Everything Decays

I'm not being morbid. I'm being realistic about media. David Pogue has a great email column today about the cost and quality tradeoffs in transferring old visual media, like home movies, to something a bit newer. You can have crappy or expensive--take your pick! But he notes at the end, the real problem. While many people are having home movies transferred to VHS at a cost of $700 per hour converted, rather than DVDs, there's nothing inherently "better" about DVDs in terms of knowing their longevity.

Years ago, a colleague suggested that a company be started to automate data transfer from media to media. You'd send them a bunch of disks or backups or what have you, and they would make many copies stored in multiple locations on different media. Every interval (year or what have you), they'd migrate your media from one format (like CD) to another (like DVD). Multiple, separately stored copies would prevent destruction due to most disasters, and loss of data due to a single copy failing. Transferring media to newer formats would prevent obsolescence. Doing this well within the media's lifetime (say within two years, not 8, for DVDs) would prevent constant media failure.

That reminds me. I'd better see what's on my 44 MB SyQuest disks.