Personal Digital Archives

This is going to sound a little weird, but with the increasing size and falling costs of hard drives, my current personal digital archive strategy is to just keep my long-term archives (photos, documents, etc.) on at least two hard drives right in a computer, instead of burning CD-Recordables.


(For me, the particular computer happens to be the family file server, which can be gotten to from any of our personal machines at home, and also over the ‘net, assuming the broadband connection is up. Since the file server runs Linux, it also means I’m not trusting my main file store disks to Windows’ kind ministrations, another factor which makes this seem not so crazy.)

The upshot is that old files are easily accessible, and I don’t have to figure out how to split up large collections of files into CD-sized chunks. And while any one hard drive is certain to stop working sooner or later, two probably won’t go at the same time.

Nice 7200 rpm, 9 ms, EIDE Ultra ATA/100 drives right now run a size/price line from 20Gb/$80 to 100Gb/$200. So if you buy two to keep your data redundant, you can get 20Gb for $160, about the price of a decent CD burner, or up to 100Gb for $400.

If you don’t like this choice and yet are nervous about the longevity of your CD-Rs, check out Digipress’ Century Disc. Reasonably permanent CDs go for a mean of FF1300 (ca $175) (don’t know in what quantity, though).

Some interesting related links:

http://www.longnow.org/ – thinking about technology over a 10,000 year scale

http://www.longnow.com/10klibrary/TimeBitsDisc/ -

http://www.archive.org/ – permanently preserving web pages

http://www.diglib.org/preserve.htm – Digital Library Federation

http://www.keo.org/ – a 50,000 year time capsule using Century Discs

http://www.mediahistory.umn.edu/ – media history “from petroglyphs to pixels”

http://www.deadmedia.org/ – communications media that aren’t used anymore

http://www.rlg.org/ArchTF/ – Research Libraries Group – Preserving Digital Information