Critically Endangered small

Materials saved to floppy disks, tape, portable hard disks or other magnetic storage devices where the media is out of warranty and reader devices may no longer be supported or integrated easily into hardware infrastructure: typically more than fives years old.

Group: Portable Media

Trend: New Entry

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment is in 12 months

Significance of Loss

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

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, including the development of new preservation tools or techniques


Floppy disks; tape; certain kinds of portable hard disks, zipdrives.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Poor storage; inability to access readers; no replication; encryption; aggressive compression

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Active management; dependable access to readers; strong documentation; documentation independent from the media

2019 Review

The judges have introduced this entry to ensure that the range of media storage is properly assessed and presented.  Portable magnetic media was ubiquitous but is fragile not just to physical wear and tear but also to magnetic interference and bit-rot.  The substrates of the disks can prove unstable and in some cases proprietary reader technology means that the disk becomes obsolete before it degrades. Storage at scale also means the percentage likelihood of failure increases

Additional Jury Comments

There is really no excuse for using floppy disks for storage these days.  Tape is a different proposition since it allows high-density back up offline and nearline.  But there are challenges with backwards compatibility of popular and even relatively recent LTO versions.

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