Classicamiga Forum Retro Edition
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Thread: How should I store my floppy Disks? How long will they last?
Vangar 21:20 20th June 2010
Hi guys,

I looked around the net a bit but couldn't find any solid information - So who better to ask then the Amiga gurus?

I have around 600 backed up floppy disks. What I need to know, is how long will they last before they become demagnetized, if ever? Will keeping them in the dark do more damage after a long time then if i kept them in the shade or sunlight?

Right now, they are stored upright disk-to-disk with wood blocks between each letter (Ablock diskdiskdisk....diskdisk BBlock Etc) In a transparent plastic box upstairs on a carpet floor. Reasonably airtight and dusttight.

Also this is a different topic to this, but I recently opened up all my Amigas to make sure they are still in working order after an expansion card with a battery exploded. Unfortunately the card with the explosion went unchecked as I was away and completely ate though the main motherboard of my A500. Luckily the other two had cards without batteries, but I did remove a battery from another card that had not exploded yet. Food for thought!

Thanks,

-Evan
[Reply]
Tiago 23:43 20th June 2010
Oh boy, there are lots of ideas about that, some say anti-static bags, some say to put them in vacum bags,
I think the most important is avoid all costs, sunlight, humidity and dust, after that, maybe a proper temperature.
[Reply]
Submeg 09:47 21st June 2010
Is it because you want to save the data or the disks? If you want the data, then you should put them on a harddrive to back them up....burn to DVD etc...
[Reply]
Stephen Coates 14:30 21st June 2010
Originally Posted by Submeg:
burn to DVD
That's just asking for trouble.

Probably the best way to make sure you have a good copy of all the data is to back them up onto a hard drive as Submeg mentioned.

Floppy disk storage should be quite easy, keep it away from lots of dust, humidity, magnetic fields, excessive temperatures.
[Reply]
Harrison 22:58 21st June 2010
As the others have said. Keep them in dust free, dark location that is dry and free from magnetic fields like speakers and TVs. Also keep them in a location that doesn't have large humidity changes as that is a killer for both electronics and magnetic media.

Regarding backing up data. Convert all the disks to ADF and store them on HDD is the safest method at the moment. Have 2 drives with the data mirrors for the safest setup. Any other storage media is still far from secure in the long term. Many makes and types of disc dye used in DVD-R will degrade in under 10 years. Especially the organic dye types. Metal based DVD dyes will in theory last much longer. The Verbatim AZO+ metal dye is meant to be good for 100 years for example. But you never know. At least with HDDs, when they are failing, if you had 2 mirroring the data you can just swap a bad one and mirror back from the other. Or even better would be to have 3 HDDs setup as RAID5 so even if one disk fails, just swap it over and all the data will be rebuilt from the other 2 disks. That is the most secure method.
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Vangar 23:06 6th November 2010
Alrighty. I have them on a middle shelf, in a plastic container in my cupboard. Thanks for all the input, I'll be taking it into account. Does anyone know the expected life on these disks?
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Harrison 00:49 11th November 2010
Some people in the industry state 10-20 years for floppy disks, but I've got some disks older than that now and they still work perfectly. I think those time scales were more for disks that were regularly used, compared to disks that are stored away. In truth no one really knows how long they will last. It depends on their manufacturer, quality of the disks used, and how they have been used and stored. I expect many will start to fail over 30 years old though.
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Phantom 17:04 18th November 2010
Disks are like machines.

You have to protect them inside a floppy drawer box, away from dust, humidity and higher temperature.

Also is good to insert them into your disk drive for a minute, just to work a little (sounds crazy)...

But, everybody now pays the price of the cheap chinese disks they bought in the early 90s, while brands floppies are working 100% even nowadays.

Well, I think that if you carefully protect your floppies they will last for a long time (well, not forever), but as Dave said, I don't believe 10-20 years, but around 30 years (I believe enough time).

Start selling your original Amiga games then.... lol.....
[Reply]
Spirantho 15:06 6th April 2011
No physical media is a good backup. There's only one safe way to backup your stuff, and that's redundancy. In other words, make several copies and distribute them to as many places as you can.
DVD-Rs won't last very long (10 years isn't very long and I wouldn't trust one past that at all). Hard disks (especially modern cheap IDE ones) crash all the time. However, if you keep it on as many servers as you can you should be safe... but there's no single media with which you can store your stuff.
[Reply]
Harrison 15:47 6th April 2011
That is very true, and it is hard to believe that even after all these years no one has yet to invent a real storage media that is 100% reliable for archival of data.

If you think about it, glass pressed media is really the only safe archival method. They contain real pressed data tracks that cannot degrade over time. The only possible way to damage them is scratching the disks. So the logical solution would therefore be pressed DVD-Ram disks in the cartridge format, as that would protect the disk against damage. Sadly I don't think cartridge DVD-ram is really used much these days.
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