Saturday, March 14, 2015

The data loss argument for free software

When I was in high school, I experienced the abject pain of data loss. I owned a hard disk. I put things I cared about on the hard disk. The hard disk died. I had no backup. I (mostly) learned my lesson. I haven't experienced data loss of that scale (gigabytes) since.

Recently, I encountered a different kind of data loss-like experience. Some of my data was made with Cakewalk SONAR, a proprietary Windows program that has its own binary data format for some of the data. In an effort to keep a tidy house, I got rid of my old Windows XP computer, leaving me without the ability to easily open my old SONAR files. It's not strictly data loss. I still have all the bytes and I could, relatively easily, get a Windows computer and install SONAR. Honestly, the data isn't that important to me.

Closed proprietary data formats are a data-loss risk. Or at least, if they are not as popular as Microsoft Word.