There’s several issues to consider with data storage: 1. The media the data is on. How long will it last and 2. The format of the data itself. 20 years from now will you be able to read it.
USA Today writes In the digital era, consumers worry about the staying power of their sacred possessions. They fret about the permanence of computers and electronics gear. They read about “CD rot,” short-lived iPod batteries and pricey plasma TVs with traces of static images “burned into” the display. And they pray that the most prized digital treasures ó family photographs ó will last from one generation to the next.
Sometimes, as with digital TV, the latest gear really is the next big thing. But often a new product merely reflects powerful market forces, like changing styles or planned obsolescence. Businesses require regular turnover to generate profit. Never mind that what exists might not need fixing.
Digital longevity is a contradiction in terms. As consumers eye their aging PCs or pine for the latest camera or cell phone gadgetry, they must worry about the legacy of stuff left behind. Professional and consumer archivists grapple with how to preserve documents, music and images produced by no-longer-relevant machines. At the same time, shoppers worry that the money they spend on a camera today might buy them a more sophisticated one next month as prices fall.
There are no easy solutions. But there are key questions, and perhaps some surprising answers.