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01-03-2015, 09:58 AM   #1
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USB stick drives?

How good/safe are USB stick drives for long term data storage of photos? Is this an effective way to store your photos due to ease of transport? Can easily drop in safe deposit without taking up room?

01-03-2015, 10:35 AM   #2
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Data storage lifespans: How long will media really last? - StorageCraft
USB flash drive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://www.archives.qld.gov.au/Recordkeeping/GRKDownloads/Documents/StorageGuideline.pdf
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Optical Storage Media: Storing Temporary Records on CDs and DVDs

Most of what I have read indicate the lifespan is primarily affected by write cycles. Environmental conditions, especially static electricity, are another but secondary factor. So if you write the data to flash memory, seal it in a static resistant bag and lock it away in a metal vault or safe, lifespan is long but undetermined. Unlike optical media which has received extensive testing there are no reports I can find on lifespan as a function of time, only lifespan as a function of write cycles. But all indications are that lifespan will exceed any other current storage media with the exception of M-Disk.
01-03-2015, 11:01 AM   #3
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If the images are valuable enough to keep in a Safe Deposit Box, I recommend two copies each on two separate medias, like USB and DVD.
01-03-2015, 11:12 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Shakey Quote
How good/safe are USB stick drives for long term data storage of photos? Is this an effective way to store your photos due to ease of transport? Can easily drop in safe deposit without taking up room?
Depending on the brand but they can be quite small and inconspicuous so dropping them somewhere is easy and will hardly take up room at all. My wife uses a 32GB SanDisk cruzer on her car stereo and it's barely noticeable plugged on the front panel.The problem with usb drive is finding them in case the drop was accidental. However, If you are storing them in a safe deposit box then I don't see a reason why you can't use them for your purpose.

As with most electronic components, USB drives are essentially flash chips that can be damaged by static discharge (ESD), even the ones you don't feel or see. You want to store them in an anti-static bag and preferably vacuum sealed. Also, there are different types of ESD bags. The usually tinted pink ones prevents static build up, while the silvery/aluminum ones (preferred) block ESD and are commonly used on motherboards and HDDs. As mentioned above, memory devices have a finite number of write cycles, but we're talking roughly 100,000 write cycles. Considering the price of USB drive nowadays, it's always a good idea to have redundant copies of your data.

01-03-2015, 11:27 AM   #5
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What do you mean by "long-term". Are these photos that you would like your children and grandchildren to see? The most reliable longest term storage is paper storage.
Think of documents that are hundreds of years old. I doubt if there will be readers that can read USB drives sometime in the future.
If you lock them away and forget about regularly updated the technology, your children might not be able to view your photos.
I have files (and digitized photos) on 5 1/4 and 3 1/5 inch disks that are unreadable. I also have some computer tape drives from the 1950's that were discarded in the 1970's, not because no one wanted the data anymore, but because readers for those type of tape drives no longer existed only 20 years after they were created.
Just like we have to regularly update our videos from earlier days to DVD's and maybe digitize our slides when we no longer have a slide projector, we need to think about what digital media we want future generations to be able to view.
01-03-2015, 11:31 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by K57XR Quote
it's always a good idea to have redundant copies of your data.
I think that is the absolute key. A single copy of anything electronic or otherwise is in danger of loss by electronic failure, fire, theft or whatever. I know a photographer who lost 20 years of prints and negatives of professional shoots with 60's and 70's rock bands. The value is simply incalculable and all gone because they were all in the same place.

We should be 'managing' our digital assets not 'storing' them. That means continous refresh of storage media and changing media type when needed, regular backups to multiple locations and testing of the storage media, procedures and methods used.
01-03-2015, 12:14 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I think that is the absolute key. A single copy of anything electronic or otherwise is in danger of loss by electronic failure, fire, theft or whatever. I know a photographer who lost 20 years of prints and negatives of professional shoots with 60's and 70's rock bands. The value is simply incalculable and all gone because they were all in the same place.

We should be 'managing' our digital assets not 'storing' them. That means continous refresh of storage media and changing media type when needed, regular backups to multiple locations and testing of the storage media, procedures and methods used.
Excellent advice from jatrax all around. Don't neglect the "multiple locations" part of the advice.
I knew an organization recently that made daily back-ups of their computer files to tape, but they put the back-up tapes on top of their servers.
There was a fire in the building that destroyed their servers, and, of course, their back-up tapes. It's hard to believe that folks would do that, but they did. This was just a couple of years ago. I would have thought people would know better.
01-03-2015, 12:30 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DAKS Quote
What do you mean by "long-term". Are these photos that you would like your children and grandchildren to see? The most reliable longest term storage is paper storage.
Think of documents that are hundreds of years old. I doubt if there will be readers that can read USB drives sometime in the future.
If you lock them away and forget about regularly updated the technology, your children might not be able to view your photos.
I have files (and digitized photos) on 5 1/4 and 3 1/5 inch disks that are unreadable. I also have some computer tape drives from the 1950's that were discarded in the 1970's, not because no one wanted the data anymore, but because readers for those type of tape drives no longer existed only 20 years after they were created.
Just like we have to regularly update our videos from earlier days to DVD's and maybe digitize our slides when we no longer have a slide projector, we need to think about what digital media we want future generations to be able to view.
I have external 5.25 & 3.5 disk drives that work via USB on my current computer. I've archieved all the data from those sources on more modern storage media but there are ways to access old data. Staying within a couple generations is best but there are usually ways, if you really want to access old data.

01-03-2015, 01:30 PM   #9
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Excellent points from DAKS and jatrax. When it comes to data storage in general, here's very short but good read: The Computer Backup Rule of Three - Scott Hanselman
Agreed with having access to old storage media using newer technology. It's amazing how storage media has evolved nowadays. My wife's barley noticeable USB drive plugged on her car stereo contains hundreds and hundreds of music. Expensive but Kingston has a 1TB flash drive. While the 3.5" floppy's of the 80's isn't even enough to hold an image from my old Fuji Fine pix point and shoot. I remember the Packard Bell pc back in the days came with about 35 floppy's as backup for Windows 3.1
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