Subscriber Ralph Campbell wrote me about the future — wondering how we’ll be able to access all our good data with next (and next and next…) generation hardware:
It occurred to me, with the now demise of the floppy disc drive, what’s going to happen to all our family photos, important documents and journals, genealogies, etc., down the road, when Microsoft and Apple continue to make software changes, memory methodology changes, and we can no longer plug in a flash drive, or a CD-ROM, and get anything back out?
Right now, I must gave about 30 ZIP discs with not only just back-up data but trip photo albums. Fortunately, my motherboard has a parallel port on it ( as does the Zip drive), But I’m sure such ports are things of the past. I have over 100 floppies, with data and applications the latter of which are bested by later material, so of not much use, except that files written on them can only be accessed using those applications.
I count most of that as lost, for the time it would take to review, and upload to new media is prohibitive. But it just makes me wonder when this constant change is going to stop, and how secure are the things we save, today, on the media, and applications in use today.
Already, I read of so many applications that ran on W98 which will not run on Vista. This is rhetorical, but what are your thoughts?
Unfortunately, you’re right. When we advance to new technologies, we tend to lose the older data. I ran into that exact issue way, way back — I was a very enthusiastic VCR user. Unfortunately, I started with BetaMax, which lost the market war to VHS.
While we can’t avoid the impact of technological change, we can delay the impact on us. This sounds like time for a some of transitional devices:
- USB Floppy Drive: many of today’s computers don’t come with floppy drives. Fortunately, there are USB floppy drives available at relatively cheap prices — not much more than the price of an internal floppy drive. There are a number of them available, like this one from Sony.
- Parallel Port Adapter: notebooks were among the first computers to leave out parallel ports. Therefore, there’s a market for adapters like this one from Kensington that has one parallel port, one Ethernet port, and four USB ports.
- External Hard Drive: these have gotten cheaper and cheaper. You can find 160GB and 250GB external hard drives for less than $100 fairly easily.
Also, remember that Windows XP has a “compatibility mode” that you can use to fool programs into thinking they’re running on a different version of Windows. That may solve some problems.