As technology advances at an ever-faster rate the prospect of previously popular formats becoming obsolete is growing all the time and the readability of corporate data in the future is a growing concern.
Already files produced in Word Perfect or Lotus 123, movie clips and photographs stored in the .MOV format and information stored on floppy disks are in real danger of becoming unreadable in the near future.
Now a survey amongst IT decision makers has unveiled the real size of the problem for British business.
The survey showed that nearly three in five IT decision makers believe it is vital to keep corporate data records secure for more than 50 years. However, more than 9 in 10 directors say they are concerned about their business not being able to access or read corporate data in the long term.
Furthermore, only 35 per cent of IT decision makers say they regularly review the formats on which their electronic data is held and nearly a fifth of IT decision makers say they don’t have systems in place to preserve electronic information stored for more than five years.
Dominic Johnstone, Head of Information Management Services, Crown Records Management, said: “These results provide a real insight into a compelling topic for all businesses now and in the near future.
“Long term digital preservation hasn’t made big headlines so far but many companies may be in for a shock because the reality is that any information which is 10 years old or more is seriously at risk.
“The speed at which software and hardware evolves is forcing old formats to quickly become obsolete and there is no guarantee they will be readable in future.”
Johnstone is aware that many businesses simply store their information in the cloud in the belief it is safe; but they frequently don’t consider how, or if, it will be read in 10 or 20 years’ time.
He said: “It’s not surprising that cloud storage is so popular, it’s a relatively cheap and safe way to store information. But if the attached systems are not upgraded regularly and there is no lifecycle management in place there really is no guarantee all that information can be accessed and read when you really need it.
“Only a third of IT decision makers in our survey said they regularly review formats on which their electronic data is held. The big worry is that many of them may find their corporate information is lost in the long term.”