Risks of Digital Storage

Think your CDROM backups are safe? So did Tom Gromak at the Detroit News:

After a recent move, I found myself cleaning out boxes that looked like they hadn’t been opened in at least two previous moves – maybe longer. Inside one was a computer magazine trumpeting on its cover (yet again): “The paperless office has arrived.”

Cheap optical storage devices like writeable and rewriteable CDs, it predicted, were going to revolutionize the way we store and share and retrieve everything. Among the casualties: Floppy disks, ZIP drives, file cabinets and folders.

I remember buying into that argument when I shelled out hundreds of dollars years ago for my first rewriteable CD drive. I quickly, and blindly, moved many megabytes of documents — articles I had written, digital photos and scans of photos, audio snippets of my daughter, etc. And all those obsolete printouts went into file 13. My information was safe and sound, and I could sleep better.

So, as I re-read that old magazine, I wondered: Where were all those old documents? It didn’t take long to find the series of rewriteable discs I had used to save them (I had used rewriteable discs so I could update some of the works without ending up with duplicate versions of the files). I popped the CD-RW into my PC with the same expectation one gets when cracking open a time capsule. And I got — I got — nothing but a Windows error message offering to format the unformatted disc in my PC.

Everything I had saved, everything I had disposed of because it was supposedly safe, was gone.

This is why I not only backup important data to CDROM, but also to a dedicated large-capacity hard drive.

About Kevin

Kevin Jarnot is a technologist who lives just South of Boston, MA. He is currently employed as Chief Technology Officer at Micronotes, an AI-driven conversation-marketing company based in Boston, MA.
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