Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Keeping Data For A Long Time

Keeping Data For A Long Time. Tom Coughlin. Forbes. June 29, 2014.
     Keeping information for a long time has always been a challenge.  Thermodynamics doesn’t favor information lasting a long time and so to make that happen people have to spend effort and energy. Deciding how to create a long-term archive involves choosing the right storage system with the right technology under the proper environmental conditions.  This can be combined with migration and replication practices to improve the odds of keeping content useful and accessible for an extended period of time. A conference looked at digital storage for long term archiving and preservation.Some of the technologies:
  • It appears conventional flash memory may not have good media archive life and should only be used for storing transitory data
  • Hard disk drives are used in active archives have problems because they wear out and even if the power is turned off the data in the hard disk drive will eventually decay due to thermal erasure  
  • Digital magnetic tape under low temperature/humidity is a good candidate for long-term data retention  
  • Optical storage has also been used for long-term data retention and should last at least several decades. Facebook has a 1 PB prototype that should reduce the storage costs by 50% and the energy consumption by 80% of their Hard Disk storage
  • Sony said their properly made archival grade optical discs should have a shelf life of 50 years.
  • Hitachi Data Systems showed costs for 5 PB of content over 75 years is less than frequent tape and HDD replacement.
A lot of digital data has persistent value and so long term retention of that data is very important. It is estimated the storage for archiving and retention is currently a $3B market growing to over $7B by 2017. "Magnetic tape and optical disks provide low cost long-term inactive storage with additional latency for data access vs. HDDs due to the time to mount the media in a drive.  Thus depending upon the access requirements for an archive it may be most effective to combine two or even three technologies to get the right balance of performance and storage costs."

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