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Best Long Term Storage Medium?

Old 04-30-06, 02:27 PM
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Best Long Term Storage Medium?

I have about 75GBs of MP3s, jpg., and other media files. I currently have everything backed up on a 120GB Western Digitial (external) hard drive. My concern is that I'm not sure whether this external HD will serve my needs for long-term storage needs (10, 20, 30 years)? How long does an external HD typically last? I have a CD burner, but that would require me to burn 80-90 discs. I don't have a DVD burner, but would consider getting one. However, back up of files would likely be the only thing I would use it for, and I'm reluctant to purchase one just for that purpose. Is there a medium I can use where I can just back it up, stick it in a drawer and fahget about it? Lastly, once my external HD gets filled, is it okay to store it somewhere for months/years as a reliable source of backup?

Last edited by Jack Straw; 04-30-06 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 04-30-06, 02:34 PM
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CD or DVD is the way to go and certainly the cheapest.

You can't count on a backup hard drive to fire up in 10 or 20 years. Not to mention there might not be the same interface for it to be connected to your computer at that time.

Look for a deal on a decent DVD burner. Very good ones are available for around $35-40. Topline DVD media generally only costs about 25-30 each. Burn two copies of each backup.
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Old 04-30-06, 02:38 PM
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Can a DVD burner also burn CDs? Or would I have to install a whole new drive?
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Old 04-30-06, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Straw
Can a DVD burner also burn CDs? Or would I have to install a whole new drive?
Yes, they can burn CDs.
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Old 04-30-06, 02:41 PM
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for that long, I'd probably wait for whenever they have hd/blu ray dvd burners for computers.

But yeah, a dvd burner is great for backups and yes it can burn cds too.
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Old 04-30-06, 02:54 PM
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Thanks. I'm pretty fanatical about not losing crap that I've spent countless hours discovering and d/l off the net.
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Old 04-30-06, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Straw
Thanks. I'm pretty fanatical about not losing crap that I've spent countless hours discovering and d/l off the net.
I can understand the losing data aspect of a hard drive failure etc... I has just purchased a External enclosure to put my WD 80GB drive into and it fried it apparently. It refuses to work on another computer

Anyone have that freezer trick to revive the hard drive?
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Old 04-30-06, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by X
CD or DVD is the way to go and certainly the cheapest.

You can't count on a backup hard drive to fire up in 10 or 20 years. Not to mention there might not be the same interface for it to be connected to your computer at that time.

Look for a deal on a decent DVD burner. Very good ones are available for around $35-40. Topline DVD media generally only costs about 25-30 each. Burn two copies of each backup.

Isn't optical media not meant to last more than 10 years? I'm thinking a backup tape drive might be the best way to go.
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Old 04-30-06, 03:45 PM
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I think high quality optical media is supposed to last at least 30 years, maybe 50-100. High quality tape media, such as DLT is supposed to be about 30 years. But DLT is pretty expensive for home use and you'd need to be able to get (or be able to use) a tape drive in the future when you need it. Most people would use DDS which is still fairly expensive but not anywhere near DLT.

Magnetic tape has a tendency to lose charge and crosstalks into adjacent layers. Not to mention all the bad stuff that can happen to it physically, especially if it's not stored in a strictly controlled environment.

I have tons of old tape backups that I'd like to move to DVD for that reason. It would be quite a job though.

To extend the life of your backups you could copy them to fresh media every 10 years or so. That would be very easy with DVDs.
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Old 04-30-06, 04:27 PM
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For some reason, I am finding it hard to believe that you will access the same media files in 10 years. I think there will be better technology with a better medium to listen to it than mp3.
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Old 04-30-06, 07:10 PM
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Yep, I think it's safer to backup your backups to newer media as it becomes feasible (cost & sizewise).
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Old 04-30-06, 09:25 PM
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I use 3 external hard drives; I just plug in a different one every week or so, and backup my data to it. I do realize that some day hard drive interfaces will be different, at which point I'll do something similar with whatever new format is most common.
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Old 05-02-06, 07:34 PM
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also I would get discs like the TDK scratch-proof dvd's
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817131113
They cost a bit more but I have heard that you can write on the data side with a sharpie and scratch it off with a brillo pad and the disc will still work.
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Old 05-02-06, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Straw
Thanks. I'm pretty fanatical about not losing crap that I've spent countless hours discovering and d/l off the net.
I've lost countless multimedia files after multiple computer crashes and other failures.

losing an mp3 is something that doesn't really bother me.

losing Gigabytes worth of photos that I have taken over the last couple years ago bothers me BIG TIME.
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Old 05-20-06, 12:43 PM
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Just to follow up, I installed a Sony DVD-R drive and have backed up my hard drive files onto disc. Should the external drive I have ever crap out, then I'll make a 2nd set of back up discs. Can hold about 7 discs of CD-R data onto one DVD-R disc. Pretty awesome! Thanks for the advice.
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Old 05-20-06, 12:51 PM
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The idea is to make a second copy of the discs right now in case your drive craps out and there's a problem with one of the first set of discs. It wouldn't hurt to use another brand media in case one brand doesn't last as long.

It's also best to store the second set off-premises in case of fire or whatever.
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Old 05-20-06, 01:27 PM
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X - For me to lose something, I'd have to have a failure on my PC's hard drive, Western Digital external HD, and my DVD disc. The probability of all 3 of those events happening is so low, I'm comfortable enough in not making a second set of back up discs, which would be a 4th set of storage. Additionally, I have a large percentage of my music stored on the CDs I bought. I appreciate your input though.

Last edited by Jack Straw; 05-20-06 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 05-20-06, 03:24 PM
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Ok, don't listen to the voice of experience.

Just to make you paranoid... What if you have your external drive hooked up to your computer and a virus trashes your files or drives. You're left solely relying on the single set of DVDs you burned. For the little effort I would make a second copy of those things you don't have another copy of, such as jpegs. Music from your CDs you can always recreate.

I back my music (.wav files) up on a second hard drive but that's it because I can always recopy it. But digital pictures always go on two pieces of removable media because they can't be reproduced.

And of course if you're storing all the backups in one place, something like a fire or earthquake could wipe out everything.
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Old 05-20-06, 05:47 PM
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I'll store my backup discs in a Sentry fireproof safe.
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