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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Store Data In Hard Copy? 329

Posted by samzenpus
from the pc-load-letter dept.
First time accepted submitter bmearns writes "I have some simple plain-text files (e.g., account information) that I want to print on paper and store in my firebox as a backup to my backup. What's the best way to encode the data for print so that it can later be restored to digital form? I've considered just printing it as text and using OCR to recover it. The upsides are that it's easy and I can even access the information without a computer if necessary. Downsides are data density, no encryption, no error correction, and how well does OCR work, anyway? Another option is printing 2D barcodes. Upsides are density, error correction, I could encrypt the data before printing. Downsides are that I'll need to split it up into multiple barcodes due to maximum capacity of popular barcode formats, and I can't access the data without a computer. Did I miss any options? What do slashdotters suggest?"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Store Data In Hard Copy?

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  • It would be far easier to scan a lot of text back to digital form than read numerous bar codes. Converting the text to useful data may be the more difficult part. But why would you want to go through this hassle?
    • Re:Text, but why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:04PM (#44210721) Homepage

      And as long as a decent font for OCR is used - like OCR-B then it should be feasible.

      The reason for doing it - well, if you want to preserve something for a few decades then it's printing on lint paper and using ink that can survive a long time. The latter is probably the hardest since nobody really knows which kind of ink used in computer printers that's able to survive for centuries.

      My suspicion is that the dot matrix printers are better off than lasers and inkjets.

      • Re:Text, but why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:32PM (#44210953) Journal

        No need to worry about ink: even the cheapest and nastiest laser printers use toner, and a mixture of thermoplastic and carbon black thermally fused to your paper isn't going anywhere(in fact, if you use lousy enough paper, some lucky future archeology intern may have the... unmixed pleasure... of picking the little plastic character glyphs out of the pile of dust, trying to keep them in their original order!).

        His data-restore needs probably don't extend to truly epic lengths in any case, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

        • by Z00L00K (682162)

          I have already noted that laser prints can come off in flakes from the paper it's supposed to be attached to leaving unreadable text, and that's only after a few years.

          • by icebike (68054)

            I have already noted that laser prints can come off in flakes from the paper it's supposed to be attached to leaving unreadable text, and that's only after a few years.

            Can come off, but in actual use doesn't.

            Paper laying around loose, maybe. But l have laserjet printed output bound in binders since the first laser printers became available on common shelf storage which is not exhibiting any degradation over all these years. And, no, the paper isn't rotting out either, just to head off that old fud.

            • Re:Text, but why? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @06:34PM (#44212359) Journal

              It can actually be a risk, if the fuser doesn't get the toner hot enough, long enough, to fully infiltrate the paper(without burning it, obviously, which is presumably what drives conservatism on that score).

              Very high humidity at print time can be a problem: It's rarely this dramatic; but I've seen a few cases where paper, left unattended and non climate controlled through a ghastly humid summer, to the point where it starts to get vaguely limp, billowing steam as it passed through the fuser stage. An interesting spectacle; but, needless to say, not good for adhesion(the characters themselves, while delicate, were largely intact, and could be poured off the paper), since the enthalpy of vaporization of water was sinking significant heat at point of contact. Sometimes the classier laser printers have humidity sensors in the print path to compensate; but air conditioning still isn't a bad idea, if only for the poor humans.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by icebike (68054)

                But when you see that at print time, why would anyone expect that to survive?
                Steam coming out of your printer is a pretty significant clue if you ask me.

                I have boxes of normal 20 pound office bond (nothing special) circa 1985 containing old listings. Its as crisp and intact as ever, and it got no special treatment, simply sitting in boxes on the shelf. I have continuous forms from old IBM mainframe 3800 printers that looks rattier. Probably the paper. But even these show no signs of print flaking off.

                I'v

      • "The reason for doing it - well, if you want to preserve something for a few decades then it's printing on lint paper and using ink that can survive a long time. The latter is probably the hardest since nobody really knows which kind of ink used in computer printers that's able to survive for centuries."

        I don't know about "lint" paper, but you definitely want acid-free paper.

        Regardless, a definitive answer for long-term paper storage won't come from Slashdot. Ask the Universities, who insist that they get a copy of every thesis paper for their archives, printed in such a way that it WILL last for centuries. They'd know the best practices.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          I'm guessing that "Lint" paper is linen paper, similar to what USD are printed on, but probably somewhat lesser quality. They are indeed quite durable.

          However, asking a library, or the local archivist is probably the best idea. If you're in a decent sized city, there's a good chance that the city itself has it's own archives and somebody there that would know what kind of paper and printing to do.

      • Re:Text, but why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by plover (150551) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @04:45PM (#44211805) Homepage Journal

        Sadly, many of my old dot matrix and teletype printouts have faded as much as any other liquid ink I've used. It depends entirely on the ink in the ribbon. The liquid ink present in ordinary ribbons was often of wildly varying quality, and most people who bought those ribbons in bulk sought out the cheapest possible ribbons. I wouldn't bet on their longevity.

        Laser printed pages consist of carbon in plastic, and there's no reason they shouldn't last a century or more, as long as certain conditions are met: if the toner is properly fused to the paper, if the paper doesn't degrade beneath it, and if the facing page doesn't adhere to the toner.

        1. Your printer should have the right temperature set in the fuser, and that's probably not even adjustable to you. If the toner comes out dusty or smeary, it's too cool. If it comes out brown and crispy, it's too hot :-) You should recognize it immediately if the print quality is poor.

        2. Store the paper properly. Heat is your enemy: don't let it get too hot, and don't store anything you want preserved in sunlight. Don't let it get damp - mold will destroy paper. Don't use crappy paper that will disintegrate - acid free is always the recommendation for long term storage. Horizontal stacks of paper will apply a lot of pressure to the sheets near the bottom of the stack, vertical hanging files reduce this pressure.

        3. Watch out for printed sheets facing other printed sheets, (like double sided printing) where the toner from bottom side of the upper sheet can stick to the toner on the top side of the lower sheet. A horizontal stack of paper, especially in a hot environment, will apply a lot of pressure that cause the toners to fuse together where they touch. I've also had problems with toner adhering to vinyl sheets commonly found in 3 ring binders or binder covers.

    • Re:Text, but why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:09PM (#44210761)

      Why, the answer is simple, there is no standard for Digital backup. zero zip. There are only two methods of time test backup.
      1) Text printed on no acid paper.
      2) Microphish. or film.

      I suggest you print it with ocr readable characters with a pigment based ink. If you are that serious about backup, take it to a printer and have them printed with good ink on the best paper you can find. store the copies in two separate locations.

      Remember every one, there is NO standard on digital backup medium.

      Text printed correctly on zero acid paper or film is the only time test way.

      IMHO

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Well, if you really want it to last permanently, the best option would be to engrave it into copper plates that would survive damn near everything short of an acid bath or direct hit from a nuke.

        But, I'd be curious as to what is so important that it would need to be able to survive for thousands of years, just buried in a pit.

    • Re:Text, but why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hans Lehmann (571625) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:18PM (#44210837)
      How many accounts can anyone have that they actually need to have bar codes or some other such nonsense to be able to regain entry to them? Print out you account information, user names, passwords, etc., and put the printout in your fire-resistant safe. If your house burns down, or some other calamity happens, and you need to regain access to all of your accounts, then you'll just re-enter tha passwords for each one. This can't possibly be more complicated than setting up some OCR / Barcode / Rube Goldberg solution.
      • I agree - introducing needless complexity is always dumb. However in the case where he needs to get at this data backup, re-entering everything by hand is tedious and unnecessary.

        Scan all the physical documents to PDF or whatever format you prefer. On a Mac? Keep your passwords in the Keychain. On a PC? Windows 7 has a similar feature, and there are third-party encrypted password wallets that work with older versions of Windows. On Linux? There are myriad ways to accomplish this.

        Copy it all to an encrypted

        • by bmearns (1691628)

          Maybe I missed something: Why encrypt the hard drive if I'm going to tape the password to it?

          The whole point of using a hardcopy is to avoid a number of problems with digital copies, the biggest of which is that harddisks, flash memory, and optical discs all suffer in terms of data longevity. They can also be damaged relatively easily, and, as someone mentioned above, data and hardware formats go obsolete and may be practically inaccessible in relatively short order.

      • I'm going to uuencode [wikipedia.org] my hard drive and then print it out just to be safe.
      • Re:Text, but why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @05:50PM (#44212151)

        For account numbers and passwords, this is a good solution. But IMO, it isn't a good enough solution. A better solution is print them twice. Put one copy in a waterproof, fireproof safe. Put the other copy in a safe deposit bank across town. This is to protect you from the possibility that your whole house and all your computers become inaccessible while you are away from home. (http://www.capitalbay.com/headline/339999-as-landslide-swallows-five-homes-in-wealthy-northern-california-neighborhood-residents-struggle-to-find-the-root-cause.html), (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/07/07/199688745/runaway-train-explosion-still-ablaze-in-quebec).

        And since you've got that safe deposit box, it's a great place to put original birth certificates, copies of insurance policies, property deeds, auto titles, and a SSD containing a backup of important data from your computer. A monthly trip to the bank to swap out your backup drive is also a good opportunity to check if your paper docs are up to date. If you don't have very much data that you think needs backing up, you can use a smaller, cheaper USB drive.

    • It would be far easier to scan a lot of text back to digital form than read numerous bar codes.

      If I recall correctly, there's a format for bar codes that put them (vertically squashed) under the characters or words that they represent.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I would think QR codes might do it. You can format it as a page of data, then a QR code on the page to encode the data in human readable for. Or just print pages of QR codes. I assume that data will be exported in XML or something similiar so the computer will now what the data means when it is restoring it from text. For compression or security, maybe consider creating a archive of the data with a password, then converting that to hexadecimal text file. That file can be converted in QR codes and print
    • by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @05:23PM (#44212007)
      Do a screen shot of it, overlay it with a picture of you and your girlfriend or boyfriend having sex and upload it to a revenge porn site, then publicly complain about it having been uploaded without your consent. That guarantees it will be available from any computer for at least 100 years.
  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @01:55PM (#44210645)

    Print a human-readable copy and add a computer-readable format, like barcodes or a pen drive, a hard drive, SD card... (CDs might not survive very long if you're unlucky)

    • Print a human-readable copy and add a computer-readable format, like barcodes or a pen drive, a hard drive, SD card... (CDs might not survive very long if you're unlucky)

      Actually a high-quality CDR can be much better than pen drive, hard drive or SD card. Laser-burnt track versus electronic charge.

      • Hard drives are definitely better than any of the other options. CD-R versus flash memory is open for debate, but I've had bad experiences with CD-R/DVD-R. As long as it isn't dropped, exposed to unusual magnetic fields or high temperatures, a hard drive won't randomly lose its stored data.

        • I have a 20 meg MFM hard drive that is not readable by any computer anymore... just because of the interface.

        • by Nutria (679911)

          With consumer-grade drives, at least, they'll have trouble spinning up properly after a few years. (I know this from personal experience.)

        • If you go CDR media, you should use CD+R as the +R standard has better error correction during burning than the -R standard.

          That is not a joke, there actually is a difference between the two.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      SD cards might not survive very long either. Some of the expensive ones claim 100 years data retention, but so do expensive CD-Rs/DVD-Rs. They key is that they assume ideal conditions, which a locked strong box probably isn't.

      Same goes for USB drives and hard drives.

    • Re:Easy (Score:4, Informative)

      by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:58PM (#44211115) Homepage

      Modern barcodes like PDF417, QR, and Data Matrix have robust error correction built into their spec and can take a lot of damage. If you're really wanting to print stuff on paper as a backup, these are definitely your best bet.

      Personally, I'd just encrypt and shove into a few different off-site backups.

  • by jehan60188 (2535020) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @01:57PM (#44210653)

    there must be some way to do QR codes
    http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ [kaywa.com] can do it 160 characters at a time, but that seems really inconvenient

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      I've used Paperbak to an extent, and it is a very good tool. The only problem is that it isn't widespread, so if one loses access to the download site, it might be hard to find a copy for decoding. QR codes are useful, but compared to the ability to print out data with variable compression and error correction like Paperbak, they are not that useful.

      • Re:QR codes? (Score:5, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday July 07, 2013 @03:01PM (#44211143) Homepage Journal

        Here's a link for Paperbak: http://ollydbg.de/Paperbak/ [ollydbg.de]

        PaperBack is a free application that allows you to back up your precious files on the ordinary paper in the form of the oversized bitmaps. If you have a good laser printer with the 600 dpi resolution, you can save up to 500,000 bytes of uncompressed data on the single A4/Letter sheet. Integrated packer allows for much better data density - up to 3,000,000+ (three megabytes) of C code per page. ....

        Actual version is for Windows only, but it's free and open source, and there is nothing that prevents you from porting PaperBack to Linux or Mac, and the chances are good that it still will work under Windows XXXP or Trillenium Edition. And, of course, you can mail your printouts to the recipients anywhere in the world, even if they have no Internet access or live in the countries where such access is restricted by the regiment.

    • This. (Score:4, Informative)

      by sideslash (1865434) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:07PM (#44210747)
      In terms of their ubiquity in modern marketing, QR Codes are a slightly annoying [gizmodo.com] solution in search of a problem; but as an engineering approach to the sort of problem the OP described, they're fantastic. There are many free and open source QR Code generation utilities [google.com] and libraries, and the QR Code spec itself was patented, but freely licensed for public use by the Toyota subsidiary that invented it.

      QR codes include error correction, and can encode binary data on the order of a hundred times the density of a regular bar code.
  • by pollarda (632730) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @01:58PM (#44210663)
    The Egyptians used hand written papyrus and we still have copies to look at. The laser printed paper copies of the Book of the Dead simply didn't survive.
  • They contain error correction, they are scalable, and have quite a nice information density. And you can generate them with tons of free tools and several APIs are available as well.

    Personally, I just keep backups and don't bother with hard copies.

    • by maz2331 (1104901)

      I'd rather use the Datamatrix format instead. The density is much higher - up to 1556 bytes per barcode, and it can be encoded in either ASCII or binary forms.

  • by chill (34294) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:01PM (#44210691) Journal

    Google for OCR-A and OCR-B as TTF. There are freely available versions. I use them for mailing labels, along with PostNet bar codes to make it as easy as possible for the Post Office.

    • i totally agree about the font. I used to store ascii encryption keys on plain paper. The one time I needed to recover the key, I realized I was too lazy to train the OCR to distinguish O's from 0's and 1's from l's. Months later I found a USB thumb drive with the key in a pile of my junk at home.
    • by Zocalo (252965)
      Seconded on the OCR-A and OCR-B fonts; use of these on quality paper pretty much guarantees no OCR errors on scan back. Regarding the crypto aspect that kind of depends on your needs. You can get zippable envelopes with tags that cannot be removed without breaking the tag such as these [versapak.co.uk] designed for internal email. Put your hardcopy in one of these and add a visual inspection of it to detect tampering to your daily backup routine, and that maybe enough. If you really do need the encryption, then you can
    • by kriston (7886) on Monday July 08, 2013 @12:09AM (#44213649) Homepage Journal

      Forget OCR-A, just use OCR-B because, unlike all of the fancy digitally efficient compressed hardcopy versions, you can actually read OCR-B without going blind.

  • One word (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:01PM (#44210695) Homepage Journal

    QR codes. You can encrypt these. If you print them e.g. on plastic foil, they'll last close to forever. Of course, you will need to keep a piece of hardware that can read QR codes.

    I would, however, take another route, although outside of the scope of your question. It is something I already do for files that are very valuable to me: I put them on magneto-optical disks. The things last forever and withstand the roughest of treatments. Writing and reading are slow, but that is a downside I just accept. I still have a database ( invaluable to me ) I acquired in the middle '90s on magneto-optical disk. It survived: a fire; spilling of liquids, including dog pee; some mild X-ray radiation; an inadvertent stay in our home's trash can; being jumped upon by a kid; and a 20-foot fall.

  • Get one of those thin flash cards, save the data on it, and tape it to the printed paper.

    I mean, c'mon. What's the point of having it ONLY on paper? Yes, this is the backup of the backup. So what? Add another layer and save you the trouble later. Or two layers. It is obviously not too much data, since you are considering backup it up on paper. So just for a few 5ers and get some low capacity flash cards, make lots of copies.

  • We need more information to be able to answer your question! What kind of barcode scanner? How much information? Are you talking a few pages of account numbers or are you talking reams of source code? How do you plan to get the data once you need it? More than once data recovery project has failed over the years when the data was available but there was no means to recover the data from the media!!

    Are you going to keep at least two barcode scanners in your lockbox (a decent one is about $6-$800), what about

  • by DERoss (1919496) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:09PM (#44210759)

    For printing, pick a font that has no ambiguous characters. This makes OCR easier if you have to retrieve the data back into a computer. I suggest Trebuchet, in which I (upper-case eye), l (lower-case ell), and 1 (one) are distinct. Alternatively, use either the OCR-A or OCR-B font, which are not easily read by humans. Place the hard copy in a sealed envelope and store it in a bank safe-deposit box.

    Also in the same safe-deposit box, store electronic copies using at least two different media (two so that, if one becomes obsolete and unreadable, the other might still be used). You might want to change the media -- or at least review them -- annually to ensure they are still useable.

    • You might want to change the media -- or at least review them -- annually to ensure they are still useable.

      That and, always mount them read-only so that no software gets to tamper them. Preferably even use a dedicated computer for the verification if we are talking about extremely important data.

    • by JDevers (83155)

      Alternatively, use either the OCR-A or OCR-B font, which are not easily read by humans.

      Huh? Pretty, well no...but VERY readable. Simple monospaced block type. Not sure why it wouldn't be readable, especially since that was the original mission statement for OCR A and B, to be easily machine and human readable.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:10PM (#44210779) Homepage

    Might be hard to find, but a nice plastic form of punch tape might do the job of both having a hard copy (technically human readable) and being machine-readable. You'd have the added advantage of being able to encorporate encryption if you so desired.

    • Don't use plastic tape, use stainless steel. laser cut the pattern into it and it should last a long time, through floods and fire, hot and cold. Store it with a primer, in case you die and a future geek needs to decrypt the encoding. Avoid storing around people who like to play with thermite or explosives. Also avoid storing next to large vats of acid, unless treated with an acid resistant coating. I would recommend not living near a lava spewing volcano. Might want to avoid nuclear weapons detonation sit
  • by shadowknot (853491) * on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:15PM (#44210809) Journal

    If you're really serious about having hard printouts that you want to later get back in should a disaster occur, an idea I would have would be to base64 encode the text and then print it using a fixed width font in order to make OCR easier down the line. The downside of this is that should the scan not be great or the paper become degraded then you may find you'd get weird encoding issues if, say, a lowercase "l" is read as an uppercase "I" I'd also take hashes of the text files and print them in the header/footer as a rudimentary way of verifying the files are the same after scanning them back. Maybe do a few tests before committing to such a method, this is totally off the top of my head BTW!

  • Take a look at Twibright Optar: http://ronja.twibright.com/optar/ [twibright.com] (A review is at: http://lwn.net/Articles/242735/ [lwn.net])
  • by RedHackTea (2779623) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:17PM (#44210823)
    There used to be one called Bridge, but I couldn't find it. Anyway, it's popular enough so that you can learn braille if you ever lose the digital reader. Also, if you can code at all, it'd be easier to parse the count of dots than the thickness of lines from scanned-in images; perhaps make up your own "braille" system and store the algorithm in plain text along with a bunch of other algorithms. I think you'll be safe enough from most thieves, just not the government (but they can already get your account information). Really, instead I'd rather recommend a remote server (or cloud) and just use Duplicity (rsync+gpg software).
  • Engraved to stone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vasster (1535427) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @02:18PM (#44210839)
    Engraved to stone. Guaranteed for centuries.
    • Engraved to stone. Guaranteed for centuries.

      Stone might not have very good resolution, but laser-engraving a Paperbak pattern onto a slab of aluminium might be an interesting strategy.

  • Back in the late 90s when it was difficult to export strong crypto out of the USA, the PGP project came up with a program to get around this by using some loopholes in the law that allowed the source code to be exported if it was printed in book form.

    So the PGP source code was printed out, made into books, shipped overseas, and scanned and OCR'd. My memory is somewhat fuzzy, but they had a suite of utilities to do this reliably. See http://www.pgpi.org/pgpi/project/scanning [pgpi.org] for a description and links to th

  • I would compress it with a password (7-zip, RAR etc.) and then use Google Drive, Dropbox etc. to store it.
    Thus it will be future proof for many years and accessible on any computer.

  • If you are going to encode it in a non human readable format, there is little point to storing it on hardcopy over electronic storage medium (hard disk, USB flash, floppy, etc). You will still need a computer to access it.

    There are some fonts out there specifically designed for OCR, but in practice any little spec of dust or dirt can change how the computer reads it (an "O" can become a "Q" for example. And "1" is easily misread as "i" - in some fonts they are even 100% identical). So OCR is OK for text tha

  • I would never have thought of putting my backups on paper. I instead multiply the backup locations to insure the redundancy I am comfortable with.

  • There is no reason why you cannot print encrypted text, but OCR of fonts is more difficult and error prone than bar codes. How about totally geeking out with paper tape or punch cards?
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      How about totally geeking out with paper tape or punch cards?

      That would have been my preference too. If the data is un-encrypted, then you can read them with the Mk-1 human eyeball (takes a couple of hours practice, every day for a couple of weeks ; nothing drastic. Russian is harder to learn.) ; even if it's encrypted, you can transliterate from the paper tape to files on your new computer with the Mk-1 eyeball.

      A tape reader is "nice to have", but not vital.

      Tape has an advantage over punched cards that y

  • Chisel the data in stone. Then use the stone to build your house. It is known to last for thousands of years.
  • It's how we used to get data into the system, or store data from the system, many (ahem) decades ago!

    Seriously, it's a shame these technologies are no longer used, as they would be ideal for this purpose.
  • QR Codes [wikipedia.org] are 2-D barcodes. Each QR square can support 4k of (capitals-only) alphanumeric text, or nearly 3k of binary data. It has built-in support for error correction and spanning data across multiple QR Code blocks. And of course binary data can be encrypted.

    -

  • Shoot title cards of the text onto BW film which is flammable nitrate stock. Mix in with scenes of people acting in early 20th century costume. The actual film may not last, and might burn your house down; but if anybody ever finds it they'll do their best to transfer it to something else.

    • by Jiro (131519)

      There isn't a very good recortd for those surviving when they are actual B&W early twentieth century films.

  • If your text is entirely in a single, simple font, OCR can work really well on that. You shouldn't have any trouble. QR codes might have been forgotten in 20 years, and are hard for humans to read.

    Personally I'd just stick a USB stick in the safe, printing it out is too much work.
  • If I was doing it I'd use a combination of 3 techniques:

    1 Plain text for human readability
    2 QR codes for scanning and error correction
    3 Redundant Gold stabilized Azo dye CDRs with ECC codes for fast machine readability

  • DVD videos, for example, have error correction, yada yada yada.
    But, at the same time you can put a tiny tiny nick in one and the entire thing can become unreadable.
    VHSes mean-while will degrade gracefully.
    I do not know anything about barcode encoding, but you should always consider how damaging a small amount of damage/warping is and how the data degrades when damaged.

    Text degrades very gracefully, the entire page needs to be completely destroyed to lose the entire data set.
    No idea about barcodes.

  • by david.emery (127135) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @03:11PM (#44211203)

    Are available at camera stores. I suspect we'll be able to read CD formats for quite a while longer.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @03:12PM (#44211211) Journal

    This is a backup to your backup, so digital means must have failed before you'd consider using it. Text is low density, but it has an advantage that any encrypted barcode or other high tech means do not have -- it can be read by human eyes. When you're huddled in a rough lean-to roasting a feral cat over the campfire amid the wreckage of civilization, you will still be able to read your backup. That might come in handy.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Sorry, I omitted: Over a campfire of old burning tires. It gives the cat a nice smoky isoprene taste. Try it, you'll.... well, it'll keep you alive.

  • tatoos? (Score:4, Funny)

    by methano (519830) on Sunday July 07, 2013 @03:13PM (#44211213)
    I'm thinking tatoo might be a good medium. Depends on your storage needs and the size of your back.
  • First: get rid of 90% of the stuff. If you truly have that many accounts, how many have you used in the past year? Just close all the rest. For all the other stuff, just keep your DoB, driving licence, passport, social security, address (in case you forget - but then you wouldn't know where your safe was located), bank accounts numbers and maybe a few utility accounts.

    After you've done that the problem will have resolved itself to the point where most people just have a folder of "stuff".

    If you still fee

  • by e70838 (976799) on Monday July 08, 2013 @07:09AM (#44214595)
    Use crypto and only store the key. A key is small enough to be typed in without OCR. If your data is (correctly) crypted, there is no problem in leaving copies in the wild.

    The only solution to protect data is duplication. There is no need for a safe.

    For example, I would be really annoyed to lose all my digital pictures. There is a copy on the computer of my father (in another town). It is stored in a crypted (ecryptfs) directory because some pictures are personal. He does not have my password. I have also a backup of its data.

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