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Over the course of time, I have backed up many files from my Mac and or PC. Some of these files have not been looked at since I did the backup and checked to make sure I could restore them. We all have backups like this, and in most cases, these are backups that we can classify as “archives”.


What are “archives”?


Archives are backups that you do for long term retention. You may need the information or data, but you really don’t know when you will need it. A good example would be your income tax return that you prepared on your computer with TurboTax or some other tax program. The IRS requires you to keep the return 7 years but they may never audit you so you may never have to access a copy of it.




This brings me to the point about archive backups and a tax return is a perfect example. Data stored on media in archive mode has to be “technologically moved forward” so that you will be able to access it in the future or you will have to retain the hardware to access the archive data with.

“Calvin”, you say to yourself, what are you saying in simple terms?” Well I am saying you have to move your data from one form of storage media to another over time.


“How do I technologically move forward?”


Let me give you an example:

Remember a technology for saving data called a “Zip Drive”. This was a technology that was created by Iomega. It was a slightly larger in physical size that a 1.44 megabyte floppy disk, but, it could hold 100 megabytes of data. It also used a special drive ( Zip drive ) to read and write the disk. This drive was either internal to your Mac or PC or external via USB or SCSI. This technology is no longer made today. You can still buy the media if you search around the net for it. But in computer terms, Zip drives are gone. Zip! Therefore, if you had to retrieve that tax return from that Zip floppy, you would have to have a Mac or PC that had a working Zip drive inside it or externally attached to it to do it. Not an easy task.


The way to get around this problem is to “technologically move forward”. The way you do this is easy. Let’s take the instance of the Zip drive. When I started to see the Zip popularity starting to drop off, and the popularity of CD’s starting to climb and become the “new standard”, I started to copy all of my Zip floppies data to CD’s. That way I had the archive data on a media that I could read going into the future. When I start seeing CD’s losing popularity and some other media, say DVD’s becoming the “standard”, I will move my data to that type of media.


How often should I concern myself with my archives?


It’s a good idea to review your archived media once a year. That way you know if it’s time to “technologically move forward” your valuable data. When you move your data forward, you will also know if you can still read the data on the existing media. If you can no longer read the data and unless there is a legal issue to deal with like retention, you can pretty much destroy it and clean up your archive. With the New Year approaching, checking your archives might be something you may want to do during the holidays.

Closing Note

I only capitalized the first 3 paragraphs to reveal the secret word for this blog. Did you figure it out or did you have to use the secret decoder ring you got from sending in labels from your jars of Ovaltine?


Say the secret word and perhaps a bird will drop from the ceiling. Or better yet here is a question to ponder. “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?”

I will be BACK next week!

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