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How Long Do You Want Digital Media To Last?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the until-1-day-before-I-need-it dept.

Data Storage 398

spamfiltertest writes "CNET asks 'Would you like your digital-storage media to last 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 35 years or 40 years?' If you're an organization or government agency, the U.S. government and an optical-disc industry group would like you to answer that question in a quick survey. I would think that we would like our data to last forever, but maybe it's just me."

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oskala (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091042)

oksala

I'll take the survey in a bit, but... (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091048)

Would you like your digital-storage media to last 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 35 years or 40 years?
If you're an organization or government agency, the U.S. government and an optical-disc industry group would like you to answer that question in a quick survey.


I work in the records department of a two year tech college. We use document imaging hardware and software to store student files on WORM optical media permanently and then we destroy the physical paper files over time.

We expect that our digital media will far outlast what we have on other permanent storage mediums, such as microfiche, which go back to 1972. If the "antiquated" microfiche can hold up that long why not our records stored on the digital media?

We realize that no storage method is 100% foolproof (i.e. you can misfile microfiche, lose physical files, misplace pages, etc) but we have put a lot of faith into the setup we currently have. If time has a negative effect on both the originals and backups we could find ourselves reverting to tried and true methods used in years past.

It's mildly humorous to me that long term data integrity (i.e. "forever") is never mentioned when companies present you with all the benefits of a digital setup. The benefits of the system are great (such as easy access to student information at various sites without any reproduction necessary, security features, etc) but will our microfiche outlast our digital media? I may never know but currently, based on recent discussions about the degradation of digital media over time, it appears that it may.

I feel sorry for the poor bastards that would have to go back to storing and reproducing everything to and from microfiche if and when we find out that digital media might not have the necessary longevity we require.

Re:I'll take the survey in a bit, but... (5, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091196)

Why would you assume digital media is necessarily going to last longer than older media?

The trend is not for newer storage methods to outlast older ones by any stretch of the imagination.

Stone inscriptions, stored reasonably well, will last quite a long time. Books printed with appropriate inks and stored well will also last ages. Comparing to those, "antiquated" media like microfiche will be useless much earlier.

From what I recall, we use newer media forms not because they last longer but because they're more convenient. You can store information much more densely on a DVD than you can on microfiche, which is in turn a more dense storage form than paper, which was a big improvement over marble and clay tablets.

If you really want longevity you should take your microfiche and cut the words into sheets of gold.

Re:I'll take the survey in a bit, but... (3, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091368)

I agree.

For me, I treat digital media like traditional media - particularly books.

While the digital media maybe flimsy, there is no reasonable reason why the information therein should _not_ survive for more than 40 years.

At the very least, one can be sure that it would have historical significance. And I'm fairly certain that I would be alive 40+ years from now, which would merit the necessity for me having the media, or atleast the information therein. While the information may eventually become irrelevant, it would at the very least have posterity value.

Digital information is no different from a library of books - it's just stored digitally. I do expect my books to last as long as possible (hell, books have lasted centuries, if not more). Then why should it be any different for other media?

When life give you lemons... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091238)

Real colleges post their records to teh intarweb and let a million identity scammers do the backup for them!

Re:I'll take the survey in a bit, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091279)

I haven't read the survey, but I think that the question may be taken out of context here. We all know that digital media last "forever". But sometimes we don't really need data to last that long. While Ill say yes to wanting my Counting Crows CD rip lasting forever, I would not say want my tax, voting, or say IP information stored "forever". If we kept everything forever, we will quickly run out of physcial and digital storage space.

So, the question is valid to what it is asking. Answering "forever" doesn't really help anyone with this survey.

Re:I'll take the survey in a bit, but... (2, Interesting)

wolenczak (517857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091290)

You can always upgrade/copy/replace your digital media as opposed to regular paper files. Say your DVD's have a life of 20years, well, in 15 years you can copy a bunch DVD's into the new media and keep upgrading constantly.

A short History of written media (5, Interesting)

jimbro2k (800351) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091324)

Stone - lasts about a million years. Clay - 100 years - (10,000 years if burned!!) Parchment/Vellum - 1000 years unless eaten by bugs. Papyrus/Paper - 500 years, MUCH longer if kept dry. Acidic Paper - 100 years or less. Notice the trend - it is NOT toward longer-lived media. Volitility seems to trump Archivability every time, and possibly for different reasons in each age.

Re:I'll take the survey in a bit, but... (1)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091330)

I feel sorry for the poor bastards that would have to go back to storing and reproducing everything to and from microfiche if and when we find out that digital media might not have the necessary longevity we require.

I feel sorry for our society and culture when I think of how much information and content is now only available digitally. Don't get me wrong, digital is good: it provides quick access, easy searching, etc. However, It is still new technology (especially with the constant advances in material science) and we don't really understand how it will last over the long haul. Look at the recent push to move to acid-free paper for archival of books and journals. I think that for the longhaul, we should continue to archive in tried and true (microfiche is a good example) media.

Not always forever (2, Interesting)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091049)

I would think that we would like our data to last forever, but maybe it's just me.

My company recently started deleting our email after 90 days. One of the reasons I heard was to protect us in lawsuits.

Re:Not always forever (3, Funny)

me at werk (836328) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091092)

You work for Diebold [eff.org] ?

Re:Not always forever (1)

mobiux (118006) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091115)

That's a little different situation.
That's records management, and yeah, it's best to delete stuff after a period of time. Business wise.

As a home user though, I want my backup cd's and dvd's to be there until I get rid of them.
I don't want to have my digital photo albums start decaying after 10 years.
I have some already at 6 years old.

Re:Not always forever (2, Interesting)

Rosyna (80334) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091364)

One of the reasons I heard was to protect us in lawsuits.

Which is often the reason. I imagine the government cares because there is a statute of limitations on how long information can remain classified. So if the physical media the records are kept on expires before the statute of limitations comes into affect, there is no records for them to release.

But lawsuits are a huge reason, as you said, when computer records are involved. You keep everything that could incriminate you on age sensitive media and backup everything you can use to defend yourself or sue others for on different media before it "expires".

Forever (2, Funny)

The Slashdot Guy (793685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091050)

Any other questions?

Last forever (2, Funny)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091052)

Yeah, I'd like my digital media to last forever.

While they're at it, can they make my car run forever? I also want to stay young forever, if that's not too much trouble.

53.3 Years (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091229)

53.3 years... because 640 months should be enough for anyone.

Re:Last forever (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091406)

When God was designing the human being, he was faced with the same set of tradeoffs that face designers everywhere. He could design around the tradeoffs better than anyone else, of course, since he made the universe with those rules in the first place.

You can choose from good, fast, or cheap. God was under both time and budget pressures, because there were 7 days allocated for the project, and he had already used up 5 of them. If he was to get a day off, 'fast' had to be one of the compromises.

So, he had to choose from good and cheap for the other compromise. I don't know if you have ever looked through a telescope, but those ornaments were really expensive. The budget was blown back on day one, and everything else had to be scaled down a bit. So, cheap was the other compromise.

And that is why I think that human life is fast and cheap, but not typically as good as we'd like.

Make it.. (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091053)

Make it last as long as possible. Any media set to self destruct after a set date is no use to anyone. Make the best you can and keep inproving it.

Re:Make it.. (3, Insightful)

avandesande (143899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091262)

Obviously there is a cost/benfit balance here...

if you want you could probably etch your data on a block of gold, but what would that cost?

Re:Make it.. (2, Interesting)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091289)

Make it last as long as possible. Any media set to self destruct after a set date is no use to anyone. Make the best you can and keep inproving it.

I think the whole reason for the survey is that it's not cost-feasible to make long-lasting media, and that the efforts to drive prices ever-lower will also product media of lower quality. If you want long lasting media, you're going to have to pay for it. Personally, I'd be OK if they made two (or more) different grades. I don't need most of my computer files to last longer than 7 years, but I'd want my photos and videos to at least survive me. Hopefully, technology will one day allow me to achieve that goal without intentionally stepping off the curb in front of a moving vehicle.

Re:Make it.. (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091328)

Well, there is a cost/benefit analysis here. Media that lasts longer will probably cost you more. Do you want to pay that cost? For example, childhood photos are something most people want to keep for a very, very long time, but the production reports of ConGyps Co's Colorado factory for the month of May 1987 probably aren't anything that people 100 years from now would have any sort of interest in. Should they have to pay extra for longevity you want for your photos though?

The real limitation here (2, Interesting)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091396)

In my experience, the real limitation in terms of data storage isn't the media so much as it is the hardware.

When is the last time you saw a 5.25" disk drive? How easy is it to find a Jaz drive these days? WORM reader? Something that will read your old files stored on analog cassette tape? I could go on naming defunct storage media solutions for half the day.

The only real solution for long-term storage is to keep the files "live" on a system someplace. Under and other arrangement even if the *media* the bits are stored on doesn't go bad, there's a pretty good chance that the hardware to read that media will go the way of the dodo when you're not looking.

So, once again, good planning and systems administration proves to be the answer. Set up a reliable system in a RAID mirroring setup and cut backups on a regular basis.

This became a major concern to me once I switched over to all digital photography. I have a Linux fileserver running a RAID-1 setup that serves up all my important files. Once a month, I cut three sets of backups to DVD -- one gets stuck a CD tower in my apartment, one gets taken to work and the other one goes to a storage area I have (I figure if anything ever happens to take out all three at once, losing my data will be the least of my worries). I'm up to four DVD's to back up all my data now, thanks mostly to digital photos.

It's important to be able to rely on your media over a fairly reasonable term, but in any long-term situation live filesystems are the only way to fly.

Secrets? (4, Funny)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091055)

Sometimes I think it would be great to have optical storage last forever. But then I think about my grandchildren going through my CDs years from now and stumbling on all my porn. Hmm... not good.

Re:Secrets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091096)

Well.... not everyone is Bob Crane I guess.

Maybe Not Forever (3, Funny)

GweiLeong (846704) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091057)

Ya I really want my grandkids finding the 60 year old pr0n pix/vidz of grandma the day before we go into the home.

Re:Maybe Not Forever (-1, Redundant)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091107)

Oh my god, this is SOOO redundant! Read the comment above yours! :

Re:Maybe Not Forever (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091230)

Not exactly redundant.
They were posted damn near the same time.
Plus yours wasn't all that funny

Re:Maybe Not Forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091270)

You're right... his was better.

Re:Maybe Not Forever (3, Funny)

hesiod (111176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091265)

Read the times of the posts. THEY WERE POSTED THE SAME FUCKING MINUTE! So he couldn't read it.

Re:Maybe Not Forever (1)

DrScotsman (857078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091144)

You have pr0n of your grandma!? I'd delete that NOW let alone wait for your kids to see it.

How before Linux has to reboot? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091064)

There is a nasty bug in Linux that makes the computer reboot every 49.7 days. The worst part is that this bug has been around for almost 10 years...

What good is a million eyes looking at the code if they are attached to half a million idiots?

I guess most people don't realize this because they need to recompile their kernel every other week, or they use Linux only to boot into illegal copies of Windows.

Re:How before Linux has to reboot? (1)

takis (14451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091335)

Strange, my tiny PentiumMMX 32MB RAM server is still running, ignoring "the nasty reboot bug" which has been in there for 10 years...

takis@eros:~$ uptime
20:55:12 up 64 days, 36 min, 1 user, load average: 0.00, 0.01, 0.00

takis@eros:~$ uname -a
Linux eros 2.6.9-ac12-eros #2 Thu Dec 9 01:49:39 CET 2004 i586 unknown

And our student server seems to be running fine, ignoring that "reboot bug":

-(~)> uptime
8:56pm up 74 days, 5:07, 2 users, load average: 1.12, 0.70, 0.66
-(~)> uname -a
Linux lumumba 2.4.29-rc1 #1 Sat Jan 15 14:32:12 CET 2005 i686 unknown

Sure, I should have ignored your flamebait...

forever, but... (5, Insightful)

sum.zero (807087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091065)

i want it locked up in some archaic and obsolete drm so that i can't get at it anyway.

sum.zero

Re:forever, but... (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091210)

Nah that's not going to happen. Before your DRM last a year, some corporation would have changed it 3x and make them all incompatible.

"archaic" "obsolete" [n/t] (1)

sum.zero (807087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091349)

this text is not here.

sum.zero

boo (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091069)

boo

Longer than CowboyMeal wears his underwear (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091072)

fat, unclean, socially inept, sexless, slob that he is

I want media tied to my vital functions (4, Funny)

ites (600337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091073)

So that the media will destruct at the moment I die. This will save my heirs from a lot of unnecessary work and embarrasment.

Re:I want media tied to my vital functions (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091139)

I think the bastard offspring of a human and goat will have more to be embarrassed about than the digital images you kept of their conception.

(It's a joke, not a troll. I promise!)

Until the feds break down your door? (1)

ZipR (584654) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091075)

Or until my music goes out of style?

Do I not understand the question correctly? (2, Interesting)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091081)

...are they asking how long I want the rights to use it? Or how long the file should retain its integrity? Or ... something else? I guess the intent of the question is irrelevent. In all those cases, if I paid for it I expect it to last at least as long as I do.

20 Seconds (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091087)

Destroy all media!

Seriously fags, what the hell is wrong with you that you want your collection of shitty quality pirated movies to last you your lifetime? Even your family photos will decrease in value over time. I mean, how am I supposed to keep jerking off to the same old pictures?

My prediction: (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091315)

In 100 years, the only archival footage available to historians will be pirated copies of films. We all know Hollywood was already letting films rot in the vaults before they got all paranoid about the scourage of perfect digital copies.

does it matter? (5, Insightful)

kevinx (790831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091088)

In 25 - 30 years, the data on that disk probably won't be readable by the current software available. Just like that 8-track that you will never find a car to use in. To keep your data current you'd have to convert and rearchieve every so many years.

Re:does it matter? (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091254)

Well, there are companies that will transfer your old 8 tracks onto CD. Some of them will even recover audio from your grandpa's old wire spool recordings. That's an audio technology so old I doubt one slashdot reader in a thousand has even seen one. It was obsoleted by the tape cassette in 1963.

I think we'll see CD media be readable by the consumer for at least ten or fifteen years. The consumer will probably be able to get a CD/DVD reader if he so desires for ten or fifteen years after that -- after all CD and DVD are popular formats, unlike 8 track which was never very successful.

After that, I'm sure there will be companies that will be able to read your old optical media into the quantum dust specks or whatever they'll be using in fifty years. If your CD-Rs last that long -- which they probably won't unless you are very careful about storing them.

Re:does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091291)


Jpegs are over 15 years old. They show no signs of slowing down in the amount of use that they will see.

MPEGs are a similar age. VCDs are nearly 13 years old, and we're still seeing VCD players coming out on the market.

CDs are ALREADY 30 years old, and we still have "current software available" to read them.

Re:does it matter? (1)

sanermind (512885) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091296)

Well, I doubt you're right about software. I'm sure there will be emulators available. The question will be whether there is any currently available hardware that will be able to read the ancient disks. An old dvdr probably won't fit into the slot of your standard 2.5 exabyte holocube reader.

Flat text files (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091341)

... had better be readable in 25 years by the software that exists then. If for no other reason, because so much of UNIX is based on text files.

Now, the text files of 25 years from now may well not use 8-bit characters (think Unicode here). So current text files may in fact not be directly readable by the current software in 25 years (though I would bet that there will be some software in 25 years that still has an "import old 8-bit files" option, again on UNIX/Linux if nowhere else).

HTML will almost certainly still be readable. Doc format? Forget it.

Hmm, I think I see a pattern here. Open formats survive longer than closed ones.

forever (1)

bob zee (701656) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091093)

I think 25 years is a good, round figure.

pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091098)

As long as my addiction to pr0n...

Life span for government (1)

raider_red (156642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091101)

I don't want any data storage that lasts past the statute of limitations. Of course, at that point, it probably doesn't matter anymore.

It should last forever (1)

ebh (116526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091106)

If it lasts forever, we still have the option of destroying the media if we're only supposed to keep it for a finite amount of time.

What we really need is fireproof paper.

5 minutes (0)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091108)

5 minutes. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Why depend on physical media (3, Interesting)

PxM (855264) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091109)

Wouldn't it be better to switch to a RAID style hard drive system? As long as the data can be transferred quickly (no CD swapping) I don't need the hardware to last for decades if I can move the data over to another system without a problem before it fails. The whole point of digital data is so that it can be replicated and transfered rather than for the hardware to last forever. In the future, we could just have multiple personal petabyte data archives in various places that store all of our personal information where the physical system isn't such a big deal because bandwith makes it easy to move the data to my PDA or to my bank's digital data vault.

--
Or try a free Nintendo DS, GC, PS2, Xbox. [freegamingsystems.com] (you only need 4 referrals)
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

Re:Why depend on physical media (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091243)

As long as the data can be transferred quickly (no CD swapping) I don't need the hardware to last for decades if I can move the data over to another system without a problem before it fails. The whole point of digital data is so that it can be replicated and transfered rather than for the hardware to last forever.

The whole point of storing data on WORM media is to prove that the data remained unaltered during storage.

You want to be able to have an audit trail that shows any modifications (timestamps included) to the records. You also want to make sure that images that were stored were unaltered ("photoshopped"). You want to make sure that an exact copy of the information was stored and remains exact for the life of the media.

If it's not stored on write once media then that can't be guaranteed.

I Want A Known Quantity (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091112)

I want the MTTF to be a known quantity. If the CDs (soon to be DVDs) that I store my family pictures and videos on has limited lifetime, I'd like to know what it is so that I can refresh the media to avoid losing data.

The length of time isn't terribly important, as long as it doesn't make the cost of new media too high (e.g. DVDs aren't too expensive, so if I have to reburn them every five years or move to the next media format at that point, that is a good use of money and time).

But don't forget ... (-1, Offtopic)

Potatomasher (798018) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091117)

Don't all go there at once though ;)

Re:But don't forget ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091223)

2 Late it's already /.ted

100+ years (4, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091147)

The company I work for uses USGS data going back to about 1900. It is interesting to think that data collected 100+ years ago may outlive data currently being gathered....

As long as needed. (2, Insightful)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091149)

It must at least last until you are sure you don't need the data anymore.

How long? (3, Funny)

genjo (810561) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091150)

At least until the FBI gives my servers back to me. They DO give them back, right?

Why not for centuries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091152)

It seems rather pathetic that modern, high-tech digital media have a far shorter lifetime than good old paper. There are many files (e.g. historical data, classics of music and literature) that we want to preserve indefinitely. With the current technology, these could easily be lost for all time.

Diamonds are forever...but... (1)

tuxq (703148) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091158)

Forever doesn't mean much to me because I don't plan on living forever--and everything after that I don't really care about :P

So, if my digital media lasts around 80 or so years--awesome...I'll be buried with it... Hey maybe I'll be able to use them wherever it is I'll be going--if anywhere. Think they have fibre for everyone? :D

forever (1)

gamboot (737203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091159)

i want it to last "to infinity and beyond"

Data Archive Services want something different... (4, Funny)

zoomba (227393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091169)

If you're a business that specializes in the massive backup or translation of data from one medium to another, you probably want media to last a few years at most. That way, organizations are constantly coming to them with stores of data that they need re-recorded.

Pretty much the only way to make your media last forever is to have it stored in a solid state (like being etched into the surface of a DVD) and then sealed and stored in a moistureless, airless, lightless temperature controlled environment. But with all the talk about self-destructing DVDs and CDs that the recording industries are trying to push, I don't think even that's possible.

CONVERT ALL YOUR DATA INTO BINARY AND THEN LASER ETCH IT INTO GLASS! THEN SANDWICH IT BETWEEN TWO OTHER LAYERS OF GLASS AND HIDE IT ON A MOUNTAINTOP! YOU MUST SAVE YOUR PR0N COLLECTION FOR ALIENS TO DISCOVER AFTER WE'VE BLOWN OURSELVES TO ATOMS!!

This rant was brought to you by the Reynolds Society for Tin Foil Hats... Remember, only Reynolds Wrap brand tin foil can protect you from the strongest of the alien mind-control rays!

Die with me (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091171)

I want all of my data to die with me. (Except my will [blogspost.com] (living or otherwise). That should stay around a bit longer. Maybe on a floppy.) That way, I will be remembered for what I was eating and wearing when I fell over dead rather than all the inflammatory shit I've written over the years.

Durrrrr (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091202)

Oops, I got the wrong URL in that link. This [blogspot.com] is what I meant.

Paper covers disk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091175)

see, for example, the dead sea scrolls...2,000 years and still read-accessible.

Data != Media (5, Insightful)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091177)

While data is obviously stored on media, talking about the lifetime of data is not the same as talking about the lifetime of media. So, the original poster's "forever" comment is unrelated to the survey he links to.

If you have media that you know won't last over 30 years, just copy it onto new media at the 20-25 year point. In most cases, that's not that big of a deal. Besides, by the time that 20-25 year mark rolls around, it's very likely that you'd want to convert to a faster "online" media anyway, like holographic storage.

Should last a lifetime at least. (1)

code addict (312283) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091181)

In my opinion, digital media like CDs should last AT LEAST a lifetime if not more. So, my feeling is that 100-150 yrs is a reasonable expectation. I mean I've got old reel-to-reel tape recordings (eg. Queen Elizabeth's coronation that was taped off the radio) from around 50 years ago.

The ironic thing is that I was going to "update" it by copying them to CD, but the would actually have a better chance of lasting in there current form than as a CD with it's average 10yr lifespan.

The MEDIA, not the DATA (1)

SmokeHalo (783772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091186)

I would think that we would like our data to last forever, but maybe it's just me.

That's not the point of TFA at all. They're talking about finding ways to basically note the shelf life of the media itself, i.e. the quality of the product.

dvda.org? (1)

mwronski (674652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091187)

What does the pRon watchdog group that manages double oriface insertions have to do with archival media? Or are they just concerned with the preservations of my copy of Orgazmo [imdb.com] ?

"Forever" would be nice, but... (4, Insightful)

BeBoxer (14448) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091191)

I'm not sure it's realistic. One nice thing about digital storage is you can copy it to new media with no loss at all. A book, or painting, or photograph, might last longer (in theory). But when it does wear out it can't be magically duplicated like bits can.

So if you want stuff to last forever, each generation of people needs to convert the old stuff into a new format. But if you are only doing this once a generation, it's not that big of a deal. You could even make it a family tradition, the passing of the old to the new. Assuming of course that you actually care about keeping something 'forever'.

The Darl McBride answer... (1)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091192)

"Very soon, but not less that a week."

"Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain

Longer than the copyright protection (5, Interesting)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091204)

I'd like the media to last at least a few years after the copyright protection expires. Only that way we can legally guarantee that many great works don't disappear alltogether, as the copyright owners keep them in storage, and their media become unusable before enthusiasts can legally get and preserve them for the future. So currently, I'm looking for a roughly 100 years media lifetime.

Re:Longer than the copyright protection (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091250)

Actually, with people living longer, plus the ever extending post mortem limits, baby's first copyrighted digital work could require media longevity of 200 years or more.

I Want My Unborn Grandkids (1)

Doug Dante (22218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091211)

To have all of my digital pictures. 100 years would be nice. Just set a reasonable price and I'll buy it.

Forever??? (1)

hesiod (111176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091232)

I don't know if it's related to the idea that teenagers think they are immortal, but "forever" is a long time. How much of that information will have any value in 40 years?

3.5" floppies took about 2 decades to become obsolete, do they seriously expect this new standard to last 40 years without the need/request to transfer everything to another format?

Longer than... (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091233)

I'd like my media to last longer than it'll take the web site to get slashdotted...whoops, too late.

How long? (2, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091240)

I was going to pontificate about usefulness of data and a bunch of crap like that until I realized how simple the answer to this question really is:

42

Domain (1)

chingador (526943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091249)

Did Orgazmo [imdb.com] come to mind when anybody else saw their domain name ?

25 years? (1)

Godman (767682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091255)

How many /.ers have cds from 25 years ago? That's what I thought. They didn't HAVE CD's 25 years ago (Not like we do today, at any rate)

In 25 years, this will be a moot point. We'll have some insanely big storage medium. Right now, our current technology just has to hold the data for about 5-10 more years, then we can all switch over to the new system.

Case in point: All the old floppies we used to run stuff on are obselete now. I'm sure back then, the people running them hoped that the floppies would last "forever". Who's running 5 1/4 floppies now? They've all switched over.

And now I've RTFA, it seems that this is a point they make in the survey. Just something to keep in mind.

NIST study about CD/DVD Longevity (4, Informative)

karvind (833059) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091256)

Earlier slashdot [slashdot.org] story regarding NIST study about potential lifespan of CD-Rs and DVD-Rs.

microsoft's reply (1)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091263)

Until the next trial

completely irrelevent, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091268)

an optical-disk industry group
you mean the DVD Association... also known as the DVDA... heehee ::snicker::

Re:completely irrelevent, but (1)

urbster1 (871298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091308)

too bad someone beat you to it

Depends on which media! But no archiving (3, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091269)

I expect expensive commercial movie DVDs to last my lifetime. I expect extortionately expensive music CDs to last my grandchildren's lifetime. I expect the backup CDs I burn to last 2 backup cycles, say 3 months.

I will not "archive" materials. If it's important, it stays online, migrated & backed-up. If it's no longer important -- delete. Online (HD) isn't that expensive. Archives can get lost or corrupted. Or readers may no longer be available.

Hmmm, is this ok? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091280)

Is there a way for AC's to opt out of the "Take this servey" portion of /.? Cool, it's news but if those types of postings are ok around here now then does that mean that I can use /. to distribute my efforts to collect marketing data? (Not that I handle marketing but that seems like what is underway here.)

Oh, the group's membership is listed on the left here: http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/gipwog/ [nist.gov]

Tiered costs? (3, Interesting)

startleman (567255) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091297)

I think that the story makes a good point, namely that some Data / Format migration is inevitible.
Therefore, optical storage producers would be smart to offer several "levels" of guaranteed life, and you could purchase based on how long you think you need you need your data to live. e.g. price per unit... 5 years: 1 dollar, 10 years: $1.50, 20 years: $2.00 etc.

I say "forever" (1)

khendron (225184) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091307)

I'll go with the "forever" option, or at least a long long time. Yes, older technologies can be migrated to newer technologies, but that is irrelevent. There is no way today we can make the decision about what will be of interest 1000 years from now. The only way to get the data of today to 1000 years from now is for the storage medium to last 1000 years.

Of course we want our data to last forever... (1)

bradbury (33372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091309)

The preservation of our data is the understory of what it is to be human. No preservation = no humanity. All we are is just "dust in the wind".

Permanent Media (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091312)

... is already available. You only need two components:

1. A punch card reader; and
2. Punch cards made out of that plastic that lasts for a length of time statistically indistinguishable from forever.

Presto! Permanent media.

DVDA.org? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12091316)

DoubleVaginalDoubleAnal.org?

Tape lasts 100 years (2, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091317)

CDs last 3-5 years
Floppies last 4-5 years

The problem isn't storage, it's READING the data stored in an old format. We have many miles of census data stored on punch cards and paper tapes, but don't have the machines to read them anymore - at least not in quantity.

So making it last isn't important - I can still play my records, but it's hard to find needles to play them.

Choice (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091344)

Fast, cheap, good. Pick any two.

are we talking hookers? (0, Offtopic)

sum.zero (807087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091385)

i'll take cheap and good.

sum.zero

Where does the US gov keep its records? (1)

manifoldronin (827401) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091370)

One of these days we would still like to know who on earth killed JFK, you know.

DVDA? (2, Funny)

DaPhoenix (318174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091373)

Why would the porn industry be interested in conducting a survey of the lifetime of digital media?

I say porn industry because its DVDA.org... Double vag... come on, you all watch southpark.

Biodegradable media (1)

KevinDean (855785) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091378)

I think another important issue is the amount of waste generated by throw-away CDs and DVDs. How long do you want the average mix-CD made by Joe Teenager to last? He probably won't be using that thing longer than a year. Biodegradable media [wired.com] may serve the purpose for 90% of optical storage, and more permanent metal/plastic discs could be used for archiving pictures, documents, and the like. Answering the data-life question is important for determining how long biodegradable media should last. Plus, the life of the disc doesn't determine the life of the data. If you have something really important, you can probably spare the time once every 20-25 years to copy it to a new medium before the old one becomes unusable. I'm sure most of us wish that those AOL CDs would biodegrade before they ever made it to our mailboxes and front doors.

Stone tablets (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 9 years ago | (#12091400)

last thousands of years. Paper can last thousands of years. Film? al least a hundred years. Vinyl, so far about 80 or 90 years. It seems that every new medium we come up with has a shorter lifespan than the previous. Doesn't seem right, does it? Digital should last at least as long as vinyl. CD's made of glass and gold are the only materials that can provide suitable durability. Good luck finding a player a thousand years later. Actually the constant changes in technology make digital archiving impractical. You have to re-archive averything to keep up with the tech. You only need daylight to read stone and paper, and you can play your vinyl on a potter's wheel if you have to. Neither requires electricity. That by itself gives it a huge advantage over digital.
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