Best practices for archiving media in terms of longevity and proper storage environment

The media considerations for archiving are varied. The most fundamental consideration is readability -- the media must be readable over the course of years, even decades. Tapes must be error free and hard drives must

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power up and spin successfully after sitting on a shelf for years. Proper media vaulting involves issues, like appropriate temperature, humidity and physical security. The vendor is always a good place to start with tips and best practices for long-term media storage.

In addition, there must be a migration plan to accommodate the evolution of storage technologies. For example, a DLT tape might be perfectly readable for 20 years, but if you move to LTO-4 tapes in a few years, you'll still need to make a provision for reading the DLT tapes or migrate the DLT tapes to LTO-4 -- and do it all with a minimum of downtime. Ultimately, it's not just about keeping the media, but also keeping the hardware and software to ensure recoverability later on. Future migration is an issue that is often ignored by vendors, so it's worth a careful conversation before making any acquisition decisions.

Go back to the beginning of the File Archiving FAQ Guide.

This was first published in April 2007

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