Digital storage is convenient, but risky

by | Mar 19, 2015 | Biz/Tech

Alex Drobin
Biz/Tech reporter


It’s hard to predict how far technology will progress over the next few decades, but at this rate it looks like there will be no Blu-ray disks, iPods or framed photos around people’s homes in the next 10 years.

These days, society stores everything on USB keys, SD (secure digital) cards, external hard drives and online services such as Facebook, Google Drive, or iCloud.

But what if Facebook shuts down abruptly, and all the memories you created with your friends suddenly vanish?

“That would be horrible. All of the photos that you took while being with your family and friends, or visiting different places would disappear,” said Mikki Singh, 25, Engineering student at Humber.

“You wouldn’t even be able to do anything about it because you can’t fight with a big company like Facebook,” he said.

The advancement of technology is such that kids who are born in 2015 will never know what a VHS tape, CD player, or a floppy disk is.

“One of the big problems with keeping all this digital information stored is the way that computers change so rapidly, media that you’ve stored it on may be unreadable simply because you may not have the hardware to read it,” said Kelly Gray, educational assistant at Humber’s  School of Applied Technology.

“Modern computers, for example, don’t come with a floppy disk drive, so any floppy disks that you have are pretty much garbage,” added Gray.

You can now get a USB key that has 10 times more storage than any CD, so even CD’s are harder to come by. Movies are now being streamed online, directly from your computer or tablet onto your TV. Photos are all stored on services like Facebook or Instagram, meaning that society is leaving the security of their logged memories on a website which always has the possibility of getting hacked or deleted.

“What happens when YouTube goes down?” said James Reid, Electrical Engineering Student at Humber. “A lot of bloggers put videos up on YouTube without even having a hard copy. If the site suddenly disappears, so does their work.”

The possibility of this sort of situation occurring is slim, according to experts, but the thought is still nerve-racking.

As technology continues to move ahead, there are bound to be more storage options available.

“All I can say is, whatever the next technology is, it will have more storage, at a cheaper price, and it will probably be physically smaller,” said Gray.

“Although USB keys are getting to the point now where if they get any smaller physically, they will be too small to handle and we will lose them,” he added.

So, how do you prevent digital memory loss?

“Every time a new technology comes out, make a copy of your work for that specific technology. Facebook is big now, but there’s no guarantee that five years from now they’ll still even be around. Save pictures and back them up,” said Gray.

Gray says that any work he produces he copies and backs up numerous times onto a USB key, his laptop, as well as an outside location.

“Another option is to store everything on your e-mail,” said Singh.