Resolved Question

Long Term Media Storage- What to use ???

I am currently preserving very old family photos and film etc: and a very good question came up and that is What is the best storage device to use that we can attach to an old photo album etc:

The reason we ask is that we found some very old documents hidden behind a family photo from 1865 when they made the trek from Georgia-Louisiana to Texas.
We thought what a good idea it would be to store our current history behind the photo to be passed down the generations but do it in the form of our current history and that is the form of a small usb device etc: But our question still remains....What is the best small device we can use for long-term storage or can an E - device even be used to store photos etc to last Generations?

Discussion is locked
snuggbuggtx36m has chosen the best answer to their question. View answer
Reply to: Long Term Media Storage- What to use ???
PLEASE NOTE: Do not post advertisements, offensive materials, profanity, or personal attacks. Please remember to be considerate of other members. If you are new to the CNET Forums, please read our CNET Forums FAQ. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Reporting: Long Term Media Storage- What to use ???
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

Best Answer

- Collapse -
lifespan of current media

There is a finite lifespan for today's media and it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. For dvd's there is no real standard, currently, for measuring lifespan across all manufacturers. So we'll look at the average. For dvd-r or dvd+r media its between 30 yrs and 100 yrs. with the 100 yrs probably being an outside, wildly optimistic number. One decent scratch on it and its data is damaged, probably lost forever to your posterity. A USB flash drive or a micro sd card are both good to consider. They are both electronic storage mediums with non volatile memory, meaning that a power source is not required for them to hold your data in memory. They are more durable than dvd media. A usb flash drive is larger than a micro sd card and therefore more durable, less likely to get lost. USB flash drives are capable of handling 10 thousand to 10 million write and erase operations during their lifetime, depending on the source as well as the specific USB drive. Regardless, a flash drive typically will outlast any standard hard drive. The main concerns about the life expectancy of a flash drive are damage from neglect and becoming lost or stolen. Insuring that future generations will be able to use the device you choose is another matter. The suggestion posted about including the equipment to read your media is a good one on the surface, but also consider that the more equipment you choose to store in your "attic" time capsule, the more probability it will become damaged or degraded over time. Unless there is some great technological disaster in the future, they will be able to read a USB drive in 100 or 150 yrs. If a disaster does happen, then storing photo's is your best bet. It worked for your family album for more than 150 yrs. Whatever you choose, keep it stored in an air/humidity free environment.

- Collapse -
In 1969, man first set foot on the moon

Miles of video tape of the event, and everything that surrounded it, were taken.
A lot of it survives but is unreadable because the equipment used to film it has gone away and there is no replacement for it.
It wasn't Beta or VHS, it was in a format that seemed good at the time but was overtaken by events.

"Unless there is some great technological disaster in the future, they will be able to read a USB drive in 100 or 150 yrs"

I think your 100 years for mass produced CD/DVD's is way optimistic.
CD/DVD's that you burn yourself have a life span of 2 to 5 years, because of the way they are produced. Commercially produced CD/DVD's do not use the Blue Dye like those for home burners, they use a foil with pits pressed in and then sandwiched between two layers of plastic.
The blue dye used for home use deteriorates over the span of 2 to 5 years.


- Collapse -
i quickly dismissed dvd's as an option if you read any of it

I stated " For dvd-r or dvd+r media its between 30 yrs and 100 yrs. with the 100 yrs probably being an outside, wildly optimistic number." In controlled storage you will get the 30 yrs, which is insufficient. I have cd's burned nearly 15 yrs ago sitting on a shelf and none have gone bad.

the case you make about video tape was the industrial machines of the day. If video tape had been made on the not yet available 3/4 inch machines it would be readable today in many homes (i still have two old but working vcr's) and that technology was first available to the general public in 1979.

The USB flash drive will be readable in the future because it interacts with a computers flash memory and contains only a circuit board and connecting pins.

- Collapse -
Thank You

So far we are leaning towards a usb and wrapped in gold leaf.

- Collapse -
There are archival discs

Just so you know, there are discs that are made to be archival in nature. They have a "golden hue" when looking at blanks. Just google away for keywords:

I would think discs would have a better chance likelihood of use in the future. Also, consider that some data services can be found for media storage that is dated. At the costs involved, it wouldn't hurt to have both types used in storage, copies all. As for gold leaf, well, I don't know, since that can't be separated and would in the wrong hands be redeemed for metal value. Thus, I suggest vacuum packing and further wrap in plastic or acid free materials. -----Willy Happy

- Collapse -
Re:lng term storage

Paper is good, parchment is better, and clay tablets seem to be the best, given the history of storing information for future generations.


- Collapse -
Modern storage.

As any one will tell you, hard copy is best. If you used CDs that's fine but you know to control the use and handling. I won't duplicate the study on that.

Today I'd consider memory sticks and again, control use, handling and storage conditions. There are folk that are going to lose even that so you never give them your last copy.

- Collapse -
Look into...

Sorry, there are no guarantees on on any of this but it appears writable discs as in CD/DVD/BD. If you want an USB device then use a flash drive or memory cards. It's important to also provide a device that can read the stored media. In other words, you're providing a "whole package" here so anyone yrs. later can retrieve. AND!!! if its retrievable can then be stored in whatever future media storage your ancestors would deem better to continue the process. Thus, I suggest you pick a h/w bundle and make the stored media in reference to the h/w and place these in some hard storage container, like a camera or Pelican case. Google Pelican cases. That way you can protect the whole package and LABEL it too, so no one tosses or misplaces this in the future. You *MAY* want to make copies and distribute to other family members which can add their own family tree branch as well to their copy.

tada -----Willy Happy

- Collapse -
Long Term Media Storage- What to use ???

So far we are looking at a sd usb 32GB drive and wrapping it in gold leaf as a protectant. We would like to thank ALL the members for sharing their knowledge and if you have a really better idea then please share it.

Thank You! CNET

CNET Forums