Komando Kritic: Best way to archive files for serveral years October 14, 2006Posted by oktyabr in Komando Kritic, opinions, personal, technology.
Kim’s show actually had no blatant faults with it today although to be honest I only caught about half the program as work kept me away from the radio on and off all morning, but with a little effort I think I can squeeze a post or two out of today’s show 😉
One caller did ask “what is the best way to archive files for 10+ years?”
Kim’s solution was much like my own, don’t rely on any one media and make more than one copy. Even though CDs were around 10 years ago formatting has changed somewhat and as OS’s progress there could be some concerns about a machine 10 years in the future being able to accurately read any archived information. Also the shelf lifespan of physical media is always a gamble… CDs simply haven’t been around long enough to know yet how long they can last, on a shelf, as a reliable archive medium! There ARE some manufacturers that specialize in long life CDs that might be worth looking into, especially if you want your archives to be reasonably portable, but this wasn’t the first thing that came to MY mind when I heard this caller’s question…
Kim was a bit vague about her solution, to basically use CDs or DVDs (or perhaps some “online” backup service… BUZZZ!!! Wrong answer!) but she never touched on what I consider to be the best solution… A RAID system, perhaps in a dedicated server.
Webopedia’s definition is as accurate as any:
“(rād) Short for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks, a category of disk drives that employ two or more drives in combination for fault tolerance and performance. RAID disk drives are used frequently on servers but aren’t generally necessary for personal computers.”
That last line sums up why most people don’t think of this first but if you are serious about your data backup there are few alternatives as flexible or dependable, in concept, than a RAID. There are many different kinds of RAID but what we basically want is one that simply mirrors the same information on two or more drives. This way, when one drive fails (which will eventually happen) you simply replace it with a new one and make an exact copy from the other drive(s) in the machine. Also many modern motherboards support RAID “out of the box” so it’s simply a matter of throwing in some harddrives and setting it up.
I would NOT recommend using a work enviroment machine for this purpose, especially if it is running Windoze, if for no other reason than your archived data is at risk like any other data on a machine exposed to day-to-day activities on the net. Some viruses and trojans, for example, could corrupt or even completely erase all your carefully archived data! Best solution, in my opinion, is to buy a dedicated machine, stuff a reliable, stable linux on it (for it’s hardiness against viruses and other nasties) and plug it into your LAN. Then do a monthly backup to the server of any important data you wish to archive, being sure to archive the data in it’s own partition seperate from the OS. I run a system like this at home that works as my family file/print/music server and I keep music in a partition called “music” and files in a partition called “files”. Easy, isn’t it?
Ten years from now some new harddrive technology is likely to be available and CD/DVDs might be some quaint token of nostalgia but the digital data on those RAID drives can still be moved over the LAN to whatever new storage technology becomes available.