One of the big problems with the constant advances in technology is keeping up with the growing list of media formats. If you’re like us, you’ve got old CDs, DVDs, hard disks and maybe even the occasional floppy disk or Zip drive lying around, all containing some data on them from way back. And the problem is ten times as bad for companies.
Paperbak is a free open source program which lets you archive your precious files as bitmap images which you print out on paper. Yes paper. The software works by encoding the data in the files as a bitmap image which can be created by any normal 600dpi laser printer. The program can compress up to 3 MB of code per A4 page, which is surprisingly good going.
If you’re asking why, then think about this. How many times have you gone to retrieve some data on an old tape, disk or floppy drive, only to find that it was degraded beyond recovery? Of course there was no way to tell until you actually started trying to restore the information. Now if it was on paper, you could immediately see whether the paper was torn, worn or otherwise damaged before you started.
To restore the data, you’ll need to run the bits of paper through a 900dpi scanner (real not interpolated!). The image will need to be greyscale too, it will work with color, but the size will be tripled which is a waste. This is fascinating stuff…as the author says, why not send files to developing countries by post, rather than try to digitally send them across slow Internet lines?