Hardware Best Solution for Long Term Storage


The Christian Who Hacks Stuff
Mar 24, 2019
The Point of Know Return
United States
This is just a general question I thought I'd throw out to the community. What solution for local storage would best survive in the long term? Keep in mind, there are many ways to store data, nowadays - HDDs, SSDs, flash drives, SD cards, optical discs (CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray). Older (but still useful) methods include floppy disks and magnetic tape.

I ask this because I was considering getting a SSD for someone, but I am worried about it losing data too quickly when the computer is not in use. However, I am also worried about HDDs wearing out too, since they have moving parts.

So, what options are currently available that could withstand the test of time the longest? Also, are there any upcoming solutions that would be better and last longer? Understand that this does NOT include cloud storage - while that may last for quite a while due to the cloud provider upgrading the remote storage, I want to know how any person could make their data last for many years without moving it to a cloud AND without losing it in their lifetime.


Gay twink catboy
Global Moderator
Oct 11, 2011
Write your data to 2 or more harddrives with par files and store those in a small padded HDD case.
The par files will allow you to rebuild any damaged data in case it happens to get some bits corrupted.

As long as the HDDs are not in use, you should be able to retain the data for the remainder of your life.

Edit: this is possibly the most noob friendly and easiest/laziest way for long term storage.
Otherwise you'd be looking at LTO tapes and or professional cold storage which can quickly far exceed your budget or price expectations.

Edit edit: or you know, copy your data to multiple HDDs/SSDs/SD cards or other cheapish storage media.
The more copies the merrier.
  • Like
Reactions: HarveyHouston


Editorial Team
Nov 21, 2005
United Kingdom
How long term is long term? What sorts of data volumes? I also assume this is cold storage rather than a hot array (or two if we go for the closing statement here) you ship of Theseus your way down the decades, or an email account (or three) you might occasionally resend 10-100 megs of files to and keep active by occasionally loading up a copy of an email client.

Long term means different things to different people; in some cases if the tax man does not catch you after about 7 years then that is on their head so auditing beyond that gets tricky (granted many will have their accounts be a continuous thing by dint of accounting software adding on and on and on). In which case burnable CDs stand a reasonable chance of this one, along with backups, but if the timeframe is more like 20 years then different matter.

What is old is new again as well and actually tapes are pretty good here. They are bulky, they are annoying (have to restore entire backup after all rather than fishing out individual files, never mind deltas and problems there), storage capacity in current space is year relative standards is low but it is in the tens of gigabytes which is often enough for non video and minimal audio setups for most people and they have a track record of lasting serious amounts of time. I have not looked at prices for a while though so it could have slipped into legacy fun and games/we know you random business want it because someone scary is breathing down your neck so will pay anything we ask pricing, ~5 years ago though it was often being sold off at scrap prices.

Is it possible to reacquire things years down the line somehow? Around here people like the idea of ROM sets to last the distance which is fine but whatever future torrent/FTP/sneakernet will be around in a decade or three will probably still feature much. Collecting uncensored versions of things that offend various sensibilities also features in this one. Outside of asking the sigint agencies of the world for your holiday pictures back then the internet may not provide for that sort of purpose. There is also the question of how valuable such things might be https://xkcd.com/1360/ , though I suppose everybody says that about things ~20 years old and then at years 40 and beyond it suddenly becomes more interesting (and expensive in the case of "junk" that only a few people that don't throw things away kept).

We can ponder the nature of spinning rust drives left cold, whether you spin them up every few years just to do so (maybe also duplicate), what good PAR(2) files might do for you here, what USB flash storage (and by extension SSD) will do and various things there (there are multiple types of NAND after all), degraded burned discs, pressing services can also be within reason for some people in some projects (dropping £2000 for a run is a lot for last year's holiday snaps but there are those that drop more on less). While there are horror stories and hypotheticals then at the same time I would not be surprised in the slightest to have things stored in normal human conditions still read just fine after decades, mainly because I have already done that whilst also having others die after a year.

Do also remember the popular adage in these circles. Data that does not exist in more than one location does not exist.
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
    K3N1 @ K3N1: https://youtube.com/shorts/PovBS0m8IOE?feature=share