Critically Endangered small

Materials saved to storage devices with a variety of underlying magnetic or solid-state technologies that are hardwired into a computer that is no longer under warranty or supported: typically hard disks more than five years old.

Group: Integrated Storage

Trend: New Entry

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a small effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the deployment of proven preservation tools or techniques


Disks installed into computers or servers that are more than fives years old, or out of warranty

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of replication; poor storage; non-standard connections or controllers; aggressive compression; encryption

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Maintenance schedule; renewable extendable warranty; best practice storage and operation; replication

2019 Review

The judges have introduced this entry to ensure that the range of media storage is properly assessed and presented.  The lifecycles of most consumer hard disk technology is stable in comparison to portable devices because they are integrated into systems and therefore inherit the lifecycle and replacement of the entire system.  This is less true at scale however where disks are used in storage arrays and refreshment is more loosely tied to the server architecture.  Storage at scale also means the percentage likelihood of finding a disk failure increases.

Additional Jury Comments

Perversely the greater density of newer disks, as well as encryption and compression mean that they can be more fragile than older disks with less density and less sophisticated read/write technologies.  The age of a disk is not the best or only indicator of its reliability.

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