Wednesday, 6 March 2013

sticky drives and digital preservation

The other learning from installing lubuntu is that old hardware fails, particularly when it has been in store.

Drives stick, drives fail, and finding replacement bits on ebay and the like can be fun.  Now while the cd format is well known and fairly generic, that's not the same with other media formats - you need the hardware and you need a tool to read the data in the correct way, and with some of the older tape and disk formats this can be a challenge.

But, because hardware is fallible, the idea of simply keeping 'one of everything' doesn't work. They'll die on you. Even if the files you are trying to preserve are in an 'eccentric format' - my favourite example is 1990's Claris works files - the thing that should be done is to get them archived/deposited somewhere well before you do any document recovery on them.

In other words users need to be encouraged to use online storage where possible, rather than local storage. A properly curated gzipped tar file, even if we can't read the documents is a hell of a lot more useful than a pile of floppies or a corrupt cdrw - at lest than we can try and work out which files we should be recovering and have a guess as to their format ...

[update 07/03/2013]

Of course I couldn't resist the temptation to play with old hardware and have ordered myself half a gig of G3 compatible memory for a little under twenty bucks - if  gives me adequate performance I've got myself a basic linux test machine ...

No comments: