Why Do We Still Need Microfilm?

January 4, 2018 9:12 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When you are tasked with storing data that will last not just years, not just decades, but for centuries, you can’t find a simpler, more effective, more reliable or more affordable solution than microfilm. In this post, we’ll explore some of the amazing characteristics of microfilm, and explain why it remains a popular and necessary storage medium—even in our digital age.

It provides a reliable backup

Most digital fail-safe systems do a good job at what they’re supposed to do. From year to year you can rest assured your data will be fine, so long as you back it up, and perhaps have a backup of the backup. But after 50 years, even with all your backups, how much of that data will remain? How about in 100 years? 500 years?

Microfilm is rugged enough to last well over 100 years, perhaps hundreds of years more, and it requires very little in the way of maintenance. Often, they are perfectly fine stored in cardboard boxes in storerooms and basements that lack any form of climate control. This reliability is unparalleled, especially when you consider the vast majority of the digital data we have thus far created has already been lost forever.

Microfilm is cheap!

Microfilm is cheaper to upkeep than digitized files. Over 50 years of storage, microfilm is less than half as expensive as storing the same data digitally, and that divide grows sharper over time. Microfilm is also far more space efficient than other physical storage mediums, such as paper—in fact, microfilm requires less than 1 percent of the space required for paper storage—and this means microfilm has a significantly lower storage costs over time. Microfilm equipment itself is also relatively inexpensive, and because it is simple, it lasts much longer than a computer does.

It’s an excellent part of a holistic storage strategy

Here’s how we think about the respective storage mediums. Paper is ideal when you need to distribute information that will be reviewed again and again in the short term, but then will pass out of use in relatively short order. Digital storage is excellent for images and data worth saving for the long term, and that will be accessed regularly in the short to medium term. The ease of collaboratively accessing and manipulating data remotely is obviously the chief strength of digital storage. Microfilm is excellent as storage for data worth keeping for the long haul, but that may only occasionally need to be accessed. This way, the data is always there, but it is not taking up too much space or burning too much energy.

It’s the only means of access for some documents

Though there is plenty of affordable microfilm equipment for digitizing microfilm, many of the documents and images on microfilm, especially on older microfilm, have never been digitized—and who knows if or when they ever will. For most people, it causes no great problem in their lives not to be able to access these documents. But for the people who need them for their research, were the world’s archives of microfilm to disappear, this would be an absolutely devastating case of cultural memory loss.

Learn more about microfilm equipment

If you are need of any microfilm equipment, whether you need a viewer or a scanner, we hope you’ll consider us here at Microfilm Equipment and Supplies Inc. We have a large selection of products, and are qualified to repair the products we sell. Explore our inventory online or give us a call today!

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