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The Digital Dilemma

Digital Tape Stack

Even in this digital age, many people fail to realize that computer media is not permanent. Things like CD-ROMs, tape backups, and portable hard drives last only about five to eight years if they are not stored in the proper environmental conditions, and companies are often legally obligated to keep their records for much longer than that. Losing information to spoliation in only a few years surely will damage, if not destroy, the health and vitality of your organization. Based on recent courtroom decisions, such loss of records could result in devastating, long-term legal problems.

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 critical 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 backup data mistakenly assume that concrete vaults that protect paper documents will also protect digital media. This is just 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%.

Many businesses fail to understand that in current practice 93% of all records are created digitally, and only 30% are printed to paper at all.


Since 1982, FIRELOCK® has been the world’s leading manufacturer of media-rated modular vault chambers. Unlike poured-in-place concrete vaults, FIRELOCK® vaults are constructed from individual panels, filled with a heat-resistant ceramic material, and they are lightweight, movable, and expandable. When combined with current high-density storage systems, FIRELOCK® vaults offer extremely high space efficiency at a considerable cost advantage per cubic foot of storage. The value of assets stored in FIRELOCK® vaults today reaches hundreds of billions of dollars and ranges from priceless animation cells and World Wrestling Entertainment videos to pharmaceutical research records and U.S. Department of Education student loan information.

With a FIRELOCK® vault, you invest in the highest-performing vault on the market today to ensure the protection of your most vital records and irreplaceable items. You gain the ability to store microfilm, computer mediafile servers, and paper in one location, as well as the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all the environmental- and fire-protection elements are in place.