Critically Endangered small

Materials saved to flash or other solid-state 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 five 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


USB sticks and pen drives; Flash storage in cameras and phones; certain types of portable hard disk

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Poor physical storage; inability to access readers; no replication; encryption

‘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.  Solid state media – typically flash – provides very fast access to data but can fail without warning.  This is because it is typically subject to a limited number of program/erase cycles, as well as ‘read/disturb’ effects. Storage at scale also means the percentage likelihood of failure increases. 

Additional Jury Comments

Early generations of media and cheap giveaways are not robust and can deteriorate significantly over time.

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