Government wants long-lasting disks

A federal data preservation working group has found that government agencies would like their recordable optical disks to last at least 40 years, if not longer.

The informal Web survey, conducted by the Government Information Preservation Working Group earlier this year, quizzed agency IT professionals about how long they would like their recordable DVDs and CDs to last. More than 50 percent of the 400 respondents preferred a minimum guaranteed life of 40 years or longer, the group found.

Although it has been widely estimated that recordable optical disks will retain data for 100 years or more when properly cared for, not much scientific hard data actually exists on disk longevity, said National Institute of Standards and Technology technical staff member Olibh'ar Tadhg O'Slattra, who is a participant of the working group. Nor do manufacturers use an industrywide testing metric for evaluating their platters. A metric could give agency archivists a solid framework for how long they can keep material on disks, and how often they should migrate their data to newer mediums.

The group undertook the study to show optical-disk manufacturers that some sort of longevity testing and validation procedure would be beneficial for both the industry and its customers. More than 87 percent of the participants indicated that they would prefer to purchase those disks with some sort of seal of approval that indicates that they will last some minimum period of time.

'Agencies seem to be prepared to pay for the comfort of having noncommodity products,' a summary of the findings suggested.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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