Digital memories preserved for a thousand years | Bangkok Post: tech

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Digital memories preserved for a thousand years

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Nothing lasts forever, but with an estimated 1000-year lifespan, the new M-DISC comes close, letting you conceivably back up the entire digital world for future safe-keeping, 25GB at a time. 

Standard DVDs put through extreme tests of temperature and humidity generally only last for between three and seven years before becoming impossible to read.

One of the side-effects of an increasingly digital lifestyle is the amount of data we create -- whether it's family films and photos, video clips, a virtual book collection or an ever-expanding music library. And as the number of different storage solutions seems to grow at almost the same rate at which we're creating new virtual content, until now, all solutions, be they external hard drives, DVDs or cloud storage have had their own drawbacks.

A computer, smartphone or tablet's hard drive can fill up and degrade over time, meaning that as it gets older, its ability to preserve data diminishes. The cloud uses a vast array of different methods of saving our memories but will the companies hosting the services still be around when your kids turn 18, and are they safe from hacking attacks? You could burn files to a DVD but unless it's stored in a fridge, it too could start to fail in less than five years.

However, the ultimate solution could be at hand -- the M-DISC Blu-ray. Developed by RITEK, it can hold 25GB of information, works with a standard Blu-ray drive and will last for 1000 years, in other words, it's the closest to etching a file in stone. A 1000-year lifespan is a very bold claim to make and of course one that's difficult to disprove, but the claims have been independently tested via the ISO/IEC 10995 Test Standard, which exposes optical media to extremes of humidity and temperature to determine its lifespan. Based on the tests, the M-DISC actually theoretically survived for 1,332 years. Standard DVDs put through the same tests only last for between three and seven years before becoming impossible to read.

Though developed by RITEK, the M-DISC Blu-Ray will also be sold under the Memorex, Imation and TDK brand names when it officially launches in August.

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