The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
CD-ROM disks, along with their higher-capacity cousins DVD and Blu-ray disks, are fragile methods of storing information. In short, these plastic disks are not suitable for long-term storage. Many corporations and non-profits are racing to get their data off the discs as quickly and safely as possible and into a more reliable digital storage environment. If you have genealogy information or any other information stored on these disks, you need to do the same.
For many years, the thought amongst genealogists has been to print the information on paper for long-term preservation. Yet, many of us have handled old pieces of paper that are decaying, crumbling, or fading to the point that the information is not readable. In fact, most paper manufactured in the past 75+ years contains acids that will hasten the deterioration of the information you wish to preserve. Add in the many problems of paper destruction caused by mold, mildew, moisture, insect damage, floods, fires, burst water pipes, and other factors, and you soon come to the realization that storage on paper is almost as risky as storing on magnetic media.
In some circles, the solution is to “digitize data so as to preserve it.” However, even digitizing requires some serious precautions and planning. Today’s common choice for long-term digital data storage is CD-ROM or DVD disks. However, that technology has only appeared in the past three decades; so, we do not yet know if these devices will store data for a century or more. Some studies indicate that the information may not last that long. In fact, there is proof that many CD-ROM disks may not even last a decade!
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