Archiving Documents in Ontario: Why Convert Digital Documents to Microfilm? (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by admin on Dec 26, 2011 9:04:00 PM


Archiving documents in Ontario can take many forms. Paper documents can be digitized to PDF formats. Digital data can be stored on CDs, DVD, flash drives and magnetic tape. And, all forms of documents can be transferred to microfilm. Microfilming provides an excellent disaster recovery strategy that more and more companies are using.

To compare microfilm to digital methods for archiving documents in Ontario, it’s important to look at the various methods for digital storage. Microfilming basically provides one method. However, digital storage can be accomplished by using hard disks, CDs, DVDs, flash drives and magnetic tapes. Each of these formats has pros and cons.

When considering these digital archival methods compared to microfilming, the major difference involves their longevity. We’ve already noted microfilm can last upwards of 500 years. So what’s the likely life of the digital formats for archiving documents in Ontario?

Magnetic tape archival methods can last around 20 years. This format is being used extensively still today. Another frequently used format is optical media (CD/DVD’s) but many people would be surprised to learn the life expectancy of these medias are on;y 7-9 years.

Additionally, the technology must be available to read them well into the future. As we have seen with older storage formats like the 5 ¼” floppy, you won’t always have access to a computer that can read them.

Flash drives may also last a longer time like a CD. However, they contain a lot of moving parts and are more susceptible to breaking down. Relying on data contained within a flash drive for the next 100 years is not very reassuring. The bottom line with digital formats used for archiving documents in Ontario is there’s not much experience with them lasting decades.

Digital technology is relatively new and it’s changing all the time. We just can’t be assured the documents we store digitally will be available 100’s of years from now. If a government agency or business must ensure reliable access for this type of time span, then microfilming is the best archiving choice today. Microfilming can bring you the necessary peace-of-mind for archiving documents in Ontario.


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