----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steven Smolian" <[log in to unmask]>
> We once had a posting to this list by someone who was involved with the 
> manufaturing and/or maintainence of stand alone hard drives.  His concern 
> was that the lubrcants would harden or otherwise change and could not be 
> restored.
Has any thought ever been given to the inherent problems related to long-
term storage, and thus long-term NON-use, of hard drives?

All I can note is that I DO own a 20-year-old(+/-) 80286 machine, which
has (I assume) a 20-year-old hard drive, used only VERY occasionally...
and it seems to still function normally (which is, in fact, more than I
can say for myself...and I'm only 64.75 years ols...!)

However, hard drives DO have to spin at 5400 (or more) rpm, and involve
VERY small tolerances in the mechanical sense...?!

Likewise, has similar research ever been done on "floppy discs?" I have
found those to be very susceptible to magnetic "damage"...but, OTOH, I
have 20-or-more year-old 5.25" floppies which are still readable (though
one needs to have a drive of that sort...!).

Beyond that, we need to define "long" in long-term storage. If we refer to
years...or even decades...we need only to deal with the "medium life" and,
to a certain extent, the obsolescence of the process or the device(s) used
to access the media used.

If we are thinking in terms of centuries...or, more to the point, millennia...
we not only have to consider the media...but the actual language and alphabet
in which the data is/was saved! We have thousands of Etruscan "documents"
which are totally inscutable to us today...since no one can comprehend
Etruscan or even figure out their alphabet!

Finally, if we are actually thinking in terms of REALLY long-term storage...
which implies possible access by extra-planetary parties...keep in mind
that we CANNOT assume that communication via vibrating air (sound) or via
affixing designs to an empty surface which represent comprehensible data
(writing) will even be comprehended by future "scholars"...!

Imagine a form of life which was capable of generating an infinite number
of variations in magnetic strength...and used THAT method for communication
and data preservation...?! Something like our "magnetic tape," except these
being could perceive the magnetic data without its being converted to some
different form...!

Steven C. Barr