This is my point of view too. I believe that if you've got sufficient redundancy (good backup system), these things (loose all emails/files etc.) should absolutely not happen.One reason for not trusting electronic means of storage is for long term stuff, as the medium may no longer be supported.
My guess is that, in a few years... paper won't be supported anymore.
I agree with some your points, of course. That would be a great subject for another entire huge thread... Preservation and transmission of digital info is a fairly active field of research ; in arts, for instance, it poses a significant challenges (some work of art depend on obsolete media...). (I studied that, a bit...)
To simplify the matter extremely
, my take is that in general, for the typical computer user, overcoming this problem is mostly a question of keeping up with technology (as much as possible -- feasible nowadays as technology tends to be cheaper and cheaper), and transfer data as soon as another medium becomes mainstream
and cheap (that's usually referred as "refreshing/copying" in the preservation/transmission of digital info research field) and as the previous one starts to become obsolete. (Some past formats are not that easy to transfer : analog recordings, video tapes (VHS...), etc.. This is in part due to the fact that "we" -- human beings -- were a bit less sensitive and aware of that transmission problem 20 years ago than what we are now, and mostly also because digital coding was not yet mainstream.)
One has to keep track of what data is where and centralize it as much as possible to facilitate backup and migration. Then he/she shouldn't loose anything significant. I never did (well... nowadays there's the metadata problems, etc. But if one is careful, it shouldn't be to much of a problem). Well... i think so...
(5" disks... yeah... Aren't there any
readers still around)
Migration poses challenge, certainly. But what's worse? slightly different formatting of a (very readable) word document, or a letter you forgot you had because, well, it's in a box, buried under other boxes -- it's basically lost. Inaccessible info is lost info, right? With a computer , it takes maybe a few seconds to find it, even if the format is not perfect. And your hands are not even dirty.
There are so many different articles on that matter : here's one
that I remembered reading a while ago. Interesting.