Climate Control Issues

The Digital Dilemma

Many people fail to realize that computer media is not permanent. Things like tape backups, CD-ROMs and other media last only about five to eight years if they are not stored in the proper environmental conditions. Microfilm is also susceptible to damage from improper storage environments. Temperature and humidity need to be precisely controlled for diazo and silver halide film and they should be isolated from each other as well as from computer media or other source material that may produce gasses that result in degradation and cause redox blemishing.

  • Digital media breaks down in 5 to 8 years if not protected properly.
  • Concrete vaults destroy digital media when high temperatures force steam into the vault chamber.

It is important to understand that in these times, there is a need for contextual protection in addition to protection of the information in its entirety. In terms of the possible legal consequences, the loss of even a part of your business information due to improper storage could be damaging, to say nothing of the reproduction costs associated with returning your digital information to a useable condition.

Unfortunately, these issues are compounded by the fact that even businesses that understand the need to protect their data mistakenly assume that concrete vaults that protect paper documents will also protect digital media. This just is not the case. In a fire, a concrete vault will fill with steam as a result of the breakdown in the cement bond in the concrete, meaning the atmosphere inside of the vault will reach 212°F and 100% relative humidity. While such conditions may be acceptable for paper, digital media is damaged at temperatures greater than 125°F and relative humidity above 80%.

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