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Ask Slashdot: Storing Items In a Sealed Chest For 25 Years? 434

Posted by timothy
from the termites-not-encouraged dept.
New submitter accet87 writes "We are celebrating the Silver Jubilee of our graduation next month and have come up with an idea where we will build an air-tight chest in which each of us will deposit something and will open the chest only on our Golden Jubilee, i.e. after another 25 years. I want to understand what kind of items can be safely stored for 25 years and what kind of precautions are required to be taken. I am sure things like paper, non-ferrous metallic objects, wood, etc., will hold up well. What about data storage electronically? I don't think CD/DVDs, etc., will be usable. Even if the data is retained, reading it in 2037 may be a challenge."
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Ask Slashdot: Storing Items In a Sealed Chest For 25 Years?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:18AM (#40723937)

    On my first day of class of Junior High school, my Mother packed a lunch for me, which include a Thermos full of milk.

    I promptly threw it in my locker and forgot about it.

    On my last day of class, I was cleaning out the locker and found the abandoned Thermos. I brought it home unopened.

    My Mother made me take it out to the far end of the lot and open and empty it out there, which I did.

    The moral of the story: Don't put milk in your sealed chest!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd also like to add do not put a frozen turkey in your sealed chest.

      In my final year of high school, I took one from my parents freezer and placed it in a garbage bag. My friends and I found a locker which was bolted shut in an unused section of school and let it sit for a few weeks. Just before final exams, we carefully cut the bag open just before final exams. The smell was unbearable, and it permeated throughout the school so well that it took a few days for someone to locate it.

      For the love of god, don

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:18AM (#40723945)

    If I were storing stuff for a long time, I would consider using an airtight sealed case, oxygen absorber and a dessicant, making sure that if any liquid came out, it could not touch the protected device. I would separate out items just to be safe.

    Some items, like SD media, I'd also consider using anti-static packaging just for peace of mind as well.

    • by similar_name (1164087) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:37AM (#40724113)
      What should you put in a time capsule? Anything non-perishable that might mean something to you. Consider people recovering their time-capsules from 25 years ago. There might be a 5.25 floppy in there with someone's favorite childhood game. It may be difficult to play the game but the floppy disk's texture, smell, and label will bring back the memories. If you're going to store media you may find that in 25 years the data on it may be a pain in the ass to retrieve but the object itself will mean something. I also suggest media that you've used a lot. For example if you've been using a particular usb drive for the last year and it's time to upgrade put the old one in the capsule. 25 years from now the memories of using it are likely to bring you back more than the data that's on it.
      • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:50AM (#40724221)

        You don't have a 5 and 1/4 inch drive? :-o Put in the whole PC. I recently uncovered an old laptop at work with Windows 3.1 and it was fun playing with it again. (Mainly reinforcing what I already knew: Microsoft Windows prior to 95 and NT4 was complete garbage.)

        It will be fun to look at the old Windows XP or Vista OS and say, "Man things were primitive back then. Only 2 gig of RAM? How did they ever manage to run with so little?"

      • by Nyder (754090) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:12PM (#40724379) Journal

        What should you put in a time capsule? Anything non-perishable that might mean something to you. Consider people recovering their time-capsules from 25 years ago. There might be a 5.25 floppy in there with someone's favorite childhood game. It may be difficult to play the game but the floppy disk's texture, smell, and label will bring back the memories. If you're going to store media you may find that in 25 years the data on it may be a pain in the ass to retrieve but the object itself will mean something. I also suggest media that you've used a lot. For example if you've been using a particular usb drive for the last year and it's time to upgrade put the old one in the capsule. 25 years from now the memories of using it are likely to bring you back more than the data that's on it.

        I have picked up 25+ year old computer systems that work fine. Floppies that are that old, still retaining the info and working. And we are talking like sitting in an attic or garage or basement for many years. Not only do I and many others have systems that can read the info from 25+ years ago, i'm sure if you put stuff on CD/DVD's and maybe a thumbdrive, peeps will be able to get to it to check out.

        • I'm not saying you can't bring back the data I'm only suggesting that the object itself will bring back more memories. So if you include a laptop it should be one you used a lot. Maybe even your first one as that will likely mean more to you. If you go out and buy one solely for the purpose of retrieving data I think you'll find 25 years from now that the laptop gives you a sort of indirect nostalgia compared to a laptop you used frequently.

          I can play River Raid on Stella any time I want without having
        • by DrogMan (708650)
          I recently bought an old Apple II.. And tried out some of the 30+ year old 5.25" floppies I had in storage all these years (I've got 100's). Most of them still work!

          I'm suspecting that the bit-density is so low that it's hard for them not to work, but I was still plesantly surprised.

          Now all I need is an Apple II serial card so I can get some of the source code for stuff I write way back then off the floppies onto something else...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:39AM (#40724141)

      Acid-free archival paper should be good, even for photos. Look at what the manufacturer says - they mean serious business when they make these papers, real art will be put up in museums reproduced on them.

      As far as data goes, the fastest way is to yenc encode (like MIME/base64) it and print it out on said archival paper. It is possible you can get it transferred to microfilm but that's hard to OCR even nowadays. In 25 years, the yenc algorithms will still be around, and you can OCR and decode the data from the paper; if it consists of an executable it will probably not be a problem to run since we have x86 emulators as we are now, but you never know. libjpeg will still be around, libz, libpng, etc; if all else fails, describe the algorithm and data structure and print THAT out, it is much smaller than an executable. Then you can re-code the lost libz and decompress your data.

      If more data is that important to you, you have a few routes:

      You can make cassette tapes full of data like old computers used to do. Don't laugh. Just put a player in the "time capsule" too.

      You can store multiple redundant archival DVDs including QuickPAR files *along with a DVD drive using USB 3.0*. It may die due to permanent magnet weakening but other than that it'll almost definitely survive. It's true that they degrade with time but that is also usually with usage. It is likely that, if you can read them, they will retain enough information, along with the surviving QuickPAR chunks, to reconstitute one. Even better, since there is a push to archive things on DVD discs, it is possible that in 2037 there may be drives in some public center for people to come in and read their old archived discs.

      A small faraday cage will do miracles with other magnetic materials.

      But if you're going to all the trouble, why not just keep all this stuff with you for the next 25 years? :-D

      • by icebike (68054) * on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#40724705)

        Acid-free archival paper should be good, even for photos. Look at what the manufacturer says - they mean serious business when they make these papers, real art will be put up in museums reproduced on them.

        We are talking 25 years here.
        You don't need to be particularly worried about printed documents, even photos, over that short period.

        Go into any business that has been around for 30 or 40, or dig into some boxes in your attic or your parents attic, dig into the back of the file cabinets or storage boxes, and you will find documents much older than 25 years that are in perfect shape.

        Acid free paper is for 100 years plus, and has been the norm for off the shelf office paper since the 60s or earlier. True archival paper is Alkaline paper, which has a life expectancy of over 1,000 years for the best paper and 500 years for average grades.

        So for 25 years, no special precautions need be taken when using common commercial printing paper that you might buy at your local office supply store.

        Even Newspapers can be saved for 25 years by simply bagging them in plastic, but it might be better to access the newspaper's web site and print the desired articles on you laser printer using standard office paper.

        25 years is not that hard to do.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by papa248 (85646)
          Agreed. 25 years is no biggie. When I worked for Fitzimmons, we had blue prints for John Deere tractors going back to the 50s. (This was in 2008). Store *data* in a couple of formats, use high-quality CDs/DVDs, use a good thumb drive, and maybe even an SSD. Store all in a moisture barrier bag (check Uline) with dessicant, and seal. They are also ESD compliant. You'll be fine. I just had to buy a bunch of ICs* made in 1990 that were stored as such, and they work just fine.

          * I work for a contract electr
        • 25 years is not that hard to do.

          Absolutely. I've got boxes in the basement 40 years old with ball-point ink in cheap notebooks that are fine. At that age some of the newsprint is getting rather yellowed, but the ordinary paper and ink are okay. Carbon black pigment typical of monochrome laser printers on decent quality copy paper is probably good for at least a century if it's kept somewhere dark and dry.

          My problems with digital media over the years has mostly been a matter of finding equipment that c

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          25 years is not that hard to do.

          I disagree. Technology has changed and so has its limitations. 25 years ago there was a different printing standard than what we have today. We have many documents more than 25 years old in perfect shape. All of them either hand drawn, blueprints (back when blueprints were blueprints) or using some other form of chemical duplication process. They are in great shape.

          Now fast forward a bit. Our 10 year old documents are in horrendous shape. They suffer various problems depending on how they were made. Ink has

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Main thing with storing paper (I've got a lot of pre-computer-era paper archived too) is that you need to protect it from light and air (which includes moisture). If it's stacked and packed tight, only the edges and topsheets will deteriorate.

          Side note from the pen-and-ink set, especially ballpoints: Black and red inks usually spread and fade; blue inks generally do not, or at a far lesser rate.

      • by nospam007 (722110) * on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:11PM (#40724739)

        "Acid-free archival paper should be good, even for photos."

        I'm a railway man, and where I live all the official complaints books* in the stations date from 1946.
        *(where travelers can write their complaints in)
        They don't look brand new, especially around the corners, but they're still used 'til this very day.

        PS. People complained about the same stuff 60 years ago that they do now.
        'The company is criminal, the service terrible....'

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Storing data on some devices may be more reliable than others. E.g. on EPROMS may work, just provide information about how the data is stored.

      And if you look back - 25 years isn't that bad. But it's bad enough to see that we did change physical storage media formats and interface types a few times. Mid 80's saw 8" hard disks, 5.25" floppies, ST506/ST412 hard disk interfaces and CD-ROM:s. Those were replaced by 5.25" hard disks with IDE interfaces and 3.5" floppies. Then the USB bus appeared and we could see

      • I see internal connectors (IDE/SATA) being easier to come up with than external connectors (USB/firewire) after that much time. There's still plenty of motherboards with a single IDE connector on them, but eventually they may start breaking compatibility with older versions of USB. By 2037, we might be on USB 8.0 that's only backwards compatible with 5.0 and later and you won't be able to find anything that will connect with 3.0. However, they still might stick a single SATA-II compatible connector on some

        • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:30PM (#40724507) Homepage

          USB is pretty much everywhere these days, in your phone, your game console, in your MP3 player, in your harddrive, in your TV, maybe even in your toaster. In Europe there it's even part of law, as they want to get rid of all the custom phone chargers. For mouse and keyboards you don't need anything faster then USB1.0, so there is no need to upgrade, so I would expect that to be around for a pretty damn long time, especially given that right now there is nothing on a the horizon to replace it and even if, whatever will replace it will very likely be either compatible or can be made compatible with a cheap adapter, just like you can still get a serial port and an IDE apdopter for your computer today.

          The whole obsolete hardware craze is really a little overrated, as when it happened in the past, it was always with pretty damn obscure hardware. Of course not everybody has a machine around to read some old NASA tapes, so you will have trouble reading those in a few decades, but pretty damn near everybody has something around to read USB.

    • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:42PM (#40724897)

      I would consider using an airtight sealed case, oxygen absorber and a dessicant...

      "Stuff" will last longer in the absence of oxygen. Try to replace the air with an inert gas or nitrogen. This is common in food preservation as well where vacuum sealing alone isn't enough. Sometimes the shape of grains or seeds leaves too much space for air.

      What facilitates aging?
      - Oxygen
        - Remove oxygen
        - Make air tight
      - Water
        - Remove moisture
        - Make water tight
      - Light
        - Remove light sources ?
        - Make light tight
      - Excessive heat
        - Remove heat sources
        - Shield from heat
      - ...
      - ...
      - Time
        - Put in box and accelerate to near the speed of light

  • by busyqth (2566075) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:19AM (#40723949)
    Just load all of your photos, videos, data, etc onto a retina macbook pro and toss it in the case.
    Maybe by 2037 someone will have figured out how to change the battery.
    If so, you've got your data and you're good to go.
    • Best to remove the battery now - if you can't figure out how to do that, buy something that can be serviced instead.

      • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:52AM (#40724235) Journal

        Best to remove the battery now - if you can't figure out how to do that, buy something that can be serviced instead.

        why not use a device with a removable battery and include a charger? I'm sure we'll still be using the same power outlets in 2037, US AC plugs have not changed since electricity became common. At least if the battery explodes or leaks it doesn't corrupt the device and the charger should provide power even with a completely dead or missing battery.

        If including a charger is not possible, use any device that uses AA batteries. AA batteries have gone unchanged since they became a standard in 1947 [wikipedia.org] and they were in use long before becoming a standard. The also account for half of all battery sales, and with that many devices using AA batteries you can be sure standard AA batteries will be around for a long, long time.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Maybe by 2037 the Macbook will look like my remote after the batteries leaked all over the place. White corrosion everywhere.

    • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:37AM (#40724111)
      Or, for a cheaper alternative, one of those digital photo frames that can play video as well as display pictures. Most of them plug in and take standard memory cards. A tablet would probably also suffice, but I would opt for something that can take removable media independently and isn't limited to internal storage. Not sure it would work for the data archival, but it should work for the media at least...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:23AM (#40723993)

    No worries man, end of epoch isn't until 2038.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:23AM (#40723997)

    It's been over 30 years now, and as long as DVD or Bluray players still exist, the CD will still be readable. CDs aren't going anywhere. (Note I said CD not CD-R or CD-RW which are self-erasing when the dye fades.)

    VHS video will still be readable too (if necessary you can buy a used VCR from ebay in 2037). It's analog so even if it degrades it will still be watchable..... I know this from personal experience with 25-30 year old tapes.

    That's about it. I wouldn't trust hard drives or flash drives to still work 25 years from now. I have an HD that I left sit for just 2 years, and already it's sluggish as if it doesn't want to start spinning.

    • I'd think that a USB memory stick is a good bet for 25 years... kinda like RS232 ports, even if USB is passe', there will be conversion dongles for it for quite awhile.

      Flash memory 25 year longevity prognosis: good, spinning hard drives: not so much.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>Flash memory 25 year longevity prognosis: good,

        Then how come I keep reading articles about flash drives dying after only 2-3 years of use. Not just minor failures, but complete and utter loss of all data w/ no warning.

        • The read/write process is the main problem - if you don't network your time capsule it'll last longer. Personally I'm a little skeptical on the 25 year claim, but in general the more you use flash memory the quicker it will fail.
      • by Guppy (12314)

        Flash memory 25 year longevity prognosis: good, spinning hard drives: not so much.

        Flash memory storage relies on trapped charges which eventually dissipate over time (if not refreshed). While older flash memory might be ok, as cell sizes have shrunk (and the number of bits per cell increased), retention times have plummeted -- I've heard that manufacturer's quoted retention times for modern flash usually run in the 5 to 10 year range.

    • There is actually a CD format that is just called CD? I know for DVD you only get DVD+R, -R, RW, RAM, probably a few others.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        There is actually a CD format that is just called CD?

        He's referring to a standard non-writeable pressed CD.

        There's also these things...
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millenniata [wikipedia.org]

        The discs at least appear to live a long time. The only question is whether the technology will catch on enough.

      • by oxdas (2447598) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:02PM (#40724325)

        It is not a format. CD's (and DVD's) you buy in the store are not made the same way as CD's you burn at home. Professionally made CD's have the disk image physically pressed into the media, whereas with home burning a laser is discoloring a dye to produce the same effect. Unfortunately, the dye will eventually fade and the disk will become unreadable. So, CD's are not the same as CD-R or CD-RW and the same holds true for DVD's.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>There is actually a CD format that is just called CD?

        Yes the ones you buy in stores and are already *pressed* with music data. The keyword there is press, because they won't fade over time. Like records the recording is permanently etched in the disc.

    • That's about it. I wouldn't trust hard drives or flash drives to still work 25 years from now. I have an HD that I left sit for just 2 years, and already it's sluggish as if it doesn't want to start spinning.

      SD cards are solid state. They include no capacitors (the USB interfaces on flash drives, I can't say the same for). To my knowledge, semiconductors don't degrade. They're made out of sand, more or less. As long as the container is properly sealed with an oxygen-eating packet and is airtight... problem solved.

      • SD cards store the data in electric charge trapped in special types of transistors. This charge does leak over time at a very slow rate. The cheaper flash chips are only rated for a limited number of years without the data being accessed and recopied. These effects are temperature dependent, and I think 25 years isn't too long of a time period, but it isn't forever.

        • And this is one of the reasons I fear eBooks moving to eFormats Only. One day there will be no libraries. A single EMP could take out the entire collected knowledge of a certain time period in one go. (theoretically). Archaeologists of the future will wonder where all the 'amazing knowledge of the ancients vanished to.'
          • Makes me wonder just how many "Dark Ages" we've actually been through?

          • Yes but the power of eFormats could mean that in theory all books ever published could fit onto a single, or a small number, of portable reading devices. Just one of them stored in a faraday cage (a plain old iron box is all it takes, or the trunk of a car for some models of car, etc) and all of mankind's knowledge survives. MUCH harder to lose every copy of a particular book than there is with the library system.

      • SD cards are solid state. They include no capacitors

        If they don't include *any* capacitors, how do their memory cells retain their charge, huh?

      • Any data you put into a black box for 25 years has a significant chance of being gone when you open it. There are no off the shelf solutions for this. My best advice is encode the info and drop it on a Golden Record, or something else that is as 'permanent'. Only that kind of hard encoding will ensure the data is readable in 25 years.
      • by mk1004 (2488060)
        Semiconductors are made by diffusing impurities to make junctions for transistors and to create resistors. Diffusion is done at high temperatures. However, even at room temperature diffusion is still happening, even if it's very slow. So there is an upper limit to how long semiconductor devices can last--we're talking decades if not hundreds of years. There are other issues that could be shorter term, including but not limited to: metal migration, corrosion, both on die and on the interconnects, loss of pro
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      VHS video will still be readable too (if necessary you can buy a used VCR from ebay in 2037). It's analog so even if it degrades it will still be watchable..... I know this from personal experience with 25-30 year old tapes.

      Buy the VCR and throw it in the box as well .. that way you are guaranteed to have a VCR when the box is open.

      25 years is an awful long time for most electronics to remain available. So why not ease the burden and include all the devices which can then be donated to the computer museum after you have had your fun opening the box!

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Actually -RW typically employs phase-changing crystal, you can't un-burn dye to re-record after all. As such it's pretty stable, far better for long-term storage than the write-once variants.

    • In my experience, magnetic tape will start to stick together if you don't use it for a long time. I once tried playing back an open-reel tape that had been lying around for 10 years. Even a Studer PR99 (with 3 drive motors at several hundred W each) had trouble peeling the tape from the reel, and afterwards I had to clean the machine as the tape had dumped half of its magnetic layer as dust.

      Same thing with audio cassettes, my deck has trouble fast-forwarding those and can't keep the tape at nominal speed wh

  • Hermetic Seals (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamscottevil (714259) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:24AM (#40723999)
    Be careful about your hermetic seals, water leakage has turned many time capsules into a soggy brown liquid. I suggest some silica gel (the kind you shouldn't eat) to absorb any latent water in the air when you seal it so you don't get condesation. Anything you seal inside should either be readable by normal human means or include the reader. Avoid batteries or other volatile chemicals as they will leak. Burned CDs are really just like polaroid photographs and fade in about 15 years on the outset depending on the burn speed and qualities of the dyes. Include black and white photos or 3 color separations so that it is easy to put back together. Same goes for 3d photos, the future is likely to use more stereo photography so take a picture with 2 cameras next to each other of the same type. I use two iphones and tap the shutters simultanously a few times to see if I can get a match. Make sure you deposit the item in a place unlikely to face future development or it will just be shoveled up onto a trash pile. There's a start, but think long term. A lot can happen in a quarter century. LONGNOW DOT ORG
    • Wait, there's a kind of silica gel that you should eat? Does it taste like soylent green? I love that stuff

  • Just for kicks, I pulled out a floppy with some files on it from 1987 ( My resume was short back then! ). I had no problems reading the files. However, I could not run any 16 bit programs ( I found a copy of Norton SI -- I was wondering what the speed index on my Core i7 would be ).
    • by causality (777677)

      Just for kicks, I pulled out a floppy with some files on it from 1987 ( My resume was short back then! ). I had no problems reading the files. However, I could not run any 16 bit programs ( I found a copy of Norton SI -- I was wondering what the speed index on my Core i7 would be ).

      Try using DosBox [dosbox.com]. It's an emulator so it'll work on modern hardware.

  • by crow (16139) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:29AM (#40724057) Homepage Journal

    I have some 5.25" floppy disks that are over 30 years old, and I can still read them. I also have some that don't work, but most are fine. We're just hitting the point where it's hard to find PCs that will read 25-year-old 3.5" floppies (but good luck with an 800K Mac floppy).

    In an air-tight container with no light exposure, I would expect a CD or DVD to be just fine after 25 years, and I would expect that you would still be able to find older computers that could read them.

    Your best be for electronic data would probably be a USB flash stick. While the USB standard will evolve, if it goes to something incompatible, there will be plenty of conversion dongles.

    Also, a USB flash stick would be a good representation of portable storage.

    Or just put the data in "the cloud" and write the URL down on a piece of paper. I'm sure that will work. :)

    • USB sticks are NOT FOR LONG TERM STORAGE. They are vessels to carry data short term. In no way are they considered archival.
    • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:05PM (#40724339) Journal

      Why store the data in only one format? Why not put one copy on USB Flash, one copy on DVD-R and possibly one copy on some other flash with a different interface like SD?

      Unless its allot of data this should be fairly cheap and odds are good that at least one of the three mediums will survive and you will have tools to read it easily. Watch your file formats too, i'd stick with lowest common denominator very standard stuff like jpg images, mpeg2video (main mode) with either ac3 or mp2 audio for videos, and mp3 for just audio.

  • Perhaps now would be a good time to point out that solid-state media can hold many times that of optical media for equivalent or lower costs. A 32 GB flash drive costs around $1 per GB these days. For another $30, you can buy a pico computer capable of HDMI output. The display may be a problem; You will need to bury your capsule to a depth of about 8 feet (if memory serves) to prevent it from freezing. It will then maintain a temperature of about 50 degrees.

    Electricity hasn't changed at all in the last 50

  • Even if no one uses the same physical media as we do now, and even if no one uses the same file formats, storing an entire PC is likely to solve the problem. You can get a small, inexpensive PC for cheap - a couple hundred dollar atom-based machine should do the trick - and throw a large amount of storage in it. I'm fairly certain that standard power connectors will still be available 30 years from now. VGA connectors may not be, so think about storing a small monitor in there as well (someone else can s

    • by Vahokif (1292866)
      This seems like a good idea. Just stash a netbook with some kind of USB storage/reader and a charger. Even if power sockets have inexplicably vanished or changed they're probably the easiest thing to recreate. I don't know how much information degrades on different media, you should probably research that.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I helped setup a "time capsule" back in 1985 for my college's centennial celebration, we expect to open the capsule in 2035. I hope to be alive when it happens, because I put some items in there. We placed lots of plastic, wood, paper, and metal objects in the capsule. For paper products,we treated each piece of paper with a mild basic solution that neutralizes the sulfur compounds used in the paper production so that the paper doesn't yellow and deteriorate. For wood, we only allowed solid pieces, and

  • Oil Barrel (Score:5, Funny)

    by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:38AM (#40724127)

    What about an oil barrel?
    You'll need it in 2037!
    Plus, you could sell it for a few thousand dollars and buy vintage stuff from 2012 :D

  • Paper (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:38AM (#40724135)

    paper has been around for a LONG time. There is even paper that is made to last long. Bit more expensive, but it will last much longer.
    For 25, just use normal paper. Write whatever you want. e.g. how you feel about people, politics, the future, your state of mind. Write about your dreams and your thoughts of now.

    Once you have printed it, seal it in plastic. You can put a LOT of information on it and it will be very personal as well.

  • People who store food for long periods either often put nitrogen in, co2 in, or throw iron sachets in that eat the oxygen. The CO2 might join any moisture to make a weak acid and the iron can eat so much oxygen as to create a small vacuum that just pulls in air anyway. So a toot of nitrogen is probably best. Compared to oxygen nitrogen is basically inert. But an iron sachet wouldn't hurt on top of the nitrogen as it will eat any oxygen that leaks in.

    The other key will be variety. If you use a technology
  • From personal experience, I can vouch that Apple II floppy disks hold up over 25 years!
  • /me takes dusty 1995 Linux CD-R that we wrote off shelf, and puts it in:

    dg@major:/media/CDROM$ ls -l
    total 575
    dr-xr-sr-x 3 dg dg 69632 Jul 12 1995 bitmaps
    dr-xr-sr-x 2 dg dg 2048 Jul 5 1995 ddd
    -r--r--r-- 1 dg dg 441397 Jul 18 1995 DirList.180795
    dr-xr-sr-x 13 dg dg 6144 Jul 18 1995 documentation
    dr-xr-sr-x 2 dg dg 4096 Jul 10 1995 ELF-GCC
    dr-xr-sr-x 10 dg dg 2048 Jul 11 1995 emulators
    dr-xr-sr-x 2 dg dg 2048 Jul 5 1995 fvwm
    dr-xr-sr-x 2 dg dg 18432 Jul 10 1995 gnu
    dr-xr-sr-x 11 dg dg

    • by fa2k (881632)

      Check for read errors, .. .

      find /media/CDROM -type f -exec cat \; >/dev/null

      or something. CDs have a large amount of redundancy, but maybe it's degraded sufficiently

      • Check for read errors, ...

        find /media/CDROM -type f -exec cat \; >/dev/null

        or something. CDs have a large amount of redundancy, but maybe it's degraded sufficiently

        If you have read access to the block device (ie. root or group read access), an even faster method:

        dd if=/dev/scd0 of=/dev/null bs=1024k

        (or equivalent CD block device; check with 'mount | grep cdrom' after you've mounted the CD filesystem).

        This does a full linear block-level read from the CD device and avoids the seeking that would b

        • by prestwich (123353)

          Well, not too bad,

          dg@major:~$ dd if=/dev/sr0 of=/dev/null bs=1024k
          dd: reading `/dev/sr0': Input/output error
          580+1 records in
          580+1 records out
          608698368 bytes (609 MB) copied, 179.877 s, 3.4 MB/s

          [32062.556698] sr 1:0:0:0: [sr0] Unhandled sense code
          [32062.556704] sr 1:0:0:0: [sr0]
          [32062.556707] Result: hostbyte=DID_OK driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
          [32062.556710] sr 1:0:0:0: [sr0]
          [32062.556712] Sense Key : Medium Error [current]
          [32062.556717] sr 1:0:0:0: [sr0]
          [32062.556720] Add. Sense: Unrecovered read error
          [32062.556

  • Whatever format you choose to use, CD, DVD, blue-ray, harddisk, VHS tape... Seal a playback device along with it. Remove the batteries, even the tiny button cells packed inside the circuit boards, if possible. They might corrode and leak and damage the circuits. Record what all you have taken out and the specs in good quality paper, so that you could restore them. 25 years from now, either the 110 V electricity supply and a service industry to restore the play back devices will still be available, May be st
    • Typo: meant to type now ended up typing not, confusing the last sentence. Not that my English was great to begin with, this is too stupid even for me.
  • That'll never go down or anything- just password protect the file and then don't open it until then. It'll be the worlds first Cloud based Time Capsule! Epic!!! Duuude!! EPIC!!!

  • by John.P.Jones (601028) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:46AM (#40724199)

    Instead of storing data in the box directly, where you then rely on media retaining viability over 25 years you could always strongly encrypt the data you would like to logically store in the box and then write (or etch in stone, whatever) the decryption key and store that human readable quantity of data in the box and then maintain the cipher-text outside the box in a redundant distributed fashion over multiple generations of media. Of course I fail to see what the advantage of keeping the data secret over the time period would obtain, and it prevents transcoding to new file formats, so I'd just suggest keeping copies of the data as you would any data you want to have in 25 years (not locked in a box).

    You see, physical objects are placed into a time capsule because they would normally deteriorate and not be archived properly if they weren't removed from the harsh existence of everyday life. Data however doesn't work like that, neglect is the biggest problem and hence a time capsule is not a good means of preserving data the way it is for preserving objects.

  • Throw in a couple of Twinkies and the aura will keep everything fresh for 100 years.
  • All of the above. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nationless (2123580) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:52AM (#40724237)

    Make it a science project.

    Put identical data on one of every type of storage technology and see which survives. In 25 years you will have a very interesting case study while being nostalgic about the data storage media used back when you were young.

    If they all fail then laugh at how silly you were all those years ago and how you should have done x instead.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:54AM (#40724243)

    I use it for everything I need to store; backups of tax returns, keeps veggies crisp for decades, and turns incompetent employees into wonderful conversation pieces.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:58AM (#40724275)

    It is not a trivial request to ask how to make things survive a 25 year isolated containment, even if you solder or weld the outer container shut and it stays sealed.

    Batteries, capacitors, wood, paint, plastics, bugs in the wood, polymer coatings can all outgas. Some plastics naturally keep changing very slowly as their molecular cross linking changes and plasticizers move to the surface.

    Those outgassing chemicals can wind up interacting, or corroding if you wish, the other item's materials and you don't get what you think you will in 25 years.

    If you actually put a battery in their you can get other reactions occurring very slowly as the battery discharges. Don't forget that many electronics use a milliamp or so to keep some functions ON all the time, even though the devices is supposed to be turned off. Batteries are notorious for having their liquids eventually leaking out.

    When you handle all the items, getting ready to load the time capsule, there are going to be all sorts of finger oils and millions of bacteria that are on each piece you put in the container, plus what is on the inside of the container and its seal materials. Some bacteria are anaerobic, so just because there is no Oxygen (if you load the capsule with Nitrogen), doesn't mean there won't be live bacteria in there.

    Lastly, if your container is totally sealed and outgassing raised the internal pressure, then chemical reactions can occur more rapidly.

  • I did some temp work at a document storage warehouse repacking some damaged file boxes. One thing I learned is that rubber bands have a useful life of about two years. After about five years, all rubber and elastic bands had failed, and worst of all, after about eight years, the remnants of rubber bands had all turned into a permanent solid glue. Lesson learned: no rubber bands allowed for long-term storage.

  • by he-sk (103163)

    You know, in case the apocalypse happens in the next 25 years, you'll have something to eat when you open your time capsule.

    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16852830 [bbc.co.uk]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The cake should last edible for a 100 years, if it's made correctly.

  • They're practically indestructable.

  • by NEDHead (1651195) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:28PM (#40724485)

    Take everything you want included as information (as opposed to toys, etc) and incorporate in into a book. Send a copy to the Library of Congress, and let them deal with the maintenance. Include a stone tablet in the box with the ISBN number chiseled into it so you can find the book when the box is opened.

  • by bmo (77928) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:47PM (#40724625)

    Stone (everyone)
    Intaglio bronze plates (Romans, especially for Senate documents)
    Clay tablets (Babylonians)
    Parchment (Everyone)
    Acid free rag paper (Chinese and later the europeans)
    Linen - required in many town halls for registered surveys and plats (last hundred years)
    Mylar - also required for many town halls for registered surveys (ever since the invention of mylar drawing media).

    We have clay tablets from thousands of years ago.
    We have parchment documents from hundreds of years ago
    We have paper documents from hundreds of years ago
    Linen became popular when it was machine made - it is extremely durable and will last hundreds of years if given even minimal care.
    Mylar can last thousands of years even after being abused.

    One of the most indestructible and compact ways of storing data is punched mylar tape. It can be dumped in a bucket of oil in the shop, wiped off, and sent through the reader. It's simple to make a reader too. Herman Hollerith would have understood immediately how to read punched mylar tape had he been alive to see it. Mylar is also very stable, and not prone to rot. I would like to see the look on a wandering novice monk's face in a few thousand years unearthing an earthenware container packed with dessicant and spools of mylar and all of it entirely readable mechanically or electronically with simple tools.

    It would be a new twist on the Sacred Shopping List.

    And here we're merely talking about 25 years. Even a paperback written on fast-yellowing paper will survive that, given an airtight and light tight container and a pack or two of silica gel. Photographs on archival paper would be good. Microfiche would be excellent. Anything on an acid-free paper. Basically anything that can be read mechanically or optically including QR codes printed out on acid free paper with good ink.

    Things to not store for 25 years and expect to be able to read: Any electronic format that depends on a proprietary reader in a proprietary format. That is *guaranteed* bit rot.

    --
    BMO

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:56PM (#40724673) Homepage

    The elephant in the room that nobody is discussing... what's your container going to be made of? How are you going to seal it and keep it sealed? These are non-trivial questions. Containers react with the materials inside and corrode both inside and out. Seals dry out. Etc... etc...

    There's a lot more to this than just the items inside. The container has to maintain its integrity too.

  • by drkim (1559875) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:17PM (#40724771)

    1. Keep it low tech:
    Assuming you graduated college at 21, you'll be around 71, you won't be that interested in figuring out high-tech stuff. It won't be long until the tech we have now is obsolete, because the rate of change continues to accelerate. Try finding a punch card reader these days.
    Print stuff out on paper, regular paper works fine for only 25 years. Add a desiccant, and pump in nitrogen or argon if you can.

    2. Redundancy:
    Many of you will be dead and many will have lost their memory.
    Print out a copy for everyone. Everybody gets one. Store in metal boxes clearly labeled on the outside so you don't have to keep opening it to see what it is.

    3. Locators:
    Include a list of everybody who gets a box in the box. Include personal identifiers (full names, DOBs) so you can track people down on the Internet (or whatever it is called 25 years from now.)

    You may find 25 years from now that there are already records or copies of whatever you put in the box* but the greatest treasure will be locating your old buddies.

    *Most people who open time capsules find old newspapers. The exact same newspapers which are also in storage in the newspaper office down the street. Probably when you open your box in 25 years you can find everything you put inside still on eBay.

    Good luck!

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