I have often written about protecting and storing digital information for decades. In fact, saving digital data is probably safer than storing paper, if handled properly. Preservation of paper documents typically means storing the paper in temperature and humidity controlled conditions and physically handling the paper as rarely as possible. Preserving digital data is exactly the opposite: the data must be stored in multiple locations, then copied to new, state-of-the-art media formats frequently. Now a new device from SanDisk seems to blur the distinction become paper preservation and the preservation of digital data.
The SanDisk Memory Vault is the first product from SanDisk engineered to preserve your most important photos, videos, documents, and scanned files for generations to come. The company claims the device has been tested to support data retention for up to 100 years.
The SanDisk Memory Vault looks a bit like an oversized flash drive. (Click on the picture to see larger image.) However, it is more expensive than the normal, shorter-lived flash drive. A SanDisk Memory Vault that stores up to 8 gigabytes of data sells for $49.99 while a 16-gigabyte device costs $89.99. Those prices include free shipping, if ordered directly from SanDisk.
The claim of 100 years life expectancy is explained at http://www.sandisk.com/preserve although that explanation uses a long, mathematical formula called the Arrhenius Equation that I don't understand. I'll leave that explanation to the mathematics wizards to explain.
One thing does seem clear to me: while the claim that the data will last for at least 100 years inside the SanDisk Memory Vault might be valid, please keep in mind that it works by connecting the Memory Vault to your Windows or Macintosh's USB port. However, there is no guarantee that future computers will even contain a USB port. In fact, I'd bet that USB ports will be obsolete long before the year 2111.
Therefore, while an assurance that the data will last for a longer time is always a good thing, I would suggest that nothing has changed: preserving digital data AND MAKING IT AVAILABLE TO FUTURE GENERATIONS still requires periodic copying to new hardware and new file formats as the technology changes. The only thing I see that is different is that the data on the SanDisk Memory Vault probably will last longer before it needs to be copied for the first time. I would also consider it to be a great product for safety in storing data for only a few years. I certainly would still make multiple copies to multiple storage devices and then store the copies in different locations.
You can learn more about the SanDisk Memory Vault at http://www.sandisk.com/misc/mvpromo1
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