In the early days of NASA a programme was started to collect, collate and store data on ground based hardware. Seismic, infra red, imagery and other data pertaining to the surveys of the earth carried out from orbiting satellites was stored for future generations – or so they thought. Years later, when scientists wanted access to the accumulated data which was stored on tapes on custom-built machines, NASA technical personnel found (to their horror) that the tapes had “degraded to the point where they could not get all the information off”.
If NASA can mess up, what hope is there for your data preservation and security?
NASA and the data revolution
Since the early days of NASA the amount of data stored has expanded exponentially. Punched cards gave way to magnetic tapes, which in turn have been superseded by magnetic disks with many differing formats as well as differing disk sizes. Architecture, operating systems, platforms and storage space are in a constant state of flux. As technology moves forward apace, the “digital dark age” to which the early 2000s are referred has created a volatile storage media conundrum.
Modern data storage solutions
Nowadays, we have flash memory sticks, DVD and CD disks, magnetic disks and (to a much lesser extent) legacy magnetic tape storage. The security and future viability of these media depend on many things, including:
- The ambient environment in which they are stored
- Physical security (fire, theft, flood, damp, etc.)
- Physical damage caused to media as a result of ‘read head contact’
- The hardware, programmes and expertise
Hard drives are not exempt from decay and damage. The current level of technology, that is to say storage solutions which are available, are in the main limited to magnetic and flash media. The media available is such that it has to be continually renewed and refreshed. Who is to say that data you have in storage is still viable today, let alone 2, 3, 4 or 5 years down the line.
According to researched information at the websites of Altrato, 4Blox and Zooce, all three leading data storage providers in their own right, more often than not they come across problems when migrating data from client servers and hardware to data centre racked servers. It isn’t so much the data stored on server hard drive disk; rather, it is legacy data which is stored on static media such as tape, external magnetic disk and DVD/CDs.
Often the storage facility in which they have been stored has exacerbated the decay. While it may not always be an issue, it could become an issue if the legacy data is required at some future date.
The point is; your data is only as secure (physically and virtually) as the environment in which it is stored. It can be a costly process retrieving the data, as well as maintaining all the elements required to access the data as and when it may be required.
The cloud is changing the way in which business and consumers store their precious data. Data storage companies such as Altrato, 4Blox and www.zooce.com have modern solutions to a problem which has existed since the dawn of the digital age. And remember, if NASA can get it wrong so spectacularly, who is to say you can’t make such an almighty mess up too.