Paper: A Good Storage Format?

I waffle a lot between digital and analog. I enjoy paper books for the tactile aesthetics, but love the convenience of a digital book (thousands in a pocket-sized device!) Paper books have been around for eons, still available, and we have seen how durable paper can be. No one knows how long a digital medium will last. The Classics have been reprinted and stored in multiple locations, but digital information is tied to proprietary formats. I just bought a fifty-year-old typewriter. Can my MacBook last that long? Will my website survive another 20 years? Forty years? Sure, I can convert the entirety of my Archives to a PDF format and print it out, but who would want to read it?

I try to use open standards and future-proof my writing, mostly in a non-proprietary .txt format, but sometimes that isn’t enough. I’ve lost the early years (2001-2011) because I didn’t know enough to back them up when swapping laptops, hard drives, etc. Such as buying a computer that did not have a floppy disk or CD drive, and then have that information stuck on formats I could no longer access. Or, they were erroneously deleted when doing a cleanse. Oops.

The stuff I printed years ago is still okay. My parents possess old family photo prints which have existed for over fifty years. Paper can be a perpetual format to store information. All digital storage formats using a tape will rot away over time. Hard drives will fail or become corrupted. We can, ourselves, accidentally delete precious memories or ransomeware can invade and encrypt your files, so back everything up. I have multiple hard drives for this plus cloud storage, but this all implies I back up regularly.

Paper is a simple medium that can store limited types of information. I can print text, write on it, print photos on it, etc. Paper can be stored in a binder, folder, metal cabinets that help organize and protect. Of course, it can be damaged, but that is every file format wether it is digital or analog.

So, my solution to the issue is to try to do both analog and digital where I can. Back up everything, everywhere I can. Make it consistent and redundant.

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  1. […] up on a previous post, I have too many unused paper journal notebooks in the form of Field Notes©. I need to frequently […]

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