Friday, January 14, 2011

Archival.

My 20+ year-old color negatives are starting to get a little faded, and I'm not sure if all of my older 5.25" DOS floppies are are still readable, since I don't currently have anything that can read them. My oldest video game CD-ROM may be holding up fine, but I refuse to load Outpost just to find out.

Meanwhile:
"When I did open it up and look[ed] at the title page and saw the roman numerals at the bottom. . . I kept coming up with 1670. I concluded whatever that is I've got it added up wrong," said Rev. Shoup.
Well, it's not "carved in stone" or even a baked clay tablet, but it's still not half-bad...

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I stuck with film longer than most because of longevity issues. Now that it's nearly impossible to get film developed traditionally, I have switched to digital. Local places develop neg, scan neg, and print on photo paper with colored LEDs, aka lightjet or something like that.

To placate my fears of data loss, I have a rather complex backup routine. I have a script that backs up my data to the 2nd internal drive, then another script that backs up to my Linux server at home (all managed by the Win7 task scheduler). On the Linux box, an rsync script automagically pushes the most important stuff to a headless server I placed at a friend's house (we both have FIOS). It's overkill, but after nearly losing some of my computer gear in a poorly executed break-in, I wanted an offsite backup to complement my home-based storage.

That doesn't take care of data obsolescence, but at least I don't have to worry as much about the media.

Chris

Robert said...

I actually got my money back for Outpost, which had a lot of bugs, and features that were advertised as being in the game but were not there. I sent the disk back to the company (Sierra?) and a letter, and received a check in the mail for the full purchase price.

I doubt that will ever happen again.

Blackwing1 said...

When I bought my new laptop I made sure to also buy a USB-cabled external floppy drive for all those 1.0MB and 1.44MB, 3-1/4" floppy disks. I had lots of nifty little programs (mostly engineering stuff) on them you can't find anymore, and they don't suffer from today's software bloat.

But it did make me wonder about how long digital storage will still be available in today's formats. Are the CD-ROM's I currently burn as backup going to be as useless as the old 5-1/4" floppies?

I've got to get moving on my project to stream all of my LP's to CD before CD's are obsolete...

Nowayoutbutup said...

The 2nd comment by some goober,
" aslmost as old as the United States itself."
Think he missed a couple of history classes?

Joanna said...

Working at the library when I was in college, I once found a book dated 1620. It was just sitting out on the shelf, jumbled in with everything else. It didn't look, feel or smell like a later reprint. I still wonder why we weren't issued gloves when we did reshelving; we had whole shelves in the western lit section that dated from the 1820s and earlier.

Anonymous said...

I have a dual drive just for floppies, 3.25" and 5.5".
No, its not mounted right now because all of the *.wad files I have on 5.5" and 3.25" really weren't that interesting back then.

All I can say about your fading slides is to keep them in a relatively air and moisture proof container and have them scanned at the highest resolution you can before they get really bad.

Some of the one's I have from the 50's are still remarkably sharp and with a little work with PShop look true to life.

Gmac

Anonymous said...

Joanna, when I was in college, I worked in the library and was actually tasked with cateloging a collection donated by a former student. Some of those books dated to the 1800s (boring geological survey data). You would cry if you knew how they were being stored.

markm said...

Around 1998, I transferred over 100 5.25" floppies, containing the older archives from my employer's engineering department, to a server and then to CD. The 8-12 year old ones had a few unreadable files. The newer ones all read just fine. So floppies start losing bits at about 10 years old. Either the magnetism fades or the magnetic coating is breaking up into dust. Tapes are said to have the same problem, only worse; I have no experience with long-term storage of data tapes, but the VHS collection is reaching the point where it doesn't matter if we've still got a player. Also, if you don't wind through the tape once a year or so, it can become too brittle to read.

**Properly stored** write-once CD's were supposed to have 10 to 100 year data life times, depending on the quality and dye technology. I haven't heard specifications for DVD's, but I doubt they'll decay any faster.

For long-term digital storage, don't trust servers alone. Besides hard drive crashes, anything on-line is at risk from viruses, errant software, and accidental deletion or changes. If it's important to keep data, I'll burn it to CD or DVD (depending on file size). Make two copies, stored separately. Then every 3 years make new copies in the newest and best technology available.

This still leaves one other problem: will there be software to open the files? Plain ASCII is by far the longest lived format now, and will probably outlive every other format in current use, but it's only good for a few things. OTOH, these include most of the *really* important things: books, your family history, and financial and tax records.

If you want your family pictures to outlive you, hard copies won't do and I wouldn't trust JPEG to be around forever. Keep track of fashions in file formats and convert to newer formats every so often.

Kristopher said...

Blackwing1:

Paint the tops of the CDs with clear acrylic.

The aluminum can start rusting on old unpainted CDs.

As for device obsolescence, I can't help you there.

Brian said...

I booted up my copy of Mail Order Monsters on my Atari 800XL about two years ago and it ran fine.
That was some tasty nostalgia right there.

George in AZ said...

AH, YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPERS!
I gave up on my Timex-Sinclair
(expanded from 2K to 16K!), when Computer Shopper stopped printing
'The Timex-Sinclair Survival Column', back in the late 80's/early 90's.
Data loaded from a tape recorder, and was viewed on a B/W portable TV!!

Tam said...

George in AZ,

You're missing the point, which is this: Are those program tapes still good?

(And yes, I wrote programs on a ZX81 back when they were still new and cool...)

Anonymous said...

" aslmost as old as the United States itself."

Ezra Klein, is that you?

Tam said...

LOL! :D

George in AZ said...

Yes, I believe the program tapes are still good. Of course, I've no way of proving it, no B/W TVs or old Timex's, either. Never could afford one of those ZX81s, tho...

Crucis said...

When I was rummaging through some storage boxes a few weeks ago, I came across some 8" floppies with diagnostic programs left over from my computer fixin' days back in the '70s.

Kristopher said...

Can anyone handle EBDIC files these days ... EBDIC was all the rage when we were usin' punched cards ...

ASCII, it's just a passing fad, like rifling.