Re: Preservation (was Organization) of freight car info

Tim O'Connor

Dave Eggleston wrote

My advice remains to plan to make copies every 5 years.
I will make a bet: CD's as they exist now, will be totally
unreadable in 100 years, much less 300. That's because no
hardware or software will exist for them. Heaven only knows
what mass storage will look like 50 years from now.

This topic keeps coming up and I don't want to belabor it,
but I've said it before: the best archival storage available
now and for the future is a hard disk. Why? Because the cost
per GB is competitive with CD-ROM and DVD, it is far more
compact (no shelf storage problems), it's available all of
the time, and the cost per GB trend is sharply downwards,
about 50% per year. Admittedly, I am excluding storage of
say, 100 MB super-high res scans of photos. But a 160 GB
drive holds about 40,000 4 MB scan files which are of a
sufficient size for printing high quality images on paper,
if needed. And if you use a USB or Firewire hard drive, it
is completely portable and transportable and works with any
PC or Mac made in the last 10 years.

When you shop for hard drives, always look at the MTBF
(mean time between failure) specification. Lower speed
devices (5400RPM) often have dramatically higher MTBF than
high speed devices (up to 15000RPM). You can additionally
reduce risk by buying RAID-1 consumer devices, or doing
your own periodic backups to a secondary device.

The only CHORE in this scheme is that every 5-10 years when
you replace your PC or Mac (necessary because companies will
ALWAYS continue to discontinue support for old hardware and
software) you have to copy your files (en masse) to the new
hard drive -- about 5 minutes of effort!

And I am not dismissing paper, negatives, slides etc either.
I'm just talking about preservation of digital information.
I've heard folks saying that slides and prints degrade, and
I have certainly noticed this in my own collection lately,
especially anything in color.

Tim O'Connor

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