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Rocks Don't Need to Be Backed Up

Mar 27, 2009, 17:02 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Henry Newman)

"As we stood wondering at this archaeological marvel, my wife, ever mindful of how I spend the bulk of my time, blurted out, "Rocks do not need backing up!"

"Luckily for me, no one backs up data to stone anymore, with the possible exception of the Rosetta project, but my wife raised an important point: electronic data storage and preservation raises a host of technological concerns that the builders of the obelisk never had to consider. Just try reading your backup tape, archived DVD or old Word file after 10 years, much less after thousands of years.

"Electronic data faces format, migration and data integrity issues that hard copies don't, although they have their own preservation issues, as archaeologists and document preservation specialists could tell you.

"In some ways, the Egyptians with their simpler approach were far better off than we are at recording and saving information. Just look at the well preserved obelisk as you consider all the formats you probably have lying around that can no longer be accessed, from 5.25-inch floppy disks to 8-track tapes and old home movies. What would it take to preserve those for 3,500 years?"

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