1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

What's the Best Long Term Physical Storage Device?

By Right side bob · 8 replies
Feb 17, 2019
Post New Reply
  1. I'm looking to store personal and sensitive information for years/decades. Kinda like a memory box but with Videos of my Childhood for my descendants. They're also some financial and inheritance information I am looking to keep secure. The data is obviously going to be encrypted (I'm not dumb) 256 bit or higher. I don't care much about speed just how long I can retain data without it being corrupted.
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,791   +1,509

    CD-RW or DVD.

    as the media is removable, it has its own physical security (unless your home is subject to periodic break-ins).

    CAUTION:- The loss of either the program or the encryption key will be fatal (aka make the media useless).
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
    TechGamer and learninmypc like this.
  3. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,346

    Whelp hard drives and other forms of magnetic storage media are out of the question as their magnetic properties weaken and should be refreshed every 3 years.

    The US National Archive rates CDs and DVD at 5 - 10 years.

    Blu-ray discs last longer then CDs and DVDs as they use an inorganic dye and include a protective layer, unlike CDs or DVDs.

    M Discs claim to last 1,000 years (although no one has been able to test that claim to it's fullest yet). They are essentially blu-rays designed specifically for archival purposes. The US Department of defense has done testing on M Discs and found that they are significantly more durable then previous optical media. M Discs are not as greatly affected by temperature and humidity as DVDs, CDs, and Bluray discs are. The only caveats with this is that they are expensive and require a Blu-ray drive that works with them. Most good blu-ray drives should be compatible.
  4. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,402   +38

    How long is "good enough" for you though? That'd probably be the question that decides what medium you use.

    Regardless of the media, I would use the rule of 3, and probably forego encryption (a forgotten passphrase will make it all useless; memories fade). I'd also recommend using a non-proprietary format for your data so you can be sure it can be accessed in the future.

    Personally, I think a cloud backup would be ideal for your purposes since it'd be least likely to be affected by obsolescence (we might not have optical media readers around forever).
  5. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,346

    I do not think he would go out of his way to mention this data is personal and sensitive to just end up storing it on the cloud. The first question you have to ask is do you trust the cloud provider to keep your data secure for potentially decades? I'd say no. Mind you cloud providers haven't even been around for a decade, who says the provider you pick won't just up and disappear along with your data?

    Don't think storing data on an optical disc is a problem either. VHS was invented in 1976 and you can still get players off eBay dirt cheap. Optical drives are even more common.
  6. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,402   +38

    Cloud storage provides the largest guarantee that the data will be accessible for the longest period of time possible, unlike most physical media.

    Google Drive for Business offers unlimited storage for a fairly low price; if you’re worried about privacy, use something like rclone to encrypt the data you put on there. Also, I don’t think Google is going anywhere anytime soon.

    Just my $0.02; physical media-wise, optical is really the only one that has any kind of longevity.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,346

    I don't think Cloud storage advertises cold storage of your data for up to 1,000 years, even if they go out of business like M-Discs do. Mind you cloud storage is not cloud backup. Services like google drive do not offer all the additional perks that an online backup provider would give you. If you are going to backup your data online I would at the least suggest you go specifically to an online backup provider.
  8. GaryMove

    GaryMove TS Enthusiast Posts: 168   +11

    I prefer USB because I lost so many DVD CDR store options of damaged disks.
  9. lexster

    lexster TS Addict Posts: 280   +135

    That was most likely a cheap discs problem or improper burn speed selection. The thing with optical media is that just because it states a maximum burn speed doesn't mean you should use that speed. I generally use the low speed possible to ensure the most stable recording possible.

    I can confirm statements above that MDisc is the most stable media available for long term data storage.

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...