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Tips from PC World

  • Choose the right format. The file types that will still be readable far into the future are the most popular and widely used ones. So choose industry-standard formats that many programs support, such as JPEG for photos or MP3 for music, rather than proprietary or lesser-known formats like PSD (Photoshop) for pictures or FLAC for audio files.
  • Use write-once discs. Go with CD-R or DVD-R/DVD+R; stay away from RW media. You don't want to accidentally write over data meant for long-term archiving, and -RW media is not as stable as write-once media. Also look for discs labeled as "Archival" and "Scratch-Resistant." These are manufactured to higher standards, and use special coatings and more stable reflective layers.
  • Make multiple copies and store them properly. Store multiple copies of your data in different locations, such as your home, your safe deposit box, and with a trusted relative or two. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Heat, moisture and UV rays are the most damaging things you can expose your discs to.
  • Check them regularly. Each time you get a new computer, make it a habit to pop in your archived discs and make sure you can still read them. If not, convert them using your old computer before you dispose of it.

How to read an old floppy disk.
People have generally reported being able to read floppy disks up to 10 years old. Older disks or unreadable floppys may be due to:
  • Media decay over time.
  • Magnetic of physical damage.
  • Perforated disks which do not contain a media descriptor byte.
  • Incompatibility with Apple or DOS formats.
  • Have friends, someone from your computer user group or a local computer store try. They may have an old computer with a drive and/or software that is compatible with your disk.
  • Send them to DriveSavers who will recover dat for a fee.
  • Get a USB floppy drive from someplace like Cyberguys.com
optical storage (CD-ROM, DVD)
File Systems FAT, NTFS, HFS
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last updated 1 Nov 2012