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How Long Is Long-Term Data Storage?

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In the context of archiving of physical documents, long-term storage has long been accepted to mean centuries. Digital documents are much more ephemeral, so archivists should be aware of the inherent limitations of the technologies available for preservation of digital data. This paper compiles the results of several studies on this subject, in addition to presenting new findings on what can be expected for recordable optical discs (CDs and DVDs). The bottom line is that, with one notable exception, digital data cannot be expected to endure using any existing technologies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • The IS&T (digital) Archiving Conference offers a unique opportunity for imaging scientists and those working in the cultural heritage community (curators, archivists, librarians, photographers etc) from around the world to come together to discuss the most pressing issues related to the digital preservation and stewardship of hardcopy, and other cultural heritage documents and objects. Authors come from museums, archives, libraries, government institutions, industry and academia. Cutting edge topics related to multispectral and 3D imaging, as well as best practices for workflow, sharing, standards, and asset/collection management and dissemination are explored in papers presented at this annual, international event.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in pertuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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