Updating files and security tends to be important for most businesses as new technology means better security. Any upgrade can be cumbersome of course, requiring upgrades to equipment and more. There’s a reason the U.S. Missile Command still uses floppy disks from the 1970s: They work, and are safe. Of course, the modern business is not keeping nuclear launch codes sitting around their offices, and legacy files might need to be transported to new systems. Let’s look at a few specific in-the-home and at-work examples, where converting files and upgrading technology can be safer and easier to work with than relying on legacy technology.
One of the best examples of updating files and technology is the change from analog to digital. Old records can easily be converted to audio files. VHS has gone the way of the dinosaur, while DVDs and USB drives reign. What about obscure formats?
Thankfully, even old MiniDV tapes from camcorders can be transferred to modern digital storage. MiniDV tapes recorded in high quality, but as they were a step between old analog tapes and pure digital files, MiniDVs were uniquely susceptible to digital corruption—audio loss and moderate to severe pixelation. Preserving them can be highly important for videos taken during the time of transition between the formats. Much like VHS, they rely on magnetic tape, which will eventually degrade.
Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records (EHRs) were once physical documents kept in hanging folders, contained in giant room-sized filing cabinets. While some medical practices still use this method, many are changing to a digital format. As Duquesne University points out, switching to digital makes the records “more easily accessible, harder to lose, and simpler to share.”
The sharing part is important, as it easily enables patients to travel and have their records sent to a new doctor within seconds. Plus, with big data, their records can be cross-referenced, while predictive analysis and modeling can provide early diagnosis. With paper records digitized, they are more secure, and a computer sees more subtle early warning signs than a doctor.
Your phone might already try to convert voicemails to text using a transcription algorithm, but it can be hit or miss. The applications for this technology are wide-ranging. Someone who might not be able to write can still take notes down. A journalist can focus on listening instead of writing and not have to transcribe an interview later.
While these programs can work for converting actual speech to text, a more interesting application is converting old audio files to text. Old speeches can be preserved in text without someone needing to sit down and listen to the entire dialogue. Transcription takes time, and history should be preserved. Much like converting videos from analog to digital, it’s a way to preserve the past for future generations.
As an aside, there are other interesting (if somewhat sinister) applications for converting audio files, as well. Audio clips can be turned into video clips, essentially lip-syncing audio to video. It can make the video of, say, a former president say something he did not actually say.
Whether it’s to upgrade security or just to take advantage of newer technology, you will need to update your equipment. The infrastructure, itself, must be up to task, with new computers and servers often required.
If you are adding quite a bit of old video, as in the earlier example, you need a place for it to be stored. That might mean new converters to adapt old power supplies to new equipment. A lot of work goes into updating equipment to handle converting older formats, but it is better to do it sooner than later lest the old files or formats degrade, are lost, or are accidentally deleted.
Going back to the original example of the nuclear missile site that still uses floppy disks, the major question to ask before upgrading is whether repairing or replacing will be most useful. Generally, if you are spending more on repairing old equipment, or there’s newer, better file formats that offer improved security or ease of use, it’s likely time to replace.
On the other hand, if the floppy disks are a secure, if-it-isn’t-broke way to keep a highly sensitive system going, it’s better to just repair.
Converting files and updating equipment to match is needed in every industry, and at home, in order to preserve old information. It might be file folders with legacy information needed to occasionally make references, or could be current information that needs to be taken into the digital age. Equipment also must be updated to take advantage of new file formats, and in some cases, may need bigger storage space for large files like videos. Infrastructure for storage is just as important as the actual files. Both can increase security, from the file format to the type of computer being used to store the information. However, in a few specific cases, it may be better to simply repair old systems to keep information secure and constantly running—or at least prevent an accidental missile launch.