When small businesses and consumers archive their files, there is an expectation that the archived documents will be properly stored and accessible for years to come. However, not all available options can facilitate long-term storage needs. Many are either simply not designed for longevity or are highly susceptible to conditions that could reduce their expected lifespan. Knowing the data loss risks presented by various storage options before making a choice can pay off in the long run for small business owners who might otherwise invest in a bad device. That is why it is imperative organizations and consumers alike deploy data archiving solutions that offer long-term reliability.

Magnetic tape has been utilized heavily over the years for archiving business information. Many businesses chose this format because of its relatively low cost, but magnetic tape may not be an ideal method of storing information for the long haul. According to the Software Preservation Society, the format is only expected to remain readable for 10 to 30 years. There are extenuating factors that can decrease digital storage device’s longevity as well, including how often data is written and read, the cleanliness of the storage area and how the device is handled over the years.

The fragility of hard disk drives
In recent years, businesses are more likely to employ hard disk drives for their archiving needs, but this format comes with its own set of concerns as well. For one, HDDs rely on the operability of its finely tuned and sensitive moving parts to continue functioning. Physicist and storage expert Kurt Gerecke explained to Computerworld that HDDs have disk-bearing components that allow them to position their read/write heads. These materials wear out over time, however, rendering the device inoperable. Gerecke noted that this degradation will occur at a faster rate with less expensive HDDs. In addition, these devices are highly susceptible to temperature changes. According to National Instruments, a mere 5 degree Celsius increase in temperature can take up to two years off the lifespan of the average HDD.

Optical disk media, especially the Blu-ray format, may be the most reliable data archiving solution available. Hitachi Data Systems director Ken Wood outlined the various benefits of optical storage at a recent conference, The Register reported. For instance, current optical media formats have the capacity to store data for 1,000 years. In addition, they have demonstrated an unparalleled level of durability. According to Wood, optical media was the only data storage format to survive Hurricane Katrina. While some individuals might be uneasy about deploying a data storage device that might become outdated one day, Wood noted that optical media devices have demonstrated an adherence to backwards compatibility. For example, modern Blu-ray players can still play compact discs that were released more than 30 years ago.


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