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Digitial Initiatives: Data Rot

What is data rot?

Data degradation, also known as data decay or data rot, is a colloquial computing phrase for the gradual decay of storage media. It should not be confused with "bit rot", defined in the Jargon File as a jocular explanation for the degradation of a software program over time even if "nothing has changed".

Wikipedia. Data degradation. Retrieved from

CBS Sunday Morning: David Pogue on Data Rot


Krauss, K. (2011, August 6). When data disappears.  New York Times.  Retrieved from

* Pogue, D. (2009, March 26). Should you worry about data rot? New York Times. Retrieved from

Rothenberg, J. (1999, February 22).  Ensuring the longevity of digital information.  Retrieved from:

- On a related note, Rothenberg's website had broken links to the original article in Scientific American and the link I provided is to a latter, expanded version of the article.  In an ideal world, which do we preserve - both articles?  If so, how do we handle that - in one record or multiple?