News / Science & Technology

Digital Memories Won't Last Forever Without Tech Support

Digital Memories Won't Last Forever Without Tech Support
Digital Memories Won't Last Forever Without Tech Support

Tech geeks are divided over whether the new iPhone 4S was worth the wait. Whether you’re a fan or not, one thing is clear, smartphones and the memories they capture are here to stay. Or are they? Those digital photos, music and movies accumulated over the years may be more vulnerable to loss than you think.

Backing up data on a CD-ROM, thumb drive or computer hard drive is only a temporary fix, according to William LeFurgy, Digital Initiatives Project Manager at the U.S. Library of Congress, who says digitally stored material may last for as few as five years.

“There is no such thing as a permanent or archival computer storage media,” LeFurgy said. “I don’t know if these devices are designed to fail, but they certainly are not designed to last.”

Consider the huge number of documents and records that are stored digitally. By some estimates, the world now produces more than 30 million times more information per year than the information contained in all of the books ever published. Digital storage puts it all at risk.

Concerned about this, the Library of Congress in Washington regularly moves previously recorded digital material onto new media, in a sense, continually “re-dubbing” it. The library calls it “active management.” LeFurgy suggests consumers do the same at home.

Digital preservation experts say people should not simply store their digital media, but should think in terms of an ongoing archival process of re-recording those things they want to save.

To Protect your Digital Media

1. Choose quality blank media

2. Be careful not to scratch the surface of the CD

3. Store the CD away from heat, humidity and strong light.

4. Do not mark your CDs with ink or use sticky labels. The ink and the glue can leach through the back surface of the CD over time and corrupt the recording.

5. Use quality equipment when burning CDs

“When five years comes along, you should copy over things you value onto a new device or onto another piece of storage media,” LeFurgy said.

Consumers routinely back up their digital material by burning it onto CDs. But CDs are very vulnerable to damage and degradation. This is especially true of CDs or DVDs burned or copied at home, which are less stable than those produced commercially.

The Library of Congress has a website that gives advice about digital preservation.  It suggests people organize the material that they want to keep and make at least two copies, kept at different locations.

Is there hope for improvement in the storage media?

“We certainly hope someday there is something that can truly be an archival or long-term storage media,” LeFurgy said. “But there’s not a lot of independent testing that goes on to verify claims.”

LeFurgy advises consumers to take claims of longevity with a “grain of salt.”

“That doesn’t mean you won’t get lucky or indeed that a vendor has created something that will last a hundred years…but don’t rely on that as your only storage option.”

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid