Monday, April 21, 2008

Your precious data...poof--GONE

There was a recent The New York Times article in the "technology" section regarding a serious issue that has been around for a long time and is quite frustrating--a reliable method of storing information. What startled me was the following: "The life span of data on a CD recorded with a CD burner, for instance, could be as little as five years if it is exposed to extremes in humidity or temperature." That's not very reassuring for I was instructed when I bought a new computer a few months ago to download "recovery disks" in event of the unthinkable--hard drive failure or some other unspeakable issue that would require me to reset the computer with factory programing--like starting all over. Those eight recovery disks, which took nearly three hours to burn, are susceptible to environmental conditions and handling. Other than sealing them in an inert gaseous atmosphere and stored in a salt mine in Lyons, Kansas I, we, run the risk of losing precious and important electronically stored data. Personal technical data, family genealogy, research papers, current and past photographic images, music, etc. are potential victims of disintegration. One missing or distorted "byte" on a government disk could change one's sex, state that you are Elvis and working as a welder in the Long Beach ship yards, or worse: DEAD. This has been a fussy issue especially in the music industry for it was once thought that vinyl was king, then magnetic tape, and now a piece of plastic. We may wind up putting everything back on cave walls. The long heralded electronic methodology of data storage may well be an illusion fraught with similar issues of archival storage intentions but prone to serious issues of retrieval.

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