Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday's Tip – Saving Your Genealogy Forever

Editor's note: Today's post was written by Richard Hanson.

How do you archive genealogical files and publications? Magnetic media (hard drive, flash memory, tapes) – not recommended for such by their manufacturers. CDs and DVDs you buy in a store – perhaps 20 years. Gold archival DVD – maybe a hundred years. Cloud storage – lasts until the subscription payments stop coming. One solution is acid-free paper in a protected environment. Or maybe a small pyramid out in the Egyptian desert.

But three new digital media technologies promising true archival storage have emerged, one of which is available now. All are able to withstand extreme environments (like that in my garage on a hot day).

Chisiled in stone.

Rock – Substituting a laser for an Egyptian bronze chisel, Millenniata created the M-Disc. A laser literally melts holes in a thin layer of rock covering the disk creating a small pit. Millenniata claims it will last 1,000 years. Each DVD-sized disk holds 4.7 GB, the same as a conventional DVD. A Blu-ray version is planned. Each M-Disc blank costs $3. By comparison, a conventional DVD costs 25¢ and the higher quality gold archival DVD costs $3. An M-Disc recorder lists for $200. Disks are write-once. Write speed is 4X (relatively slow).

Etched on glass.
Glass – A thousand years not good enough for you? Hitachi has been developing a technology to etch data onto glass, claiming it will last millions of years. Media would be write-once. A major disadvantage is its relatively low data density – slightly better than a CD. One DVD holds as much data as seven CDs.

Saved as a hologram.
Quartz – So you have a lot of data and want it to last until the end of the universe? Then what the University of Southampton is developing may be just what you need. They have written 360 terabytes onto a single disk of quartz glass. That equals 76,000 DVDs. Data is stored as a fault-tolerant hologram.

For more information:
M-Disc: http://www.mdisc.com/what-is-mdisc/
Glass: http://slashdot.org/topic/datacenter/hitachi-etches-data-on-glass-to-live-forever/
Quartz: http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/13/07/11/0127240/data-storage-that-could-outlast-the-human-race

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