Technologies - Data Archiving

The only method that can traditionally guarantee a high level of data reliability is RAID technology (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). This technology takes advantage of a special feature of digital data, namely the ability to (theoretically) copy it without loss. Copying data onto multiple, independent magnetic disks drastically reduces the risk of data loss, although the service life of individual disks is limited to several years. RAID technology is typically used for servers and for backup storage within large companies and data centres. It is, however, unsuitable for long-term storage over several decades or more because the running costs (TCO or Total Cost of Ownership) and maintenance effort involved for these systems are very high.

For the reasons given above, magnetic tape is also often used for long-term archiving. The period for which professional magnetic tapes can be stored is specified as up to 20 years in an air-conditioned environment. Issues do often arise, though, when playing back content on subsequent generations of devices and based on the high overall cost of the system due to the need for air conditioning, commissioning equipment and maintenance.

In some sectors and public bodies, storage media such as CD, DVD and BD are already being deployed. Having said this, numerous studies have demonstrated that the quality of present CDs, DVDs and BDs varies greatly. All current optical discs age and production processes are also subject to wide variations in quality, meaning that apparently identical products can end up having completely different service lives (LNE). The storage process is also in the hands of the user and therefore outside the quality control processes of whoever manufactures the media. Incorrect handling, improper storage and poor compatibility between media and the storage device are further potential causes of data failure. These factors all have a huge impact on the reliability of data archiving.

Archiving data with a service provider on web servers for a fee should not be viewed as an option here. Numerous incidents show that the security of sensitive corporate and private data cannot be guaranteed in this way.

Filming documents is another method sometimes used by institutions and groups of affiliated companies for archiving purposes. It is, however, time-consuming and expensive to archive digital data in this manner.

The GlassMasterDisc developed by Syylex has a life expectancy of at least 100 years to greatly simplify long-term data backup.