On Jan 15, 2006, at 9:50 AM, Jim Wheeler wrote:
> The January 9 issue of Forbes Magazine has Seagate on the cover and
> Forbes has named Seagate "The company of the Year for 2006
I like Seagate hard drives -- though I have a couple sitting waiting
to be replaced under warranty -- but even if a company is "the
biggest and most efficient" that doesn't mean that, for long-term
archiving, hard drives are the way to go.
I worry about long-term storage of "shelved" hard drives -- not
powered up for a long time, sitting on a shelf, and capable of being
dropped, bumped, knocked about.
Yes, one could make a set of Sorbothane corners for the drives, and
store them in "cans" like film. (We designed such a mount for 12
1.8" hard drives for our digital cinema camera, and, indeed, the
drives were well isolated from shock.)
But, until cheap, reliable holographic or other storage comes about,
I think data tape formats like LTO-3 (and the upcoming LTO-4) offer
many advantages for archiving -- including low cost (under $0.25
gigabyte), multiple suppliers, and easy robotic libraries that can
handle cloning tapes and migrating them to future media.
Face it -- the future is going to be filled with painful continuous
data migration every few years, which will remain a big expense for
With this in mind, a few years ago we designed a machine to record
data to 35mm unperforated B&W microfilm stock, as bits -- it would be
possible to achieve a pretty decent data packing rate (higher if the
film didn't ever need to be printed for duplication). This would
have the advantages of B&W film for long-term shelf storage. The
machine was designed to verify data, too. But I don't think too many
archives would want to invest in such a device, because who knows
what the future holds (and how long microfilm will be available!).
Of course, the same idea could be modified, and one could store laser-
etched bits on a clear polyester support. Kodak and Philips worked
on this idea a few years ago, but abandoned it. (One could apply
holographic storage principles to this, and record many layers deep
on the strand of material, though this makes it more difficult to
build low-cost simple devices to recapture the data.) Theoretically,
this could be quite cheap in terms of storage media, and, being
burned into the surface, should survive quite nicely.
However, InPhase and Hitachi claim to be delivering a first-
generation holographic archival disc in 2006 -- 300 gb on a 130mm
disk (like a CD) with a data rate of 20 MB/second. Not bad, if the
media costs are reasonable. Who knows about long-term storage, of
course -- but the claim is that it's designed for archiving.
So use LTO-3 now, in in 5 years clone the tapes to holographic media.
Jeff "Forbes is a business magazine, not a technology magazine" Kreines