Good point Lotek_style . Things are now better, I think, although far from ideal.
Maybe this is not best place for some general preservation discussion, but there is no such section here in forum, and Atarimania is still most active site in that matter, so I will say some things, probably not for first time.
We all agree about need for preservation, but not in what is best way for that, and what ways to follow.
Some claim that only faithful copies of original are worth of deal, what resulted in
Pasti project and partial solution (emulators only), and it is not finished, some protections are still not supported, or not properly imaged. There was branch of writeable to floppy solutions, with specialised HW (Catweasel ?), but it never spread, and as I know writing of STX images to floppies was not solved really.
Few years ago 2 floppy imaging/copy projects started, using new approach, what I would call: image entire floppy in detail. Of course, copy protections were what dictated need for large images (going up to some 50 MB per floppy) . This is still work in progress, but already much more advanced and covering more of protections than Pasti. Only way for those who want to run exact copies of originals from floppy drive on real HW .
Third way, what is of course not real preservation is using cracks. It is still very popular, despite possible bad cracks, corrupted images and overall mess with them.
And fourth way, what I prefer is transferring it to mass storage, what includes copy protection removal - as we don't want any floppy access.
Every approach (way) has it's good and bad sides.
Pasti is good because all you need is Atari ST(E) in good shape for imaging originals. Image sizes are small in compare to other, prot. imagings.
Support in emulators is however limited - only Steem, and soon Hatari (but without org. specs, sources). Very limited HW floppy emulator support. And it seems that we will not see much improvements with it. There may be some hacks for some protections supported, and that would be all, I guess.
SCP and Kryoflux is still under development, and HW floppy emulation support is much better as I know, than in case of Pasti . Downside is that Kryoflux is not for spreading images from some obscure copyright reasons, need for special equipment, and of course worst thing: floppy drives and disks - which are now really troublesome, and it will just be worse and worse.
Cracks are result in many cases as challenge, and to show that "I can do it", and of course as way to earn some money, although it is not popular to say now. Maybe crackers self did not make money, but there were sellers in big number, who cared only about money. Bad side is risk that crack is bad, incomplete, corrupted. Some original txt. or graphic may be replaced by cracker/pirate crap - what automatically discards it as preservation even by minimal standards. Packing is used a lot, what resulted in many cases in slow loading because slow depackers. But, and as good side there is almost everything available in that form. So, titles not available in true preservation formats. Some may like that multiple games fit on 1 floppy, but I think that today it matters not much.
Hard disk way: it requires more work than cracking, and there is more risk that it may have problems on some configs, or problems on later levels. But usage is most comfortable - no need for floppy/image swaps , loading is faster, and there is often snapshot function to save progress at any time.
Reliability of above ways: truth is that none is 100% reliable . Pasti problems are now pretty well known, others are work in progress, so may expect that all protections will be resolved. But Pasti has big advantage in number of titles imaged, and question is how much will be imaged in advanced formats in remaining ~10 years - after what, I think, imaging will be almost impossible.
And that leads us to problems with originals self: there are bugs in games, TOS version problems and similar. Some bad releases with corrupted files. Like Iron Lord, Tetra Quest . Hard disk adaptations may be with fixed such problems + made to work on Falcon, TT .
So, I think that anyone's taste can be satisfied, and that things go better gradually (except condition of floppies) .
What we really lack is some overview about all this, and database with user experiences about specific releases.
Famous Schrodinger's cat hypothetical experiment says that cat is dead or alive until we open box and see condition of poor animal, which deserved better logic. Cat is always in some certain state - regardless from is observer able or not to see what the state is.