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 five years old.

Group: Portable Media

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

No change No Change

Previous classification: Critically Endangered


Trend in 2022:


No change No Change


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment in one year.

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, zip drives.

‘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

2021 Jury Review

The 2019 Jury introduced this entry to ensure that the range of media storage is properly assessed and presented. Portable magnetic media is 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. The 2021 Jury agreed with the entry’s assigned risk classification with no noted changes towards increased or reduced risk.

Additional Jury Comments

We know what to do with this type of material, it is the scale that makes it a problem

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 the backward compatibility of popular and even relatively recent LTO versions.

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