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best practice or method for archiving large amounts of content (grid down)

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Smurf Hunter:
I have in my personal google drive, well over 100GB of documents, manuals, instructions, and other material that could potentially be valuable if we ever found ourselves without the internet long term.  The cheap and easy path is to use USB thumb drives.  But how long do those last? I know that CD-R discs degrade over time (I was one of those geeks burning audio and MP3 CDs in the mid 1990s.)  Most still work, but some are starting to fade already.

I know the old school folks would say to print and bind it, but seriously that would cost me several hundreds of dollars and I'd need book shelves on 3 walls of a bedroom to stack it all. I'd like to stay happily married and don't feel like renting a storage unit to house a SHTF library.

I'm not paranoid about EMP, though something robust in that regard is a bonus.  I'm thinking an external HDD might be practical.  Keep it unplugged and in a safe place.
Also, how long is "long"?  Is USB guaranteed to be an available interface a decade or longer from today?  In my life we've gone from PCs with no HDD, 5.25" floppy, 3.5" floppy, CD-ROM, now the newest laptops don't have any removable media except via USB ports.  Most are designed to leverage cloud storage.  More than I view times I've come across an shoe box filled with floppy disks containing old projects.  Point is, it may not seem that we'll outlive our present digital mediums of choice, but we likely will.

Thoughts, ideas, concerns?

fritz_monroe:
I'd go with a couple of different devices.  They are all pretty cheap now.  I just picked up a 32G microSD for $7.95.

Maybe get a couple thumb drives, a couple microSDs, and an external hard drive.  You'd only be out abou $100 for all 3.

David in MN:
I'd love to say a thumb drive with a way to access on cheaply chargable phones.

But I'm the old school guy. My wife studied electrical engineering and I did aerospace engineering and we have a bookshelf literally full of engineering manuals, calculus, and physics. If the world got turned off we'd debate whose control systems book to use. As long as I'm living and have access to my books all the NACA airfoil data is safe. I have vector calculus books and the thermodynamics of propulsion books. Her electrical control system books are priceless.

The value of these books cannot be overstated. I have a Zumdahl Chemistry book. I just picked up my copy of Advanced Strength and Applied Elasticity by Ugural and Fenster. It's not often I recall my days of matrix calculus to solve vector problems with elastic materials.

We've gone over these books before. In many ways they are part of a past life no longer relevant. But our bookshelf is the difference between the stone age and the information age. And both of us wrote in the margins and highlighted. We can navigate them because we know the notes and underlines.

Long way of saying I think you need hard copies. I look like an insane person with dog-eared pages and highlighter everywhere with notes in the margin but that's how my brain works. I'll admit I get lost at times when in the margin del theta becomes del theta hat but I'm so old school that I'm using paper because I don't have a chalkboard.

If any of this makes sense you are beyond super nerd.

Mr. Bill:
From my closet:



I think the only foolproof (or fool-resistant) method, besides paper, is to save files on a stable and currently-common storage medium (or preferably a couple different media!), and make a fresh copy every 5 or 10 years onto whatever is then stable and common.

I see a number of sites and articles online ranking storage media for their longevity.  Basically, it looks like write-once optical media (CD/DVD/BluRay) are expected to hold data longer than electronic media.  "CD rot" (oxidation of the reflective layer) was an issue with some late-1980s/early-1990s disks, but allegedly is no longer an issue as long as you don't buy cheap junk.

BD-R HTL disks (BluRay Recordable High-To-Low) are supposed to have very good stability because they use an inorganic material for recording, rather than an organic dye.  A single-layer disk holds 25 GB, so your collection would fit on maybe 5 disks.

I've had good luck using GNU ddrescue for recovering data from damaged optical media.  This is Linux software, but I assume there are some similar tools for Windows and Mac.

Smurf Hunter:
Some good points.

David: for full on text books, I agree that just keeping a hard copy is great.  But that is a different use case than the operating manuals for a dozen tools or appliances.
There is admittedly a lot of random (crap?) like tear down instructions for firearms I don't own, but are commonly found today. For teaching, or preserving knowledge, I'm not at all suggesting we substitute long form academic tomes with "<some subject> for Dummies". However imagine you found yourself in some acute survival scenario - you want details, but relevant, pertinent details that can help immediately. You bring up excellent points, which I hope better people than us are addressing. Maybe there's some secret role within the Library of Congress doing this?


Bill: Yeah, I may just need to shovel everything onto the latest medium every decade or less.  Maybe in 2030, assuming we aren't living out Lord of Flies, 10TB nano-storage cards will be cracker-jack prizes.

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