Over the years we all accumulate data and often it is held in a product’s proprietary format. At Really Simple Systems we’ve been loading data from a few clients’ old Goldmine systems, and like many pre-SQL systems the data files are held in a proprietary format. As our clients were still using the product on a daily basis they could run an export of the data, but the only useful export format was dBase V, another proprietary format from many years ago. Luckily we make a point of keeping old database products so we loaded it up and the data came in reasonably clean. However, it again made the point that if your data is locked into a vendor’s product it’s not that easy to get it back again.
Data StorageAs well as the data format preventing you getting back your data, the media format you store your back-ups on can also be a problem. Over the years people have backed up their data onto floppies, tapes, zip drives and other eclectic media. As the years go by media formats go out of date: many PCs don’t have floppy drives now. If your important document is on a 5½” floppy, you’re in trouble. And the rate of change is accelerating, be aware of the longevity about burning your data on a CD.
According to Kurt Gerecke, storage expert at IBM in Germany
“Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the CD”He recommends tape.
So if you want to be able to access your data in five years’ time, for either legal or sentimental reasons:
- Make sure that the data is held in a standard format
- Keep a copy of the programme that can read the data with the backup, including the archival software if used
- Every two or three years, reload the data onto new, current, media
- Don’t forget the password!