guardian · created · flag · 4

Photo, music and video archival are fairly safe to be in digital formats for short time storage, but surprisingly not for long time archival. Today I learned that normal storage devices are susceptible to data degradation much like the old cassettes and tapes.

As flash storage devices store data as electrical charges, they gradually leak away and lose their state unless powered on often. Their approximate retention age is five years. They are not suited for long time archival. Magnetic disks pose a similar vulnerability too. Just by flipping one bit, your data can be corrupted.


karthik · · edited

This a very essential thing to be aware of if you have a hard disk full of memories and mixes chucked away somewhere. Take it out, refresh the data, add checksums to it, and take redundant backups. Repeat the process by comparing checksums once in a while. :) As someone who lost data (not data rot though), I know the pain!

To verify checksums, on Windows, there is a handy program called certUtil that you can use from the command line. With the -hashfile parameter you can use MD5 or SHA256 to get the hash. Use it like certUtil -hashfile path/ md5.

On Linux, it’s md5sum path/