Long term storage of digital video

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by CMelton, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. CMelton macrumors regular


    Dec 8, 2008
    London, UK
    OK, I'm afraid there is a bit of an introduction to this question but I'll try and keep it short.

    My Great Aunt has in her possession a large quantity of cine film as well as a number of projectors (family heirlooms) dating from roughly 1935. She has had all of these films converted to DVD in order to make them more accessible to the rest of the family.

    She wants to know about the best way of storing them for the future so that the next generation(s) can see them at some point.

    Because of the way they were converted they are on DVDs (I do not have access to the original data file) that will degrade over time and this could cause a problem. She has asked me to make digital copies of them, which I am happy to do using a combination of MTR and HandBrake so that they are more "future proof", but before I do this I want to ask about storage of digital media.

    1) Which format should I convert them into so that they don't become obselete (which formats are more likely to become obsolete in the next 50 years?) - I know it isn't possible to accurately say but any advice would be appreciated.

    2) Should I store the data in multiple formats just to be safe?

    3) What should I store the data on?
    a) A USB flash drive?
    b) A "traditional" (not flash) hard drive? - if so external or internal (no case) ?
    c) A flash hard drive?
    d) Memory cards i.e. SD, MicroSD, Pro Duo etc.?
    e) Other - if so please specify
    f) Online Storage?
    g) A combination of the above answers?

    4) What kind of environment should I store the above mentioned hardware in? Waterproof sealed container? Airtight? In an opaque box to avoid sunlight damage to the components? Other?

    5) How many copies should I make? Obviously more than one!

    6) What about storage of the original films? - I am at a complete loss with this one.

    7) Any other advice?

    Thank you so much in advance for any advice. I want to get this right so my paranoid aunt will trust that I know what I'm doing! lol

  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    I don't know about video formats but one thing I do know is that Delkin produce gold archival blu-ray discs guaranteed for 200 years. About US$26 each for a 25Gb disc. They also come in 5 disc packs and 25 disc spindles.

    I was thinking of buying some in a year or two's time to archive some extremely valuable data, instead of going through burned DVDs or CDs every 2-3 years or so to copy data onto new media.

    If you don't go for something like this and still want to use optical media, look for Taiyo Yuden media if possible. Don't use no-brand media. I've also had best long-term results with Sony, TDK and Verbatim media burned at slow speeds and stored in the dark away from moisture and temperature changes. Dessicants like silica gel sachets are useful to store with the disks. No need to store them in airtight containers otherwise you can get moisture buildup.

  3. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Tape is a pretty good archival media. What format are the original data files? If they are DV you could print them out to miniDV tape. If some other format you could use data tape, like DLT, LTO or even DAT.

    But no codec, format or media is guaranteed future-proof, and you will likely have to transfer and convert at some point in the future. And in that respect hard drives are not such a bad bet. Data tape drives are pricey and hard drives are cheap and easy-access. Treat them well (take them for a spin every now and again without overdoing it) and they can last well.

    Flash may be an option soon, but right now it's expensive if you want a lot of gigabytage, and obviously comes in far smaller denominations than hard drives or data tape.

    Keep two copies (three if you're a worrier) in different locations. How/where to keep them will depend on the chosen media, but generally you want to keep away from magnets, lead, granite, moisture and excessive hot/cold.
  4. Macpropro80 macrumors 6502

    Jan 31, 2009
  5. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    I'm sure the OP's great aunt will be familiar with the term. ;)

    For fifty years, best to go for media without any moving parts that doesn't need to be hooked up to a computer. Just as Blu-ray drives read CDs including audio CDs, that's twenty years of optical disk technology covered just there in the identical media form.

    Regardless of whichever laser or technology it uses, I would bet that the 12cm optical disk still has at least another 2-3 decade's life of relatively simple means of accessing its contents.
  6. Mister Three macrumors newbie

    Mister Three

    May 20, 2008
    Leeds Uk
    Kodak Professional


    on just one point Kodak make a 'professional dvd'. It's more expensive (of course) and it's gold coloured and guaranteed for 100 years. I've just produced a documentary for the nhs that has gone into a time capsule for 60 years. I had to choose something and in the end chose this. I'll let you know in 2068 if 1. I'm still around and 2. if it worked!!! They probably won't have dvd players then.

    Keep it on as many formats as possible is the simple answer I imagine. Then make copies of all of those formats on a rotational basis for the rest of your life, updating as and when to the latest format - mind ray or illusiocast or whatever it will be. Then pass on the pleasurable duty to somebody else in your family. As you add to the collection it will become a great family tradition perhaps? As for the original film you should seek specialist advice on this as the best way is probably in an utterly climate controlled sealed volt underground. I keep mine on a shelf.


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