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Let’s Get Physical (physical storage media and obsolescence)

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Once you save your digital content on your computer, mobile device, external hard drive, flash drive, or wherever else you choose, you’ll be able to access it whenever you want to, right? Well, not necessarily. No matter where you store your content that storage device has a limited life expectancy. Some storage devices last longer and are more stable than others, but they will all degrade and/or become obsolete over time. To get a feel for how rapidly media can become obsolete, take a look at the obsolete and endangered storage devices included in the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research’s Chamber of horrors: Digital preservation management tutorial. But beyond becoming obsolete, storage media can also fail due to improper handling and simply because the media itself naturally degrades over time.

So what can you do to keep from losing content due to media degradation and/or obsolescence? Current best practices suggest storing the content on a few different types of storage media (or at least replicating the content on the same type of storage media) and refreshing your media (i.e., changing to a newer storage media) on a regular schedule. With respect to care and handling, don’t handle your media more than you have to, don’t be overly rough with your media, and make sure your media is stored in an environment appropriate for the media type.

To learn more about storage media, check out this article from the Image Permanence Institute.

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  1. […] Let’s Get Physical (physical storage media and obsolescence) […]

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