Thoughts on software and life.

Saturday May 8

Data Decay

I've often dreamed of keeping my data around "forever", as described here by Ray Ozzie. However, I keep running into this same obstacle: hard drives and optical disks don't live forever.

The bottom line is, if you want to keep your data around forever, you have to keep on replicating it forever. If you backup to a CD or DVD, expect it to become unreadable in a few years. If you trust your data to a hard drive, expect it to crash within a couple of years. In other words, you have to work hard to keep your data... much harder than the average person is willing to work.

Given the relative dearth of ubiquitous backup and replication software on the market, I can only conclude that the average person doesn't care about keeping their data around forever. I predict that this will change within a decade because of digital photography. People do expect their photos to last forever, but soon many people will discover that their collections have been destroyed by faulty storage technology, and there will be a revolt.

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