Data on a usb drive.

  lisa02 09:46 27 Oct 2010

How good are USB drives for backing up?

Got a 16gb USB drive to back up our photos and just wondering how good it is to use for archive purposes. CDs etc are meant to last what 50 years?

  gengiscant 10:48 27 Oct 2010

I think that no matter how you backup, the backup needs to be checked and refreshed every so often.
I don't think that Cd's would last 50 years without some deterioration of the disk.

Though I am old enough to remember the TV program 'Tomorrows World' coating then with jam etc and saying that the disks were virtually indestructible. Not so.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong what ever way you backup. I advise, backup to two different places and then keeping the two as separate as possible. But whatever you choose, check every now and then to make sure that something damaging has not occurred.

I use an external harddrive and 'Dropbox'.

  jack 11:07 27 Oct 2010

Electromagnetic methods are beset with all sorts of imponderables causing corruption.A look at this site alone will reveal - corrupt disks- Data cards[Camera/Sticks etc.]

In the case of optical disks there are two types 'Commercial' pressed disks[made like an old vynl record- stamped out from a master die] and
Computer 'burned' disks made by a laser altering the chemical composition of the substrate.
The former are very hardy except to physical damage [scratching the top side through to the polycarbonate carrier- but getting dirty and a wipe with a soft cloth with bring stuff back.
Also disk polishers work on the under side polishing scratches in the plastic- the recorded surface is on top then printed over with a lacquer.

Burned disks will however degrade over time[revert to the unrecorded state]- and as there are many manufacturers and variations in the coating and added to the storage conditions- it is impossible to give a life estimate.
So keep backing up the backups.

  gengiscant 11:18 27 Oct 2010

'The best 'Backup' still has to be paper'

Until you have a fire, then no more paper.

  robin_x 12:58 27 Oct 2010

Multiple copies are the only safe bet in the short term.

I have had one USB (actually a microSD card) fail out of a total of 8 in two yrs.

Knackered CDs and DVDs? Too many to mention, even when hardly used and kept, in case, in a desk drawer. But I do mostly use Supermarket brands.

HDDs. Never in 20+ yrs, but I have been lucky.

Corrupted files, backups and backup images - often.
(even though the media device is not 'failed')

Keep your photos on HDD, with regular backups of that HDD to an external HDD.
Use your 16GB as well. (you won't be filling that with jpgs unless you take a lot of irreplaceable photos)
A set of good quality DVDs with same data.
(Distribute copies of family photos etc to family and friends)
Could consider one of the free Cloud accounts.
But assume that they will lose your data by accident at some point or go bust.

Maybe we should all stop taking hundreds and thousands of photos and go back to the old days.
Take your selected photos on your memory card to the printshop/supermarket and get them printed on glossy.
Again, a spare set fro family and friends.

Already many organisations archiving data are worried about this for data that must survive many years. It's not widely in the news and last I heard there is no clear consensus on a solution.
Must have a Google and see what the latest is.
Depends on the organisation I suppose and budgets.

  jamesd1981 11:41 29 Oct 2010

i did read once either in a mag or web page, of a guy who tested a theory he had for preserving disc, he made two identical copies on the same brand of discs, and one of them he simply used normal small amount of car polish, the thoery being polish protects your paint from the sun, so why not a disc, and he claims he went back many years later, the untreated disc wouldnt work, but the polished one was perfect.

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