I got an email from a new subscriber to my newsletter. He was asking me to update my (free-with-subscription) ebook on scanning family photos. He suggested I include the option of storing digital photos to flash drives.

Will I make that change? That depends on the answer to some important questions:

  • How long can we expect USB-powered flash drives to last?
  • How soon will they become obsolete?
  • How do these numbers compare to CDs? To hard drives?

Do I have an answer?

Nope. Not yet.

While I’m busy researching this question, you can check out this interesting thread on absolutewrite.com. It’s a site designed for freelance writers, not archivists or IT experts. On the upside you get real-world stories — but keep in mind that it’s hard to tell who is a trusted authority and who is not.
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{ 2 comments }

Ed March 5, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Hi Sally:
When I worked at Smith’s Industries we produced lots of downloads of computer programs to fly aircraft of various types, passenger, military, using flash memory.

Ed Spaans

Infinite Ancestors February 18, 2007 at 4:08 pm

Flash memory does have a limited number of read-write cycles (typically around 100,000), so for practical transfer purposes, will last a long time. But I certainly wouldn’t rely on it as my sole media for archival. Technology changes rapidly, and it’s difficult to get valid longevity data on the various kinds of media available today. My recommendation is to keep multiple copies of your data across many media types, keep the copies updated and refreshed, and share your information with others rather than waiting to write that big book you’ve always dreamed of writing:

http://infiniteancestors.blogspot.com/2006/12/preserving-our-memories-part-1.html

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