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This might be a bit too fictional but here's the scenario. Task is to store small amount of data (Less than 1Mb) for centuries to come.

Environment specs and possible hazards follows:

  • Usually at room temperature, but possible heat/cold spikes. Meaning average is 22°C, with -20°C and 45°C extremes.
  • Electromagnetic waves, slight magnetic force, dense radio signals, are included but not too strong.
  • Humidity level of the container is 70%
  • The storage solution won't be exposed to any brute force
  • Atmosphere of the environment is dusty.
  • Standard air pressure

The storage solution is expected to be available after 100 years of dormant rest(will not be connected to an electric circuit, will not be read). In these circumstances, what is the best storage device to ensure data that is stored will be safe and ready to be read after 100 years ?

For the sake of experiment, assume that the budget is unlimited or trivial.

Harddisks, SSD's, floppy disks, optical drives and many other are available and can be considered. My bet is harddisk, since logical gates or latches in SSD might be released after a long period of time with no electricity. Meaning the data will be lost or partially corrupted.

Every idea counts, thank you.

PS. Not certain if this is the right stack site for this question. Couldn't find a one that qualifies better.

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  • Welcome on the HwRecs SE! I think it is on-topic. And, I think the sad truth is that there is no common solution for this task. Maybe you could print it to (good quality) paper and hide it in a cellar. (Btw, today even reading old digital content, like on archaic tapes, is hard if they are older than same decades.) – peterh Dec 8 '20 at 10:19
  • There was a product called M-Disc (mdisc.com), but their website did not last as long as their technology was claimed to last (it's been defunct for quite some time). I'm not sure if anyone bought the technology and still sells it. Might be worth researching. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Dec 23 '20 at 20:35
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I think generally you should avoid flash storage and magnetic storage devices, because the chips will loose their information over time (e.g. most EEPROMS keep their data for about 10 to 15 years). You got the same problem with magnetic storage devices (although I have some really old 5 1/4" floppies, which work fine until today).

I would go with an optical storage medium, for example a simple DVD. Just note, that somebody in 100 years for example has to have the possibility to read the DVD... (that's valid for anything you use. For example, nearly nobody uses VHS or cassettes anymore, or is able to play them).

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This is one of the best examples there are of the problem you will face: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Domesday_Book

It might be better to ask how you can keep the data alive rather than in suspended animation. Assuming the Internet will still be around that long from now (either as we now know it or in some mutated/evolved form containing everything currently on it as well as new things), then that would be the place to keep it - as long as there is a functional equivalent of the Internet Archive/Wayback Machine, your data will be preserved.

Alternatively, look into other approaches like storing it in DNA - there's been some interesting (if sometime questionable) research done in this area over the last twenty years or so.

If you absolutely must go for a static (and isolated?) preservation then one of the best techniques so far invented consists of carving it onto stone tablets (most such will last well over 100 years, even when subject to weathering), onto metal sheets, or similar. It might be cumbersome and inelegant but, whatever technological changes happen in the meantime, short of an absolute, worldwide Dark Ages of the mind, during which all current knowledge and understanding are lost to us, it's pretty much a given that someone looking at them in the future will see that there's a pattern to be deciphered and pretty quickly work out that your '0' and '1' / '+' and '-' / '.' and '-' symbol set is a binary cipher and go from there. Or you could carve/paint it on walls kept in the dark (like the pyramids in Egypt). Even paper could work under the right conditions (the Dead Sea Scrolls have been around for a while now). Hell, under perfect conditions, you could carve/paint it on the walls of a cave and it could last tens of thousands of years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_painting).

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  • "Carving it onto stone tablets" would be my choice. I think it's better than paper because is more reliable for long term storage. – Francisco Cabral Dec 22 '20 at 16:43
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You want a disk that will hold data for centuries?

OK, let me introduce M-DISC

Unlike other disks, M-DISC data can actually survive up to 1000 years. It looks almost the same as normal CD but it's more glossy.enter image description here

enter image description here

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