How long will your data and photos last on backup media?

So you’ve backed up your data and photos from your PC to an external drive, NAS, or DVDs. That’s great but problem is the files mightn’t last intact there long term. Five years perhaps… 10 years, perhaps not. Point is you don’t want to go back to a dusty old DVD of cherished photos to find that the files have become corrupt through bit-rot or degradation of the storage media. ‘Bit rot?’ I hear you say. I hadn’t heard of the term either till I read a great post on it by Rich Menga of PCMech yesterday. Rich suggests putting your photos in file archives and testing these regularly for errors. He says that if the archive file is damaged due to age, it can be repaired without the need for any special utilities. Usually, all it takes to test an archive is a right-click/Test Archive.

In a follow-up post today, he has a further great article looking at how long media – hard drives, optical media and USB drives – will last. He comes to the conclusion that storage on flash drives might well outlast hard drives and optical media.

I think the message from all this is to keep more than one copy of your data and photos in backups locally, backup to the cloud, and refresh the files on new media every 2 or 3 years.

Here’s links to Rich’s two posts:

How to Avoid Bit Rot – PCMech

How Long will that Media Last? – PCMech

Head over there and read the posts. If you value your data and photos, they’re must-read articles.

One Response

  1. Photo Says:

    Hi, I found your post interesting and very valuable. When it comes to our photos, it’s worth the effort. You or your readers might be interested in my Photo News site which can be downloaded instantly from here. Photos

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