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Encyclopedia > Bit rot

Bit rot is a colloquial computing term used either to describe gradual decay of storage media or to facetiously describe the spontaneous degradation of a software program over time. The latter use of the term implies that software can literally wear out or rust like a physical tool. More commonly, bit rot refers to the decay of physical storage mediums. Originally, the word computing was synonymous with counting and calculating, and a science that deals with the original sense of computing mathematical calculations. ... Computer software (or simply software) refers to one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of a computer for some purpose. ... A blacksmith removing rust with sand prior to welding Rust damage in automobiles can create hidden dangers. ...

Contents


Decay of Storage Media

Bit rot is often defined as the event in which the small electric charge of a bit in memory disperses, possibly altering program code.


Bit rot can also be used to describe the very real phenomenon of data stored in EPROMs gradually decaying over the duration of many years, or in the decay of data stored on CD or DVD disks or other types of consumer storage. EPROM. The small quartz window admits UV light during erasure. ... The Compact Disc logo was inspired by that of the previous Compact Cassette. ... DVD (also known as Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc) is an optical disc storage media format that can be used for data storage, including movies with high video and sound quality. ...


The cause of bit rot varies depending on the medium. Floppy disk and magnetic tape storage may experience bit rot as bits lose magnetic orientation. In CDs and DVDs the breakdown of the material onto which the data is stored may cause bit rot. This can be mitigated by storing disks in a dark, cool location with low humidity. Archival quality disks are also available. Old punch cards may experience a more literal form of bit rot, as the paper onto which the programs are stored begins to rot. A 3. ... Compact audio cassette Magnetic tape is a non-volatile storage medium consisting of a magnetic coating on a thin plastic strip. ... The punch card (or Hollerith card) is a recording medium for holding information for use by automated data processing machines. ...


Bit rot is also used to describe the discredited idea [1] that a computer's memory may occasionally be altered by cosmic rays. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Cosmic rays can loosely be defined as energetic particles originating outside of the Earth. ...


Problems with older software

Main article: Software rot

When a program that has been running correctly for an extended time suddenly malfunctions for no apparent reason, programmers often jokingly attribute the failure to bit rot. Such an effect may be due to a memory leak or other nonobvious software bug. Many times, although there is no obvious change in the program's operating environment, a subtle difference has occurred that is triggering a latent software error. Software Rot, also known as Software Decay comes in two forms; Dormant Rot. ... A memory leak is a particular kind of unnecessary memory consumption by a computer program, where the program fails to release memory that is no longer needed. ... A computer bug is an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program that prevents it from working as intended, or produces an incorrect result. ...


Other uses of the term

Rarely, bit rot is referred to as the process by which data becomes inaccessible due to the lack of working devices to read old data storage formats. (For example, a game stored on a floppy disk may be referred to as having succumbed to bit rot if the user no longer possesses a floppy disk drive to read the disk).


However the most common use of the term "Bit Rot" is the slowing of performance of a PC over time from continued use. This is mostly apparent with Microsoft Windows PCs where the accumulation of old data on a hard drive seems to impede the performance of that OS. Many issues are the cause of this from installing and later uninstalling software that still leaves traces behind, defragment data, as well as issues like spyware, viruses, and malicious code that performs actions controlled by a remote user (zombies).


There are many ways to keep your system from succumbing to bit rot, but usually involves reinstalling windows.


See also

Link rot is the process by which links on a website gradually become irrelevant or broken as time goes on, because websites that they link to disappear, change their content or redirect to new locations. ... Software Rot, also known as Software Decay comes in two forms; Dormant Rot. ...

References

  1. ^ http://www.nap.edu/openbook/0309054451/html/93.html "Intel-Memories and the Microprocessor", Gordon E. Moore, 1996

External link

  • "Bit rot" from the Hacker's Dictionary

  Results from FactBites:
 
bit rot: Information From Answers.com (440 words)
Bit rot is a colloquial computing term used either to describe gradual decay of storage media or to facetiously describe the spontaneous degradation of a software program over time.
Bit rot is often defined as the event in which the small electric charge of a bit in memory disperses, possibly altering program code.
Bit rot can also be used to describe the very real phenomenon of data stored in EPROMs gradually decaying over the duration of many years, or in the decay of data stored on CD or DVD disks or other types of consumer storage.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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