Adventures in DVD archiving

As the amount of data I have to keep up with grows (personal data, business documents, and client's work), my need to keep track of a large body of data over long periods of time has grown. While my backup server I constructed back in 2008 has worked wonderfully for making sure all my current work is protected from drive failure. The mirrored raid has quickly filled with old copies of projects that I don't need to access on a regular basis. The thought of permanently deleting those projects just sends shivers up my spine. What happens when someone comes to me and says "remember when we did that project three years ago, well I want to do something like that again." I don't remember what details where in that project, and I'll need to have a copy that I can go back to and get inspiration and references from.

The obvious solution I've heard many recommend is, "get an online storage solution." After some research however, many of these plans have limited storage or limited access on a monthly basis. I can't be tied down by those limitations, and storing close to a terabyte of data in the cloud using a monthly subscription is still extremely costly.

So how does one create an offline collection of old work that is still secure over the course of many years? At first I though that just throwing a hard drive in the closet would work. Nope. Hard drives are notorious for not spinning up after about three years. And at the rate at which tech changes, who knows if I'll even have a computer that can access the data on them.

My solution? The DVD. DVDs can store an adequate amount of data for archiving key components of a project. And the best part is, they can last upwards of twenty years!

But, as it turns out, not all DVD media is created equal. The life of a burned DVD is dependent on the quality of optical dye that is used to manufacture the disk. Many commonly available brands of DVD media are manufactured using cheap dyes that severely reduce the reliability of these discs as long term storage options.

So which is the best brand to put your junk on? Turns out that there is a company in Japan that is wholly dedicated to producing the end-all be-all top of the line DVD media. That brand is Tiayo Yuden. Untill the past three years this brand has been relatively difficult to come by, only being available through select online retailers. However, after being acquired by JVC the Japanese made discs have become more available. To my good fortune one of my local pro audio/video outlets has even started stocking authentic Tiayo Yuden discs!

After burning close to 100 discs, without a single un-readable disc, I am sold. Although the real test will be when I pop a disc in after five or so years, but for now, I feel confident that my archives are safe.

Much of my information for this post was gathered through this page: How to Choose CD/DVD Archival Media, a must read for anyone interested in storing offline data for long periods of time.