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Archiving Your Valuable Files

Harvey asks:

Somewhere I remember reading about certain CDs that were recommended for archival information. My recollection is that they had some coating or thicker layers that would last longer. Do you know of such items? Also, are there special storage sleeves for CD discs that inhibit age related deterioration?

Well, Harvey, to begin with, the disc that most people recommend for archiving is a gold DVD.


In tests, these have been shown to have up to a 15 year retention time.

As far as storing your discs goes, the type of storage sleeve doesn’t really matter. Keep your DVDs in a dry, temperature-controlled environment. As long as you do that, the sleeves don’t matter.

There are other options for archiving your photos and other information, though.

One is to use memory cards.


Memory cards can have much larger capacity than DVD’s, anywhere from double to triple or more. If you are using these to archive information, you should (again) store them in a temperature-controlled environment in their original plastic containers.

Another option is to use an external hard drive.
These tend to be MUCH larger (up to 2 TB) and much less expensive on a dollar per megabyte basis than memory cards. Again, they should be stored in a temperature-controlled, dry environment. If you are using it for archiving information rather than simply backing up information, you should store the drive in its original container.

One of the most important things to remember, though, is that ALL OF THESE OPTIONS CAN AND PROBABLY WILL FAIL. ALL OF THEM.

But don’t panic. That doesn’t mean that it’s hopeless to back your information up or to archive it. All that it means is that it is important to use redundancy in your back-ups and archives. This means that if you use discs, backup the discs and keep the second set stored separately from the first set. If you use memory cards, back up your memory card and store the two cards separately. You get the idea. It is also a good idea to periodically check your archived material to make sure that it’s okay. If the data has become corrupted for whatever reason, no problem… you have the backup to make a new archive. The chances of your archived material and backup archive material both failing at the same time are slim to none.

Hope this helps.

~Randal Schaffer