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I’m looking for a reference of statistics on long-term storage/archive reliability for various types of media. That is, I’m looking for information, comparisons, charts, graphs, test results, etc. on how long data can reliably be stored on as many types of media as possible (e.g., floppy, tape, CD, DVD, flash-drives/memory cards, HD, SSD, device firmware/EEPROMS, heck, even punch-cards and stone tablets if they have it).

Obviously there won’t be data on things like 50-year reliability for DVDs, but presumably the data would be updated as time goes by, similar to antivirus comparison databases.

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You should look into clay tablets. 3400+ years of data reliability! – iglvzx Jul 28 '12 at 3:56
I'll see what I can find for CD/DVD. Let's make this a distributed project... Pick a media and report back? First stop for CD/DVD, wikipedia: next stop: (note 300 years of archiving)... – Everett Jul 28 '12 at 3:57
Well I was hoping there was some sort of site/project doing research, but I suppose individual pieces are okay too. – Synetech Jul 28 '12 at 6:00

There' some fine article at LinuxTECH.NET on Best reliable long-term data storage media which might answer your question at least partly. Other sources of interest may include:

Furthermore, it might be worth to investigate some of the following Wikipedia article's references:

Each of the mentioned documents contains pieces of answers to your question -- though none may be a summary including overall statistics.


A quite comprehensive one is Challenges of Long-Term Digital Archiving: A Survey -- this might include almost all information you are looking for. As probably does the mdisc china lake study...

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Nice. I suppose a list of separate resources will have to do since it looks like there isn’t a single location with comprehensive data and statistics (this question itself may end up having to fill that role). :-o – Synetech Jul 29 '12 at 17:47
I could provide you with a link to my simple Google search which turned up with the above links on the first ~5 pages -- so you might check if there's more to be found :) I really wonder there seems to be no over-all statistic on this topic. If I happen to encounter any, I'll add the source to my answer. – Izzy Jul 29 '12 at 17:57
Thanks for the query. Yes, it is strange that nobody has made an official project to examine data storage, but maybe that’s because data storage (and electronics in general) is (relatively speaking) still too new. – Synetech Jul 29 '12 at 18:11
@Synetech: Looks like I just found two of them (see the two links below "EDIT"). Really comprehensive ones with lots of statistics -- will keep you occupied a little more than just a few hours, I bet :) – Izzy Jul 29 '12 at 18:21
Those are only optical discs, but it’s nice to see that there do exist tests. “Interesting” that Milleniata’s own brand of disc blew the others out of the water on page 43… – Synetech Jul 29 '12 at 18:43

The only thing I could find is "Langzeitarchivierung" on the German Wikipedia. It has less information than you asked for, but a lot of references.

English Translation with Google Translate

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That’s definitely a good start. +1 for now, and I’ll accept this in a few days if there’s nothing better. (Now I’ve got good reason to brush-up on my German.) :-) – Synetech Jul 28 '12 at 17:56

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