paper - they'll probably be identical to conventional colour photos. Keep them out the light, in a cool, dry place, and they probably won't fade significantly for decades.

Still, keep those JPEGs... :-)

Re:Umm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778586)

No, use bitmaps. They have more bits and are therefore more resistant to bit-rot.

Re:Umm (5, Interesting)

pyro101 (564166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778523)

Hundreds of years? Have you seen the fade on photos 50 years ago, 100 years ago? These are even supposed to be the cherrished chemical grail that will make photos last forever. Would you like to know what photographers do with photos/film that they want to last for years, put them in a pitch black room insde of binders in drawers, that are rarely opened. The room is controlled both for humidity and temp. I'll take buying a new HDD every 6 months to that. Then you can print new prints every 10 years and abuse them to hearts wishes, not have to place the photo over there since it is too close to the sunlight, or go rabid if a kid tears up a $.20 peice of paper.

But very differently.. (4, Insightful)

vhold (175219) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778430)

The fact that digital data rarely goes from "Perfect" to "Ok" to "umm not so good" to "What is that?".. it tends to go from "Perfect" to "Gone/Maybe not gone but very expensive to retrieve," makes it's worth discussing the finer points of digital archival versus analog.

Re:Umm (1)

MinusBlindfold (775913) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778432)

A slightly faded 60 year old printed photograph is of much greater value to your grand kids than that photo CD you burned that will most likely be totally unreadable in less than 10 years.. not to mention that CD drives as we know them will probabaly not exist then either. I suspect we'll have to copy our photos over to the next hot storage medium before the old ones wear out.

Re:Umm (4, Informative)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778440)

Properly cared for, black and white negatives will keep for a very long time. Nobody knows exactly how long "a long time" is, but negatives from the turn of the last century are still perfectly viable.

Colour materials are another matter. Because they are based on chemical dyes instead of silver crystals, they are subject to chemical change (i.e. fading). Current films quote longevity of 50 to 100 years.

...laura

Re:Umm (4, Insightful)

philbert26 (705644) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778456)

"REAL Photos" wear out too.

This is especially true if you print them out at home. Which makes me even madder that I fell for that "here's a cheap printer with a gazillion DPI" scam that Epson was running a few years back. Once I added the cost of photo paper and cartridges, it was more expensive than developing the pics.

Re:Umm (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778533)

Just my 2 cents, but the black and white, old time silver photograph my grandma showed me of the first family member in America from like 1870 or something looked better than any digital print out I've seen lately. Granted, the image was never super clear to begin with, but it almost hasn't aged. Its slow and expensive, but chemical processes have a permenence digital stuff lacks.

Offtopic (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778313)

Offtopic

A few things (-1, Troll)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778325)

1) The NYTimes article link requires a login. 2) I don't have the time to sign up 3) Most of us have known of digital decay for a long time. It was blatently apparent with magnetic medium [as dropout has be known to occur in every magnetic medium over the years)

Re:A few things (4, Insightful)

1000101 (584896) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778367)

"2) I don't have the time to sign up "


But you have time to read a story on /. and post a reply??

Re:A few things (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778385)

User "gaygaygay"
Pass "gaygaygay"

Hope that helps.

Re:A few things (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778472)

NO WAY! My 5 1/4 floppy of "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego" works as good as the day I got it!

Quit whining (2, Insightful)

bigtangringo (800328) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778517)

Posting links that require login isn't particularly new. Do you complain about them EVERY time they're posted?

Use http://www.bugmenot.com/

Thank me later.

Re:Quit whining (3, Funny)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778584)

Posting links that require login isn't particularly new. Do you complain about them EVERY time they're posted?

Complaining about posted links that require login isn't particularly new. Do you complain about comments like this EVERY time they're posted?

Perpetual backups (4, Insightful)

Gentoo Fan (643403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778330)

Short of having titanium punchcards with your data bits punched in (and even then...) you are simply going to have to keep backing up and backing up. I'd rather have my data on 2 new hard drives than a dozen decade-old ones.

Re:Perpetual backups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778354)

Raid 5 your CD-Rs. Problem solved uh as long as you have enough CD-ROM drives..

Re:Perpetual backups (4, Insightful)

elmegil (12001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778437)

Not only insightful, but also "duh" obvious. Guess what? All those photos your grandparents took? They're fading. They're not perpetual. You're going to have to have them digitized and reprinted if you want "prints" that last forever. Every medium degrades, some faster, some slower. Digital is not so much subject to decay as it is to obsolecense, but the same principles apply. Keep doing technology refreshes and you should be fine.

Re:Perpetual backups (1)

Gentoo Fan (643403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778491)

It's certainly "duh" for techies, but for the n00b crowd I think they hear "digital" and think "permanent". The way some things are marketed (like satelite TV, etc) they associate "digital" with high-tech, just-write-a-CD-and-forget-about-it. It's hard enough to get people to back up their data, it will be even harder to convice some that their media isn't permanent.

Re:Perpetual backups (0)

Reziac (43301) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778484)

I dunno.. I've got a dozen decade-old HDs (all WDs) that show no sign of dying and are still in 100% perfect condition. I suspect they will outlive most current HDs, too, making them quite possibly MORE reliable as long-term storage.

Re:Perpetual backups (1)

Gentoo Fan (643403) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778528)

Sure, depends on how much data you have. Hard drives are so commodity these days though I'd think it is cheaper to RAID a few 200Gig'ers opposed to maintaining a lot of 1Gig'ers for things like music archives, etc.

Re:Perpetual backups (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778501)

you are simply going to have to keep backing up and backing up

I would imagine that there will be an offsite storage facility for digital data as soon as its not common for ISPs to cap upload limits.

Hmm, new startup idea?

Re:Perpetual backups (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778581)

you are simply going to have to keep backing up and backing up

Not true, you can do like I do and post it to the internet. Its like a great big distributed archive. I keep all my music and movies there...

Permanent (2, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778333)

That's why I still use punchcards.

Re:Permanent (1)

irish_spic (18702) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778474)

how do you interpret the occasional hanging chad?
is it the Florida system?
when are you going to upgrade to to a modern electronic system?

Re:Permanent (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778568)

Yeah but if you have a hanging chad, Windows might get installed instead of Linux.

incompatible formats??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778339)

What's he talkin about?? Whats the latest format to come out since the jpeg?? And who expects the tiff to go away??

Re:incompatible formats??? (1)

RubberDuckie (53329) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778537)

Everything is replaced at some point. tiff may not go away for many many years, but 100 years from now you may not be able to easily read formats that are common today.

I was going through some really old pictures (75 + years) with relatives recently. All we had to do was pass the photographs around. 100 years from now, my great grandchildren will have a hard time figuring out what a CD is, much less how to read it.

rsync (1, Funny)

kjamez (10960) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778343)


use elite [kiddie] scripts to hack hundreds of co-lo servers, mount an encrypted drive, rsync all the stuff there (distributed). maintain. global distributed backups. i think you can ever buy lists of already compromised computers, too. that'd make that just a little easier.

Re:rsync (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778358)

No, just use GMail for storage and let Google take care of backing things up.

Distributed Backup System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778511)

Kazaa?
Bittorrent?
they all work amazingly well :)

STORY TIME WITH TEH HUNTER!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778345)

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http://www.adcombat.com/ubbADCC_Forum/ubb/Forum1 /H TML/032647.html

http://www.adcombat.com/ubbADCC_Forum/ubb/Forum1 /H TML/032608.html

"I CANNOT believe your skinny little asS is talking sh1t to ME!?! ARE YOU CRAZY?! YOU MUST BE! CRAZY AND STUPID! I am MORE BLACK THAN YOU WILL EVER BE, YOU B1TCH AsS! MY WIFE IS BLACK, MY DAUGHTER IS BLACK, MY DAD IS BLACK! SO WATCH YOUR MOUTH B1TCH! YOU ARE WITHIN A FEW HUNDRED MILES OF GETTING HURT! GS, RATTLER AND KICKBOXX ARE MY FRIENDS, AND YOU ALWAYS TRY TO TEAR THIS BOARD UP WITH YOUR PSEUDO BLACK MILITANT SH1T! AND EVERYONE IS TIRED OF IT! I HAVE TOLD EVERYONE HERE A MILLION TIMES, TRINIDAD IS MY FVCKING COUSIN! I SEE HIM AT FAMILY REUNIONS IN PUERTO RICO! ARECIBO AND BAYAMON! STEP UP TO GET BEAT DOWN B1TCH! AND GREGO IS MORE OF A FAMILY MEMBER TO ME THAN YOUR FAKE BLACK AsS WILL EVER BE! BECAUSE HE IS REAL! HE DOES NOT HATE BLACKS OR MINORITES! HE JUST HATES YOU!"

"JUST DO YOUR THING AND LEAVE ME EVERYTHING ABOUT ME ALONE! I AM JUST SO FED UP WITH YOU AND YOUR WAYS! WHAT DO I DO WRONG HERE? ALL I DO IS HELP, IN ANY AND EVERY WAY THAT I CAN! SO WHY YOU HATE ME, IS A DAMN MYSTERY TO ME! I NEVER POST POLITICS, RELIGION, NOTHING! YOU ON THE OTHER HAND, THAT IS ALL YOU DO! AND YET YOU ARE THE ONE ALWAYS JUMPING ON MY SH1T! YOU ARE THE ONE ALWAYS HATING, AND HATING ON ME! SO PLEASE, TRUCE, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE ONCE AND FOR ALL! AND I WILL DO THE SAME! I APOLOGIZE TO YOU AND ALL OF ADCC, I LOST MY TEMPER! PEACE!"

Sounds like this angry "black" man could use the soothing, reassuring company of the GNAA!

If you would like to extend the hand of brotherhood, please let teh Hunter know at:

dosanmartialarts@yahoo.com

Thanks, AND GOD BLESS!!!!111

Fun facts about TEH HUNTER:

- Has posted pictures of himself sucking his own dick. TRUE!

- Has straight hair (often seen in a metrosexual Steven Seagal-style ponytail) and white skin, yet is actually a BLACK MAN! TRUE!

- Has variously alternated between being a 200-lb hunk of muscle, and a 300-lb tubby. TRUE!

- Is hungry hungry hungry for your e-mails! TRUE DAT FO SHIZZLE!

WWLD? (5, Funny)

chris mazuc (8017) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778349)

"Backups are for wimps. Real men upload their data to an FTP site and have everyone else mirror it."

--Linus Torvalds

Re:WWLD? (2, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778435)

Maybe funny, but there is some truth to that. For instance, I run webhosting service [suso.org] that has been around since '97 and I have moved all the user data to new machines at least 4 times now as I upgrade the machine. Theoretically, someone could put their precious pictures on the server and have them "live forever".

Probably a good idea for a profitable service would be a gigantic digital safety deposit box.

Re:WWLD? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778555)

Probably a good idea for a profitable service would be a gigantic digital safety deposit box.

I'm working on it. Watch this space...

Re:WWLD? (5, Funny)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778497)

Very simple solution:
  • Zip up all your files
  • Encrypt with GPG/PGP
  • Rename to "Olsen Twins Nude - XXX.zip"
  • Upload on Kazaa

Re:WWLD? (1)

Baron von Blapp (767958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778589)

rotflmfao Nice one, very correct... your files would circle the globe for a quarter century on a massive distributed file backup system. Then all you gotta do is DL your "olsen pics" in a decade or 2 and they would be in perfect condition :P

www.bugmenot.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778360)

www.bugmenot.com

Re:www.bugmenot.com (1)

sxtxixtxcxh (757736) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778396)

for nytimes... uid: cannedsoup pwd: cannedsoup

Keep em moving (1)

samael (12612) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778374)

Just remember to move to a new PC every couple of years, and back up the most important data, and you'll be fine!

I have files that are 15 years old purely because every time I move PC I copy all the data onto the new one.

Re:Keep em moving (1)

ygbsm (158794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778556)

but can you still open them? what happens when a ubiquitious file format falls into disuse? how long until you can no longer readily access the content because there is nothing that reads the file type?

Boingboing.net article contents (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778380)

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Alien v Predator script saved by Internet pirates
Amazing anaecdote from Peter Briggs, the author of the screenplay for Alien Versus Predator.

I wrote "A vs P" originally - oh, God...did you hear that? I actually said "A vs P". I hate that thing...it's like "T2" or "LXG"! Anyway, I wrote it on an Amstrad computer, which was about one step above a Univac Room Filler. In '92 I swapped to an Apple Mac, which I've used ever since. And I ended up losing the Amstrad disk, which was some weird, unreadable proprietary brand anyway. It wasn't until whoever it was transcribed it and pirated it onto the web years later, that I was able to cut-and-paste it into Final Draft and have an electronic copy again. So, thank-you, Internet Leaker, wherever you were!

Re:Boingboing.net article contents (2, Funny)

bstanton0101 (631858) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778426)

There was a script for that movie? Next you'll be telling me professional wrestling is real.

Re:Boingboing.net article contents (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778487)

Well, hell, that's as good an argument against piracy as you're likely to hear on slashdot.

Don't redistribute movie scripts! You might be partially responsible for 90 minutes of utter shite.

Oy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778587)

That was hardly worth saving.

What I used to think (1)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778382)

Back when I had a bunch of floppy disks and also when I had an Amiga I used to think about what I would do with all the information to keep it from degrading. I thought that someday I would write the stuff from the couple hundred floppies to a CD-R. But I never got around too it. And now I've sold my Amiga, so I'll have to buy another one.

I think the biggest problem for me is getting around to converting them from the old format to the new.

If you think about the rate of growth in storage formats, you can always beat bitrot by a couple years by storing X number of old medium on 1 of the new medium. Because the new medium is usually X+ times the size of the old.

Re:What I used to think (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778438)

Most of those amiga floppies are probably bad now. There's just something about the way Amiga wrote DSDD floppies that makes them more unreliable than the same floppy used in a PC.

Re:What I used to think (2, Interesting)

liminality (695708) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778496)

there isnt a problem with digital records so long as you keep your formats up to date and have backups. generally, it seems like you should revisit data that is two years old to check if the format needs to be brought up to date before its too late. another good idea is to avoid anythign proprietary, including weird Microsfot implementations of common standards. saving digital photos as simple .jpgs is a better idea than saving them as photoshop documents for example. also, dont forget that scripting can be your friend. i use all kinds of applescripts to manage and batch-process my colleciton 1000's of digital photos so that i dont have to drop them into something proprietary like iPhoto.

Wow... (1)

digitalamish (449285) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778386)

I guess it's good news for at least one company [kodak.com] .

Reg Free Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778390)

Reg Free [nytimes.com]

AC to avoid Karma Whoreage

-OverlordQ

-1, Redundant (0, Redundant)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778395)

Haven't we seen a dozen or so articles on Slashdot alone about CDR and other bitrot? Slow news day? Or is it because its an NYT article?

50 years?? (3, Interesting)

oddwick11 (446434) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778400)

I am going through similar problems right now. I have about 30 floppies containing drafts of my mother's first novel. She wrote it in the early nineties on an IBM, using some early version of wordperfect.

I decided to recover them and save the data on a CD, and I realized I didnt have a floppy drive installed on any of my machines! Somewhere in storage I had a USB floppy drive, but I cant get any software to read her files.

My solution: buy antiquated hardware.

You speak the truth... (1)

cyanobyte (643838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778403)

I can't tell you how many times at the various programming jobs I have worked that we needed to restore the backups of our source code to an older version only to find out that the tapes were corrupt. I have also experienced CD/DVD rot when we tried them as a substitute because of tape problems. At one company I was at we got so tired of the corrupt tapes/disc's that we started keeping everything on hard drives, but even then the harddrives would still go bad sitting on the shelves occasionally. I can't imagine how well a seagate barracuda is going to work after 50 years. My guess is not at all.

Yeah, because that what we need. (0)

Zangief (461457) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778405)

Obnoxius people showing us photos of their kids, vacations, whatever. Digital photography just made things worse, and now they want to preserve them for eternity!!!

--
Wiki de Ciencia Ficcion y Fantasia [uchile.cl]

Re:Yeah, because that what we need. (1)

telstar (236404) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778480)

Consider it a rare opportunity to see what happens beyond the walls of your parents' basement.

Re:Yeah, because that what we need. (0, Troll)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778481)

And they're sharing the PWECIOUS photos on their color iPods now.

When someone shows me a picture of their widdle PWECIOUS baybee, I wonder how tall a building over which I could drop kick the stupid, drooling thing.

I hate happy people. :-(

No problem... (5, Funny)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778411)

I use Microsoft Word to print out all my MP3s, which I then store in a 3-ring binder. If I ever lose my digital copy, I can use text recognition to restore my MP3s from the paper backup.

Let's just hope there isn't a fire or a flood.

what's the archival life of digital photo paper? (1)

aunchaki (94514) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778415)

What's the quality of photo-printer paper compared to traditional photo paper? I've got old snapshots and such from sixty years ago, but will printed digital photos last that long?

Re:what's the archival life of digital photo paper (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778540)

If you're sending your prints to a service bureau that uses a LightJet or other system to print on Fuji Crystal archival, or Kodak's equivalent, you're comparing apples to apples. They're silver halide photo papers, but the service uses a digital process to render light onto the photo paper instead of shining light through a bit of film.

Re:what's the archival life of digital photo paper (1)

zoobaby (583075) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778588)

It depends on manufacturer and how much you are willing to spend on it. HP prints last around 70 years on their latest printers and ink. Cannon has decent life as well. The more spend the better the quality.

Sending your digital prints to a specialty place for development may last longer. I know my family has prints from the early 1900's that still look good.

This is a non-issue (1)

Nintendork (411169) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778416)

You can still buy record players and any old piece of hardware. Even if 1,000 years passed and we needed to revive information from ancient media, we could at the very least easily manufacture a player to retrieve the data. Hell, in 1,000 years, we'll probably have some type of scanning device that requires no physical contact and can read data from all known formats. This is all assuming a media is lost for 1,000 years. The truth is that when it's digital, data can be easily transferred from an old medium to a new one and for most people, this is a non-issue. Even if they are allergic to computers, everyone knows someone that can do this for them or can pay for a shop to do it for them.

-Lucas

Re:This is a non-issue (1)

56uSquareWave (726317) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778515)

I think the point was that although there maybe technology that will be able to read the media, the media may well have lost its capacity to store the data. CDs fade, and if all you have is a really retro cup matt, then all you have is that, no data. Even though you could build the device to read it if it was new.

Re:This is a non-issue (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778545)

Don't be so sure... I don't remember if it was the LoC, BBC, PBS, or who (was some big archive, tho) who had this pile of old media that they had a hell of a time finding anything to read.

Got data on a 5" floppy? Okay, there are still a few machines around (old ones to be sure) that have 5" floppy drives. But how about an 8" floppy? What? You never heard of 8" floppies? Oh well... have fun getting data off that disk.

The question of forensics (1)

robogun (466062) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778575)

Why is it these articles come out every 2-3 weeks, other than to cause panic.

Also every 2-3 weeks, we hear how how forensic techniques make it impossible to destroy data once it has been recorded -- also to cause panic.

I remember one that suggested the only way to truly destroy digital data so it couldn;'t be recovered was to break the hard drive into pieces with a sledge, and then heat the remains in a cauldron until the glass platters melted.

So which is it? Is data easily destroyed or is it not?

Formats (5, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778424)

Digital content could be "refreshed", just copying it to newer, bigger, cheaper and with more far on time expiration date each time (i.e. when i bought my cd burner, made a backup of my old diskette-based info there).

But the main problem is not the "end of life" of media used for storage, is the format in which the information is. In 50 years, will be an application that opens/process that information? One of the advantage of having information in open formats is that in the worst case, you can have all the information to be able to process them. But if you stored your information using an applicaiton with its own propietary/closed format, and the company just decided to not support that format anymore, or just closed, you could have lost your information, even if the media where it is stored still retains it well.

Meaningless (5, Funny)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778431)

How many of your digital memories will still be around 50 years from now/

Who gives a shit? I'm 39, and too mentally ill to attract a wife, so no kids. What am I going to leave behind? A collection of snotty and angry online postings? I just want to retire early and pursue my long denied hobby of global agitation.

And why doesn't the posting preview here work reliably with Firefox?

Perserving Electonic Data is oposit of Paper Data (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778439)

Phisical Data such as paper, stone, ... will demish the more that it is handled and there is often some loss when it is copied, but you can keep it in a safe box for hundreds if not thousands of years. Digital Data is the oposit, In order for electronic digital data to survive it needs to be moved around and each copy is the same as it was before. That is why the music indrustry hates MP3 way more then copying Tapes. With MP3 each copy is as good as the first. With tapes they can only be copy only a fiew times before the quality gets really bad. And there is only a limit on how many times the master tape can be played. But Data just as long as it is moving it is more protected.

isnt it lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778442)

that paper last for ever

Thats what the usenet is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778446)

You'll never lose those precious "home videos" or special "holiday snapshots" of you and the missus...just upload them to usenet and they'll be reposted for decades to come.

I'm pretty sure that if Paris ever loses her old video to CD-rot, she can just wait for the next month's repost.

gee, nice ads on that link to Peter Briggs ... (5, Insightful)

contrapuntalmindset (697143) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778450)

The link ( http://www.boingboing.net/2004/11/06/alien_v_preda tor_scr.html ) to the info on Peter Briggs has porn ads, for those to whom it matters. Couldn't you have warned us?

Don't worry about it... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778464)

...the way this world is going, Microsoft will own you and all your data in 50 years so they will keep your data safe for you...

...just sign on the dotted line and fill in your credit card number.

Holy Advertising Batman (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778476)

This just smells like some not so cleverly planted ad.

I'll respond none the less... So far, I've managed to keep a good portion of my important information (writings, documents, pictures) that I want to keep around for a very long time.

While most of our pictures are slowly degrading over time. Data I've had for the last 10 years is still pretty much the same.

If its important, store it in more then one place...

Article kinda misses the real point.... (1)

TrentL (761772) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778478)

The real issue here isn't physically storing data. The issue is, will anyone know WTF a JPEG is in 50 years, and how to read one? Or a Visio Diagram? Or a .xyz file? I was surprised at how little the article talked about the National Archives initiative to solve this very problem.

I fail to see a (consumer) problem here. (1)

bsmoor01 (150458) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778494)

It's not like storage instantly changes formats. I have files from years back, even though I've changed hard drives many times. Just because I used to store things on 720k 3.5" floppies doesn't mean all those files are gone now (I don't own a floppy drive). When I got a new computer with a (then) gigantic 80 MB hard drive, I simply copied the floppies to my hard drive. This happens every time I upgrade. When I switch to mac from x86/winxp a little over a year ago, I brought my files with me then.

All this talk of digital obsolescence seems a little to chicken little to me. Practically, for most folks, this should not be a problem. Chances are, your next computer will be able to read mediea from 1 generation back. If you get so out of touch that you cannot copy the files, its your fault.

-Seth

Physical photographs aren't a good solution (1)

goatpunch (668594) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778513)

The only real way to make sure that your grandkids get to see your digital photos is to make real photographic prints from them.

This isn't really true- people use their grandparents photographs as an example, but their grandparents photographs were black and white prints on high quality acid-free paper. Colour negatives also start to deteriorate within a few years.

Unless you're using very high paper it's chances of being guaranteed for more than 30 years are low.

Choose your file formats wisely... (1)

oddwick11 (446434) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778516)

Moving information to new media is relatively easy, the real trouble will come with obsolete file formats. The best way around this is to archive your images in formats that are likely to be supported for the rest of time. Got images? Jpeg's are going to be around forever. Got a novel? Straight text or HTML will be around forever.

Dont save things in proprietary formats, especially from small companies. I would even hesitate saving important images as PSD's, or at the very least, save a couple versions of important files.

Depending on what you are doing, there are easy way to batch convert files.

Great Topic - Long Overdue (1)

bushboy (112290) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778520)

Obvious - get your digital shots you cherish printed onto long lasting material.

The kind of quality that could last 500 years !

DOH

Labels even more important (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778521)

Assuming that your great-grandchildren are going to be interested your vacation pictures fifty years from now (snigger), it is more important to make sure that the pictures are labeled or otherwise documented somehow (Anyone know who that is? I think it's your great-aunt Katherine, or is it Sue. When was that taken..?).

IN SOVIET RUSSIA... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778525)

...bit rot stalks YOU!

Hello? Emulators? (1)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778539)

It seems the predominant argument in both linked "articles" is "I wrote my old stuff on an amstrad and can't get the info off the disks".....hmmm they look like normal 3.5" floppies.

Googling for amstrad emulator brings up several thousand links. Sounds like another perfectly viable reason to release obsolete OS'es and CMOS designs to the public domain. Aside from wholly altruistic reasons, there might be some good money in it.

Of course, I am not an Amstrad expert and for all I know they could have winchester drives in them..

The submitter lets his mother run windows! (1)

mattkime (8466) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778552)

The submitter lets his mother run windows!

Really, what kind of son are you??

Kodak FUD?| (5, Insightful)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778554)

Sounds like FUD put out by Kodak, or maybe Epson, and not "news".

Photos, slides and negatives don't last forever, just one look at the slides my Dad had in his house in Hawaii will illustrate that. But moving them to a new form of media is a lot more cumbersome moving 5 CD-Rs to a single DVD.

"Printing" is a bad way to save a picture, inkjet printouts degrade faster than true photos. You'd need to output to a real photo to get the same lifespan as a photo. Oh, and if you do, keep the digital copy, it's going to be better than a scan of the photo that's been sitting on the mantel.

Are there many consumers out there with more than 120GB of family digital photos? A spare hard drive is cheap these days as an additional place to store a copy.

Want to have your photos at home as well as somewhere safe in case of fire? It would be pricy to made dupes of all your slides or photos, but a second set of CDs pretty cheap.

There might be people who saved digital photos on floppys ( like those who got the cheesy Sony floppy cam ), but that media is not opsolete yet and for $20 you can have a USB floppy drive to let you move them to a CD.

Old media meant that the cost of the dupe was pretty much the same cost of the original. This doesn't lend itself to redundant copies at multiple locations for most people. Digital lends itself to duplication, just ask any movie pirate.

There are films from the 20's that are lost forever. Thanks to DVD pirates, we have enough redundant copies of Star Wars that it will never be gone.

If we want things to last forever... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10778564)

...we better stop using matter-based storage. Apparently, protons fade in sunlight and may have limited lifespan with no implied warranty! And no galactic best buys exist to extend it.

Gradual Transitions (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778571)

As time goes on, storage space increases exponentially. As I upgrade my disks as time goes by, it's possible to have all of my data to hand (as well as archived). For example, before CD-R, I had over 100 1.44MB floppy disks. I had a 1.2GB disk drive. Now I have CD-Rs a plenty and 280GB of disks in my PeeCee, and in a year's time I expect that to grow to 1000 gigabytes (1 terabyte). All this time, my machines are networked and use Open protocols to communicate. I have 10 megabit and 100 megabit NICs. When I have a spare few pounds, I'll get gigabit. I have broadband.

As time goes on, space increases, bandwidth increases, etc. The data gradually migrates from one to the other.

Who cares if my CD-Rs are knackered in 20 years time? It'll all be on a tiny corner of a hard disk or equivalent, on the network, in Open file formats....

The case for parity archiving? (2, Interesting)

DamienMcKenna (181101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10778574)

Does this make the case for parity archiving [sourceforge.net] ?

Damien
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