A tiny bit of a fork, but...

When I was at SDSC.EDU we did a project for the National Archives. Gotta love an agency that's mission is "data for the lifetime of the Republic"...

They wanted to be sure that they could still access data at least 100 years later, even assuming that no one had accessed it in that 100 year period.

Anyway, we looked at all the options at the time (very early 2000s).

While media lifetime was indeed understood to be critical, we specifically called out needing to retain the software and the encryption keys. AND the encryption algorithms!
At that time, media encryption was still quite new, and they hadn't considered that issue. At all.

Overall, the best, most practical approach (at that time) was to periodically copy the data forward, into new media, into new storage software, and decrypting with the old keys and algos, and re-encrypting with new.

Only by doing this periodically, we argued, could they really be sure of being able to recover data 100+ years from now.

Don't get me started on the degradation of early generation optical media that was guaranteed for 50 years, but rusted internally within 2 years.

And of course now there are companies that specialize in providing mothballed obsolete tape and other readers.


On Fri, Jan 27, 2023 at 6:55 AM Ron Natalie <ron@ronnatalie.com> wrote:
When I worked in the intelligience industry, the government spent a lot
of money tasking someone (I think it was Kodak) to determine the best
media for archival storage.    It included traditional 6250 9 track
tapes and the then-popular exabyte 8mm (which was atrociously short
lived).   I pointed out that magnetic storage was probably always going
to be problematic and things needed “digital refresh” if you really
wanted to keep them.

If you know the tape may be problematic when played back, there are
things you can do.    I was gifted the master tapes of one of the radio
shows originated at WJHU in the 70’s.   I had them sent out to a company
who “baked” them, but then they also had to redo all the splices on them
when they were played back.