Media preservation is the method by which we record, store, and preserve media over time. Stored media includes everything from written words to audio to photos to computer instructions to documents, software, and more. The various types of media are stored on everything from books to a hard drive all the way to video game cartridges.
The truth about data storage is that no medium for data storage will last forever, and most of them are replaced by a new storage method before long. But just how long will your favorite storage method last? How long do you have before you need to copy the information over to a new form?
Because a manufacturer claims a media device will last a certain amount of time doesn’t mean it will, it just means it can. Lifespan depends on everything from environmental factors to usage rates to component quality and manufacturing.
The only true way to protect data is to have multiple copies of everything, and the best way to do that is to invest in a good backup solution.
Magnetic tape can either lose data by losing its magnetic charge (any magnetically charged storage medium will eventually lose its magnetic charge and subsequently its data), or when the layers of the tape start to separate.
Manufacturers claim that tape can last up to thirty years, which can make it a useful medium for archiving. The problem with that number is that magnetic tapes will only last that long under absolutely optimum environmental conditions, meaning they need to be kept in a place where both humidity and temperatures are stable. A more realistic lifespan for magnetic tape is about ten to twenty years, although they are more susceptible to wear and tear if used frequently.