Data Formats and Accessibility in the future

Just finish your weekly backup? Great! I love that warm fuzzy feeling knowing that my data’s safe. I have one question for you: Will your data be accessible 5 years from now? How about a 1 year or after the next hard drive crash? Silly question? Maybe not.

Recently I decided to go back and check my old tax files. Yes, I had backed them up, however in the tax program’s file format. Suddenly I realized that I would need the tax program from 4 years ago in order to be able to open up that file. I had the file right in front of me but I could not access it. Luckily I still had the software cd kicking around in a box but what if I didn’t. The file would be useless.

Do you still have that old Wordperfect file? How about the software? Or maybe that accounting file from 2001 isn’t a 100% compatible with the most current software version. With yearly updates for most software titles your particular program will be vastly different in just a few years.

So what’s the solution? Keep your old software even if you have the latest version. Convert files to current versions but keep the original unconverted files as well. Not only is it important backup those data files but also, in some cases, the original software program as well.

As for that old tax return, I installed the 2004 software and printed out a hard copy. Sometimes when it comes to having a backup you just can’t beat paper.

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