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How Long Is Your Data Safe & Sound?

Have you ever thought of how long can the following media types you are using can store information safe and sound? Below is a good list of statistics you can read:

1. Media – Magnetic Disks
Used for temporary storage and transport of data, disks like Iomega’s Zip and Castlewood’s Orb are cheap, their capacity and usability value decent.

However, their physical and data degradation is faster than any other media since they are more adversely affected by conditions like high temperatures and magnetic fields.

Lifespan: 1 to 5 years

2. Media – Hard Disks
Hard disks consist of magnetic platters that spin at a very high speed while reading or writing data on the disks. Due to the high velocity of spinning, hard disks tend to suffer from physical degradation within a period of three years or so.

When you hear weird cracking sound from your hard disk, there are only 2 explanations to it. Either the entire hard disk has began to degrade, making data writing / recording more of a hassle, or there are stuff like hair, dust or other small particles that stop the reader tip from reading the disk.

Lifespan: 3 to 6 years

3. Media – Magnetic Tape
Magnetic tape drives are the chosen backup media for enterprise storage. Their resilience, large storage capacity (1 terabyte or more) and fast writing speeds make thme suitable for archiving large amounts of data quickly.

However, the down side of this tape is that it can get damaged quite easily. When stored in high moisture environment, small colonies of fungi can grow on the magnetic tapes. How horrible!

Lifespan: 10 to 20 years

4. Media – Optical Disk
CD-ROM, CD-R, DVD-ROM, DVD-R are popular optical storage media but their durability varies due to differences in their portective coating. CD-Rs tend to have a shorter lifespan of 10 years while the denser, for expensive DVDs usually last anywhere from 70 to 100 years due to the high quality of their dye coat.

The major weakness of this storage media is that a little scratch on the reading / writing surface of the optical disk can render the entire storage media useless. This is because your computer picks up information or burns data into the disks using optic technology, which involves light. Grease and water will refract light will dust and scratches damage the written surface.

Lifespan: 10 to 100 years

5. Media – Static Memory
Devices like thumb drives, Secure Digital (SD) cards and Compact Flash cards utilise static, non-moving RAM for storing data. Their inert nature makes then expensive but protection from constant wear-and-tear effects also makes them less prone to physical degradation than movable media. This gives them a very long product life.

However, thumb drives with small volume saves space but they heat up more easily. This will significantly decrease the performance and product life of the storage media. It is not a problem to carry thumb drives that are as big as bubble gum boxes instead of carrying those 2cm long thumb drives, right?

Lifespan: 50 to 100 years

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