I know that we have LTO tapes, which have really good longevity and are reliable. But they're still magnetic so they're not protected against big magnetic wave (e.g. from sun).

There is an option to store my data on punched tapes but the problem is that the information density is pretty low so storing a megabyte of data would be a pain. Maybe it would be useful to develop something like a QR code for big chunks of data which you could print on a paper.

My question is: what is the best way to archive your computer data on some nonmagnetic storage so it will last as long as possible and will be as resistant as possible?

  • 2
    There is no Backup. There are backup & restore processes. Incremental cloud backups is probably easiest cheap and reliable solution for most people. In case of EMP, I have bigger things to worry about than data loss. – Brian H May 13 '18 at 22:07
  • Longterm archival of cultural heritage data (which might be much more worthwile than your average bank account data) is being done on microfilm which is sealed in stainless steel containers and stored in a deep mine shaft. Here's a short introduction: bbk.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/BBK/EN/booklets_leaflets/… and more information on German Wikipedia: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarastollen - They are talking of 500 years of durability and best possible protection against natural or human-inflicted desasters, though – tofro May 15 '18 at 10:05
  • That may be beyond your average possibilities, though ;) Those guys are however tasked with the challenge that not everything is preserved in digital form. – tofro May 15 '18 at 10:06

There is soft for archiving on paper (here). See a discussion about archiving on paper here. Even specialized soft for archival of cryptographic keys on paper exist (see here. Of course, this will nor survive a fire, but is much more reliable under the correct circumstances than magnetic tapes and even optic (printed paper can last centuries). Of course, this will not be good for the archival of massive amounts of data.

The "as long as possible" part of the problem is, IMHO, with no easy solution. People who invested on some media to archive has no guarantee that readers will exist some time from now (remember zipdrives?). Cloud based storage? There is some cases of data loss (nothing big enough to scare) but security wise, that's another story...

It seems that a backup strategy is more important that a backup media for all cases. Domestic users today count data with need for archival at the rate of gigabytes, and users with terabytes of data are not uncommon. Understanding the basics of cryptography, redundancy, reliability and security will do the difference, when a choice is made.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thank you very much for the answer, this is exactly what I was looking for. So it seems like there is no nonmagnetic storage made for storing large amounts of data. – daralim May 13 '18 at 15:02
  • It depends on what "large" means. I did backup on Bluray disks some time ago, and it was okay, but not without flaws. One time an defective media media made me sweat a little, but I did the recover at the end... This is really bad, because you think that you are safe when the recording succeeded, but you have no guarantee that it will last... But for massive (terabytes and beyond) – flavio May 13 '18 at 15:33
  • 3
    optar is more straightforward, more unix-y and a bit more retro than paperbak. – Radovan Garabík May 13 '18 at 17:49

The M-Disc claims to be an optical medium designed for long life (in the region of 1000 years). It's up to you how much credence you give to such claims until the thousand years have passed.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.