Measuring the Cost of Reliability in Archival Systems

Appeared in Proceeding of the Conference on Mass Storage Systems and Technologies (MSST '20).


Archival systems provide reliable and cost-effective data storage over a long period of time.  Existing technologies offer familiar and well-defined features, but uncertainties about future developments complicate decisions about selecting the best storage technology that will continue to scale in the future.  Furthermore, inaccurate assumptions about the long-term reliability of each storage technology can result in the use of suboptimal storage technologies for an archival system or the unwanted loss of data.  Prospective storage technologies like archival glass and synthetic DNA may deliver much greater capacity and reliability than do existing technologies, yet their availability and exact features remain uncertain.  As each storage technology develops and changes over time, its reliability may also change and give rise to further uncertainties about the long-term cost of highly reliable archival systems.  We present results of simulations that explore the effects of various technology developments upon the cost of constructing archival systems that meet various levels of reliability against data loss.  We show that storage density more than device reliability dominates the cost of constructing and maintaining reliable archival storage systems, and innovations to increase storage density---even at the expense of individual device reliability---can reduce total archival system cost.  We also explore the advantages of prospective over existing archival storage technologies, and we present estimates of the extent to which their availability will affect the cost of long-term data storage.


Publication date:
October 2020

James Byron
Darrell D. E. Long
Ethan L. Miller

Storage Class Memories
Archival Storage

Available media

Full paper text: PDF

Bibtex entry

  author       = {James Byron and Darrell D. E. Long and Ethan L. Miller},
  title        = {Measuring the Cost of Reliability in Archival Systems},
  booktitle    = {Proceeding of the Conference on Mass Storage Systems and Technologies (MSST '20)},
  month        = oct,
  year         = {2020},
Last modified 2 Nov 2020