Data retention - What happens to our data in 100 years?

Soldato
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Was thinking about what practical methods are there for preserving my information on my computer in say 10 years, 50 years and if I can make it that long, 100 years! :D

Surely there is a time limit to our information stored on our hard disks. Basically I'm looking for software I can perhaps buy or practices for handling my data for future preservation.

Any ideas?
 
Man of Honour
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The problem with mass storage of digital data is that most of the methods haven't been around long enough for age related degradation to be accurately studied, everything has to be simulated.

Then there's the format issues, both hardware and software, any backups you have are useless if you no longer have equipment to read the media or if the data formats are no longer supported. The former can be avoided by moving backups from one type of media to another as required, the joy of digital storage being that there should be no data loss in this process.

Software, however, is a different matter entirely. I'm starting to worry about how long some of my photos will be accessible for. I shoot almost exclusively in Canon's proprietary RAW format because it gives me the maximum amount of flexibility in post processing. At the moment software support for my current camera and my old one is fine but there may well come a day when software no longer supports D60 RAW files. Windows 2020 might not let me run my old RAW conversion software so I could very well be stuck with the JPG or TIFF copy I have which have far less scope for processing.

The final issue is one of copyright. The British Library is currently lobbying for exemption from European copyright legislation to allow them to preserve their audio and video collections by transferring stuff from obsolete formats (betamax :eek: etc) to DVD. At present the law prevents this and hence is consigning a sizeable part of our cultural archives to history.
 
Soldato
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rpstewart said:


With regards to support of file formats in the future, I agree with you to some extent, however I recon that future file formats will be progressivly better than current ones, ie jpg, tiff, tga etc. And I would assume that someone would write a program to convert excisting formats into the newer, better ones.
 
Soldato
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So say in 50 years time a program becomes incompatible with a certain file, it's always feasible that a programming language can code software to convert files? Is that reverse engineering?

How about day to day handling of my date and re-organising my files, is there any practical methods or software that can safeguard future preservation in the meantime?
 
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