Saturday, 28 June 2008

Keep Your Data for 200 Years - Why?

Courtesy of The Register, I followed their link to a company called Delkin (the data Belkin?) who are touting their premium Blu-Ray disks (BD-R) with a lifetime of 200 years (and 100 years for their DVD-R disks).

Now, this all sounds wonderful; a "guaranteed protection over time" (whatever that means) for your "wedding photos, tax documents etc". The trouble is, and we've been down this road before, having media that survives 200 years is great, but (a) what's going to be around to read it and (b) will the data format still be understandable by the latest software?

Attacking the first, it is conceivable that Blu-Ray compatible drives will be around in 10-20 years' time. After all, we can still read CD-ROMs 20 years after they were introduced and Blu-Ray is already a mass-marked storage platform, not just for data, but for media content too. However, 200 years is a bit hopeful. The 20 years since the introduction of the CD format has seen DVD, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD (!) plus countless other solid state formats.

Data format is more of an issue. I discussed this issue in a recent post.

Another great example of hardware and data compatibility issues can be seen with the BBC's Domesday Project, which used Laserdiscs and non-standard graphical images for displaying information. What's to say that in 50 years time we won't think JPEG just as archaic?

So, don't waste your money on $27 BD-R disks. Buy them cheap, keep multiple copies and refresh your data regularly.

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