What do I do with dead media and old discs?
July 17, 2006 1:12 PM   Subscribe

The tyranny of data: what should I do with dead media and old data?

I've just moved and am trying to boldly face the clutter which came with me. This includes a significant amount of 3.5" floppy discs and zip discs (oh, and some 5.25" floppies -- they're so cute!). I have a zip drive but I don't think it will work on this fancy-pants Mac laptop I have, nor am I sure that I want it to. As a former internet content producer and web freelancer, I've got lots and lots of discs marked Company Logos, Silly Ancient Website for Small Business, Photoshop Images, Pagemaker (!) Files, etc. Not to mention three (PC) hard drives from who knows which machines and who know what's on them.

There are a few which are marked as containing family photos which I should try to view and reclaim somehow. But, what about the rest? What do you all do with all this old media, stuff you'll never look at. This stuff might be pretty fun to show around the old folks' home someday (Lookit this here craaazy markup!) but my husband is going to kill me if I try to squirrel these away as some sort of memento. Because, that would be nuts, right?
posted by amanda to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)

Drill holes through storage you don't want others using.

No, I do not work for Bosch(tm).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:19 PM on July 17, 2006

posted by quadrinary at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Greendisk.com will recycle them for you.
posted by matildaben at 1:25 PM on July 17, 2006

Best answer: If you have any desire to hold on to the data, find the means to transfer them to a DVD (or other high-capacity storage media) for longer-term storage. Copy this DVD every few years to ensure the DVD remains uncorrupt. However, if the thought of the effort required to do so scares you, take it as a sign to throw them away.
Of course, make sure that you won't need this data in the future. Don't know if you'll need it or not? Transfer onto a DVD. It's not like they take up a lot of space or money.
posted by Meagan at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2006

I'm not sure you'd be crazy to save the 5-1/4" disks. They're sort of in the same boat as records: tons of people have probably never even seen one.

As far as getting stuff off of old hard drives, I saw a neat device that has USB on one end, and an IDE ribbon cable on the other. (Here's one, and another. I've never tried either, FWIW.)

If you're never going to access the data and it's on outdated media (ie, not a 200 GB hard drive you could re-use), I vote for just chucking the unimportant stuff. If you're feeling ambitious, though, you could probably copy it all over.
posted by fogster at 1:31 PM on July 17, 2006

Best answer: I regularly throw out tons of un- or ambiguously- marked CDs and DVDs.
It's a great feeling.
posted by signal at 1:41 PM on July 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

Bury it. You should never destroy data. Instead, pass it on to the future.
posted by nixerman at 1:48 PM on July 17, 2006

I use All Image to backup floppies that are software before pitching said floppies. Push everything up to MAM-A (used to be Mitsui) Gold Archive CDs and DVDs. I'm getting rid of about three hundred floppies that way.

You can use par2 files if you're really concerned about data integrity. I'll be moving those CDs and DVDs up to Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, whichever wins the format wars eventually.

Come up with a good way to structure your data that is reasonable for you. I tend to dump a lot of things by the job I worked, for example.
posted by adipocere at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2006

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