bit rot


: the tendency for digital information to degrade or become unusable over time
I toured independent radio station CKUA and manager Brian Dunsmore showed me the banks of hard drives that contain the music. … Yet he admitted bit rot was an issue. The drives have to be kept moving, have to write and rewrite the information constantly or it would degrade. Postmedia Breaking News
Programmers are often good wordsmiths, and one of the better terms floating around today is bit rot: what happens when software that once worked well fails unexpectedly. Peter Wayner

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Word History

First Known Use

1998, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bit rot was in 1998

Dictionary Entries Near bit rot

Cite this Entry

“Bit rot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

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