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1. the process of rotting or the state of being rotten
2. something decomposed, disintegrated, or degenerate
3. short for dry rot
4. Pathol any putrefactive decomposition of tissues
5. Vet science a contagious fungal disease of the feet of sheep characterized by inflammation, swelling, a foul-smelling discharge, and lameness
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
Any plant disease characterized by breakdown and decay of plant tissue.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Decomposition in wood by fungi and other microorganisms; reduces its strength, density, and hardness. Also see brown rot, white rot.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
bit rotBit rot, also called "format rot," is the inability to access digital data because the file format is obsolete and compatible applications no longer exist to read it. Digital files placed in archival storage are expected to last indefinitely and might not be retrieved until years later. Information saved on obsolete removable media is problematic. Magnetic tape drives are not available for all the myriad formats of the past. In addition, computers no longer come with floppy drives. However, as of 2020, inexpensive floppy drives are available that can be plugged into a PC via the USB port.
The Solution to Digital File Rot
One way to prevent archival bit rot is to be aware of format changes. Whenever a file format has been updated, the application that reads them will also be updated. Within a few years, users should open important documents and save them in the new format. For example, the original .DOC file format created by Microsoft Word in the 1980s became a legacy format after the new .DOCX format debuted in 2007. Because billions of .DOC files exist in the world, Microsoft has continued to support the old format in all subsequent versions of Word, at least for now. However, lesser known products may not provide such extended support. Fortunately, major format changes do not occur frequently. See data rot and software rot.
data rotThe slow deterioration of storage media until the data are no longer readable. Magnetic media are the most susceptible to data rot as their magnetic orientation deteriorates over time. Even solid state and optical media can decay over time. See bit rot and software rot.
link rotInvalid hyperlinks on the Web. The more years go by, the more link rot because pages are moved to new locations or deleted. See dead link, 404 error, link consistency and Web rage.
software rotThe gradual decline in performance of an application in the computer. Software rot may manifest as slow execution or erratic behavior. Also called "software erosion," "bit rot" and "code rot," it generally occurs for two reasons. The first is bad software design in which the program's own configuration files can become corrupted after extended use. Deleting such files or re-installing the app may solve the problem. The second reason is incompatibility with the environment. Occasionally, a new version of the operating system can cause existing applications to fail or degrade, in which case upgrading the app, if possible, is typically the only solution.
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