Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Jun 2014 14:03 UTC
Mac OS X

HFS+ lost a total of 28 files over the course of 6 years.

Most of the corrupted files are completely unreadable. The JPEGs typically decode partially, up to the point of failure. So if you're lucky, you may get most of the image except the bottom part. The raw .CR2 files usually turn out to be totally unreadable: either completely black or having a large color overlay on significant portions of the photo. Most of these shots are not so important, but a handful of them are. One of the CR2 files in particular, is a very good picture of my son when he was a baby. I printed and framed that photo, so I am glad that I did not lose the original.

If you're keeping all your files and backups on HFS+ volumes, you're doing it wrong.

HFS+ is a weird vestigial pre-OS X leftover that, for some reason, Apple just does not replace. Apple tends to be relentless when it comes to moving on from past code, but HFS+ just refuses to die. As John Siracusa, long-time critic of HFS+, stated way back in 2011:

I would have certainly welcomed ZFS with open arms, but I was equally confident that Apple could create its own file system suited to its particular needs. That confidence remains, but the ZFS distraction may have added years to the timetable.

Three years later, and still nothing, and with Yosemite also shipping with HFS+, it'll take another 1-2 years before we possibly see a new, modern, non-crappy filesystem for OS X. Decades from now, books will be written about this saga.

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With some mediums the decay is indeed very gradual. Film most notably. I was using the point at which it becomes impossible to recover the most important data as shorthand for 'life span'. So in film's case after 80 years you would probably just about be able to recover the original colour values, albeit without that much confidence in their accuracy.

With some others like magnetic tape it seems to be more clearly defined.

Also, I must point out that marble is a kind of stone. Pick the right type, carve your letters large enough and you can get 10,000+ years. (Even if they have to be so large they basically just say "I was here".)

But regardless of the technicalities, I was emphasising that all this life span business is really no more complex than picking the most robust material you can, writing the data as big as you can, in an actual language (which is neither analogue nor digital).

A better way is to make something interesting enough that you known people will be continually maintaining it and copying it. See English hill figures.

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