Monday, September 25, 2006

Will your data, and deathless prose, last forever?

Leland Meitzler at the Everton Publishers Genealogy Blog pointed to an article written by Charles Piller of the Los Angeles Times, published on Sunday, titled "Going Digital Doesn't Mean Forever." It ran chills down my back.

The article is here in Delaware Online, among other places.

The money quotes include:

Walker's digital amnesia has become a frustratingly common part of life. Computers make storing personal letters, family pictures and home movies more convenient than ever. But those captured moments can disappear with a few errant mouse clicks -- or for no apparent reason at all.

It's not just household memories at risk. Professional archivists, those charged with preserving society's details, tell a grim joke: Billions of digitized snapshots, Hollywood movies and government annals, they say, "will last forever, or five years, whichever comes first."

Digital storage methods, although vastly more capacious than the paper they are rapidly replacing, have proved fallible. Heat and humidity can destroy computer disks and tapes in as little as a year. Computers can break down and software becomes unusable in a few years. A storage format can quickly become obsolete, making the information it holds effectively inaccessible.

Read the whole thing.

It is so true...and it can happen to any of us on a moments notice. I was reminded of that this weekend with my computer problems.

I wrote this several months ago about my personal disaster recovery plan. It's time for me to go and make sure I've done everything I want to do.

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