Sometimes you need to put your best technology in storage. You may have a lot of hard drives, optical disks (CDs, DVDs or even Blu-ray discs) that are full of information, but no room to keep the old memories at your home or business. Unfortunately, putting the technology in storage is a quick way to discover how temporary information can be, even in the digital age. To understand the risks, the misconceptions and what you can do to protect your information, keep a few inspection and maintenance concepts in mind.
Floppy Disks And DVDs Won't Last Forever
This may come as a surprise to many people, as the era for floppy disks wasn't that long ago. Floppy disks were touted as long-lasting storage media, and even though their storage potential is far smaller than the bigger hard drives, flash drives and Blu-ray discs that followed, your old memories should be safe.
The research is still being done, but the shelf-life of floppy disks and other magnetic media is estimated to be between 10 to 20 years. A somewhat deceptive issue behind these numbers is that it assumes professional storage practices in place to protect your disks. If you've been putting floppy disks in a box or in the same holding tray used in the 1990's, the magnetic tape inside the disk may already be rotting away due to binder hydrolysis or Sticky-shed syndrome.
When floppy disks were just becoming replaced by compact discs (CDs), a good piece of advice would be to place a dehumidifier in a storage room and keep the floppy disks in an airtight box. If you have important information on your floppy disks, do not touch them. A digital media preservation professional can temporarily bring the disks back to a usable state in a process called baking, then transfer your information to a newer storage.
After that, place your new storage in a dry, clean storage facility. CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disks may have better storage potential, but they are just as susceptible to decomposition and should be upgraded to the newest storage type.
Storage Room Preparation And Container Choices
Dehumidifiers were discussed for storage room use in the previous section. This is because many areas may be subject to humidity, which can speed up the decomposition process significantly. Plastics can begin to break down, magnetic particles can separate through the previously mentioned hydrolysis effect and electronic components can be packed with water, which can lead to electric sparks and damage when powered on.
A dehumidifier removes water from the air, but must be rated for the room in use. Dehumidifiers have a rating that explains the room dimensions (size) to determine if your dehumidifier is strong enough for the storage room of choice. Contact the manufacturer to discuss the specifics of your storage area and to get a detailed guide of other humidity threats.
Air filters are necessary as well, since every entry can bring dust and debris. Depending on the public storage design, there may be carpeting or other dust or lint-releasing materials that can create a slow dust problem.
You should also invest in airtight containers. Once the storage room is clean and conditioned, place your electronics and storage media inside airtight containers to add an additional layer of climate control. Contact a public storage facility for more information. You can discuss your storage needs and decide on different techniques for keeping the area safe for your belongings.