Freedombone Blog

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Legacy Issues

In the first month of 2020 I've been having a clearout of anything which is no longer strictly necessary. I still have a bunch of CD-ROMs with various photos and other data on them. Around the turn of the century when people asked me what's the best way to store data for the long term then I'd say "write it to CD and stick it in a drawer where it's not exposed to sunlight".

That kind of policy has worked thus far. But now CDs or DVDs once considered to be "space-age laser technology" are legacy media and only my laptop can still read them. Chances are that whenever I get a new laptop it won't come with a CD/DVD drive.

So I was thinking, what's my data preservation policy now? If I'm being brutally honest then I probably don't have any data which will be of interest to future generations, but it's always good to keep backups for your own purposes or maybe for legal reasons if there's any future dispute over who originally wrote certain software.

How long does a USB stick last? If you're not writing much additional data to them, just using them as an archive then it's probably long enough. I have sticks around which are at least a decade old, and they're still readable. If you're using a reputable brand, like Sandisk, and not the dirt cheap Shanzhai type (been there, made that mistake) then you'll probably be ok.

It's to be expected that USB will eventually be obsolete, but it can also be expected that there will be future serial device formats and adaptors for legacy USB.

Tags: cd, dvd, usb