Very long term digital storage?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Macaddict16, Feb 3, 2016.

  1. Macaddict16 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2002
    I am a technology teacher at an elementary school and we are celebrating our 50th anniversary of our school this year. We are planning on creating a time capsule to bury in our courtyard to open in another 50 years. We are having students create things to put in the time capsule and we would like some of them to be digital. After doing some research I think placing archival level DVDs in the actual time capsule itself is the best option. I know that DVDs don't have the longest life so we are also planning on putting a duplicate disk in there as well. I would also like to put this data online somewhere and include the account information and where to access it inside the time capsule as well. I thought of Google, but they can delete the accounts after 9 months of inactivity. Any ideas about how we could put some files (less that 5GB) online to be stored for 50 years and have someone be able to access it?
    Thanks so much!
  2. FX120 macrumors 65816


    May 18, 2007
    Your best option is probably going to be solid-state media. USB is a very common interface that has had a long life so far (20 years) so it should be at least a known interface 50 years in the future. Optical media probably isn't a good choice just because the drives capable of reading it will begin to wear and fail from lubricants that dry out and rubber belts that crack. Also, make sure the media you store isn't in a proprietary format that requires specific software to open.
  3. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Solid-State media. Heck, I am wondering if USB will even be a thing in 50 years?
  4. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    on the Western Slopes, with E. A. Poe
    Looking backwards, 50 years ago was 1965.

    At that time, digital storage options were pretty limited:
    1. Magnetic tape.
    2. Winchester disks the size of washing machines.
    3. Core memory.

    None of those are consumer usable today. Mag tape is probably the closest, but I'm not sure it would survive 50 years without losing the magnetism. Same for the other media.

    In 1965 there were also videotapes, but they were large, clunky, and expensive. Again, I'm not sure how well it would have survived 50 years.

    A vinyl or shellac record would have survived quite well. And there are still turntables to play them on today. So probably the best choice would have been to convert the digital data to analog (a modem does this) and record it to a record. Given the modulation speeds of the time, this would not have held a lot of bits.

    Also recall that there's a record aboard the Voyager spacecraft. That medium was chosen for a variety of reasons, durability being one of them.

    In any case, I would probably pick several completely different technologies, so if any one of them survives, its data can be recovered. In 1965, that would have meant mag tape + a record + core memory. Hedge your bets, and don't put all the eggs in one basket.
  5. caoimhin macrumors member


    May 11, 2006
    I agree. The inclusion of different media is a novelty in itself. Whoever opens that capsule will have examples of different commonly used storage devices. They're inexpensive enough, you might as well include a DVD, a micro SD, and a USB. Of those, who knows what will be readable in fifty years? I have a hard time finding a DVD player today! But, your future audience may find it interesting to see how much (how little) storage we were able to squeeze out of these media.

    This may be worth a read, but it looks like nothing to worry about generally.
  6. JamesPDX Suspended


    Aug 26, 2014
  7. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

    Jan 28, 2009
    whatever you use it may be good to include a player for it too.
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    on the Western Slopes, with E. A. Poe
    Be sure to include the actual electrical connectors for the SD and USB.

    Try finding connectors for old electronics today. You either have to find non-working surplus equipment and salvage the connectors, or you'll pay an arm and a leg for a long discontinued part.
  9. thewap macrumors 6502a


    Jun 19, 2012
  10. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    And TV. Who knows what input TVs will have in 50 years, everything will probably be wireless, including power. Probably need to include a small generator to power the player and TV and gas too.
  11. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

    Jan 28, 2009
    power would not be too big of a deal. converters are easy. but a player you can view the files. and info on how to power it.
  12. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020


    Jan 31, 2015
    As long as the media survives its not like like no one will know what it is in 50 years. I doubt USB will be around, but maybe they will have an interface with USB 11.0. I'll respond to this thread in 50 years and let you know.

    Hardcopy might be your best bet unless you want to make the recovery process a challenge in itself. Sounds kind of exciting, recovering the information of on obsolete media.

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