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ARSCLIST  July 2003

ARSCLIST July 2003

Subject:

Re: Long-term/preservation audio

From:

Bradleys <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 15 Jul 2003 17:36:20 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines)

Thomas Edison writes us:

I still have a problem with digital storage, and electronics in general for
long term preservation.  Hard drives last about 3 years and are worn out.
caps and resistors have a limited life,  not more than 30 years. [snip]

Ralph responds:

I think with hard drives one fills a drive (quickly), they don't have to be
so large, and then it is placed in storage. Thus they are not running so
they won't wear out. Even if the caps or other electronics fail the drive
platter is sound and could be read. If a number of identical drives are
bought at a time, the platter can be moved to a working drive. Thirty years
is about as long as most things last. Every few years the drives can be
copied to a new drive. One should in my view preserve the previous
generation hard drive and platter as well. It represents a recoverable
backup. The first and second copies should be kept in different
locations--preferably in different cities in different states. I also like
the idea of overlapping archives kept by different people in different
places doing it in their own different way. That is I agree with the idea of
not having all eggs in the same basket. I like the idea that some of these
preserved copies are in intrinsically durable form such as stampers (as he
went on to mention). However, an individual archive should be managed if
possible as though it is the only one. Part of the benefit of redundancy is
not counting on it to be there.

I think it is fine for some archives to be electronic. Those are the only
ones that have a theoretical way to last without limit or loss of quality
because the electronic ones are the only archives in a form that the
original can be duplicated to a new original. Only digital forms can be
cloned.

I know that any hard drive can fail at any moment but I have never had one
fail.

I think that it is easier to believe things that we can see. We cannot see
the files on a hard drive. But I am not sure that something is more reliable
because we can look and see that it is still there. That doesn't guarantee
that it will be there the next time we look.

I feel that if we all agree on the best way to do these things, the best
form to use for the archive that it could be a problem. Even if there is
redundancy in location there is no diversity in technique and protocols if
that occurs. The entire world collection could be vulnerable to fail due to
the same (probably unforeseen) calamity or unexpected/unplanned event. This
suggests that we practice the archival equivalent of maintaining genetic
diversity.

The biggest risk that everything that has to do with humanity (except for a
couple of disks sent out of the solar system on a pair of probes several
decades ago) faces is total annihilation by a single event that destroys
this planet. Our species and every species of life on the planet as well as
our archives are at risk until we develop the means and execute plans to
export our civilization to other worlds. By keeping and maintaining archives
on earth we are hoping against the big disaster while guarding against more
common smaller ones but nothing is safe at the present time. We are one
nearby nova or a one more distant super nova away from annihilation. I know
that getting out of the solar system doesn't help against those two really
big events but you have to start with baby steps. At least it helps us
against lesser calamities that could still be world threatening if we start
getting some of our records and creatures off this planet.

Ralph
Family Voices, family archive services

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