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LTO tapes, Maxell in this case, are often marketed as having 30 years or more shelf life when stored under "optimal conditions"

Is there a way to get a good estimation to the shelf life, given parameters such as relative humidity and temperature etc?

Obsolescence of the tapes aside, is there a way of determining the impact to shelf life of any deviance from the optimal. In other words how many years are lost when storing say 1 degree above the specified range?



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Best check with the tape manufacturers. I can't imagine why you think we might know more that those who make and test them. – John Gardeniers Mar 25 '10 at 11:50
@John Gardeniers - The manufacturer may indeed be the best source for this information, but there's nothing wrong with asking here. E.g. someone may have a link to a great study on the topic. – Kara Marfia Mar 25 '10 at 12:38

In my experience about 40% of our tapes were unreadable after just 5 years of being kept in normal room conditions and not regularly being run through a tape drive. Also build up on the tapes meant that in order to go through our collection and save the data that was left, cleaning tapes were required far more often than normal and the drives needed to be opened up and manually cleaned several times.

You have to bear in mind that the manufacturers claims are based on simulated aging so may not be accurate in the first place, and if your storage conditions are even slightly worse than 'optimal' it could make a huge difference.

So if you are planning to archive on any media, especially tape it is important to monitor the state of your data otherwise you are going to be in for a shock when you attempt to go back and use it.

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