Data storage on microfilm: Space-saving and stable

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Hayoz, Peter
Holding Date 27 September 2008

Storing data on microfilm will certainly not resolve the problems that come along with the exponential growth of data. The main interest in this technology lies in the long term preservation of information over several hundred years at reasonable prices. It is a kind of TrueWORM solution and therefore offers a high stability in the data consistency and is easy to handle, undemanding with regard to the infrastructure and technologically independent. The data are visible and it is possible to mix humanly readable data such as text or images with metadata and binary data such as barcodes or highly complex data matrices.
The "classic" approach to data storage with hard-drives or DVD-ROM has advantages and drawbacks: these media are perfect for data access and cheap in terms of production but their lifetime is rather short. This drawback is mainly due to the fast technological evolution of the hard- and software. But the physical deterioration of the material and technical equipment also plays a major role. The long term stability of these media types is therefore not sufficient for the preservation of important goods. Furthermore, it is not sure whether the disk space production will be able to cover the entire future needs as well.
However some questions must be considered. Must the entire dataset be accessible? Always? Immediately? If we distinguish between fast and slow data accessibility, we can use different and sometimes uncommon technologies. The backup systems also may become easier to handle when the archives are separated. Not all of this information has to be placed on hard drives. Some data may be destroyed according to individual political or strategic decisions, but other data should be archived and preserved for a longer future.
The entire theoretical storage capacity is 1’500 MByte per 104x148 mm2 color microfiche and it is entirely retrievable by using modern xy-scanners with more than 5000dpi non interpolated resolution.