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Short lives of CDs/DVDs
Old 05-14-2014, 10:08 AM   #1
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Short lives of CDs/DVDs

I know of several people who have stored valuable-to-them information on CDs and DVDs with the expectation of longevity, who are unaware of how transient those media really are.

The Library of Congress Wants to Destroy Your Old CDs (For Science) - Adrienne LaFrance - The Atlantic

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Old 05-14-2014, 10:40 AM   #2
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Interesting article. Didn't realize they were so subject to degradation; especially the manufactured/recorded discs.

What's funny is that as a woodworker I made a pretty nice hutch for our 32" Sony TV years ago, we know how useful that piece is now. To solve the storage problem of hundreds of CD's I did a very nice cherry cabinet with dovetailed drawers that perfectly fit CD's. So now I guess it's just a burial vault in which the CD's can degrade! Admit that once burned to the computer they never come out, and cannot recall last time I bought an actual CD. Ah, progress. And no, I'm no going back to vinyl! My ears cannot tell the difference!
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:45 AM   #3
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This has been known by the industry from the beginning of the technology. The alternatives were deemed too costly for the targeted use case.
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:55 AM   #4
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I've been putting off converting my VHS tapes to DVD. Now I'm not so certain I should hurry!

I'm surprised the referenced article didn't mention how the Library of Congress archives important recordings (as a comparison). Sure, they digitally record everything they can considered important. They document this recording with "meta-data" to hopefully give instructions to the future generations as to how it should be decoded, since things change. (Can you read your old Wordstar, visicalc or lotus 1-2-3 files?)

But they also recognize that digital recordings can be lost quite easily, and perhaps the meta-data instructions will fail to be recognized in 1000 years.

So, they have a process whereby they record the very most important recordings to a durable analog media that should be simply playable in the future with basic instructions. Basically, they use 1940s technology and lay down grooves in some very durable media, I forgot exactly what substance. The process is similar to cutting wax, but of course the media is much more durable. It is all very fascinating that they are taking Lady Gaga, for example, and cutting a record not too differently than they would in 1949.
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:03 PM   #5
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I've been putting off converting my VHS tapes to DVD. Now I'm not so certain I should hurry! ...
Your VHS tapes are degrading - you absolutely should hurry to convert them!

However, don't bother converting to DVD, convert to an external hard drive. Make a back-up or two or three. Every 5 years, copy from one of the back ups to a freshly formatted drive. Once that has been verified, reformat the backups, one at a time, and re-copy to those.

The copy process will detect errors in the process, so you are assured your copies are good. A fresh digital copy will be as good as the original. Hard drives can also degrade over time, 5 years is probably a reasonable time frame to 're-fresh' everything.

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Old 05-14-2014, 01:07 PM   #6
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However, don't bother converting to DVD, convert to an external hard drive. Make a back-up or two or three. Every 5 years, copy from one of the back ups to a freshly formatted drive. Once that has been verified, reformat the backups, one at a time, and re-copy to those.
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This is what we are doing - skipping DVDs completely.

We've collected much of the old family 8mm/super8 films from DW's childhood.

I'm also scanning all the old family photos. That job should be done by about 2020...
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:15 PM   #7
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This is what we are doing - skipping DVDs completely.

We've collected much of the old family 8mm/super8 films from DW's childhood.

I'm also scanning all the old family photos. That job should be done by about 2020...
+1 Also going down "memory lane" - a long road and a little wheel.
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Old 05-14-2014, 01:40 PM   #8
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After Trombone Al's thread on getting rid of some CDs and DVDs for minimalization reasons, I reduced my stack of both to almost none. What I need is on my portable external hard drive with extra copies on the hard drives of both computers. Looking at that tiny stack of CDs and DVDs, if all of them vaporized I probably would just shrug my shoulders and think, "So what".

So, I am well prepared for the end of CDs and DVDs. I would not have felt this way had I not gone through them recently.

I don't have any VHS tapes any more at all and haven't for years and years. I got rid of my VHS tape player years ago too. I no longer have any floppy disks either.

Everything is on hard drives. If they become obsolete, I'll be in trouble. If that happened I would probably have any cherished or important photos and documents printed out and get rid of the rest. Paper never seems to become obsolete.
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Old 05-14-2014, 11:38 PM   #9
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It is a commentary on modern technology to observe that to date no one has yet invented a data storage medium more durable than carving in stone.
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:18 AM   #10
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Even stones wear away over time.

Reasonably frequent copying is the best approach to data storage.
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Old 05-15-2014, 06:52 AM   #11
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In addition to putting them on hard drives, also store copies in the "cloud" (aka internet storage providers). The prices have been falling and it is worth paying the money for large amounts of storage to ensure longevity.
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Old 05-15-2014, 09:45 AM   #12
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It is a commentary on modern technology to observe that to date no one has yet invented a data storage medium more durable than carving in stone.
But we keep trying.
Believe it or not, our beloved federal gummint has considerable experience with microfilming warehouses full of old punch cards, then scanning the microfilm to re-digitize the information. I was aware of a couple of these exercises while w*rking in DC way back when.

Patent US4551012 - Microfilm camera for filming punch cards - Google Patents
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:00 AM   #13
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Old 05-15-2014, 11:34 AM   #14
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Funny, when CD's first came out, people were saying that "this is the end-all!...these CDs will last 100 years and still sound good". So, after what, 30 years they're practically obsolete.

Now...how long before cloud storage is replaced by..........?
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:05 PM   #15
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The people in the industry knew how long CDs would last. The marketing was a different story.

There's another technology, think the latest, and probably last, revision to it is UDO. It was targeted to have a 50-100 year lifespan. It's too expensive for music, at the time it was going to replace micro film/fiche for permanent archives.

Since the price of disk is so cheap today, specialized storage arrays(emulating WORM) are now in the standard for permanent retention.

Granted things will change again.
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Old 05-15-2014, 12:10 PM   #16
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But...but....I just converted all my 8 tracks to CDs!!!
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Old 05-15-2014, 09:54 PM   #17
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Too lazy to read the back story, but I think manufactured CDs are quite a bit more robust than home-burned.

My music CD collection is 30-ish years old, and hasn't deteriorated any more than my hearing has...

I haven't really gone to the trouble of archiving much... Lazy Luddite!

I do have a back-up HD, and some stuff on the "cloud".
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Old 05-16-2014, 05:24 AM   #18
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The people in the industry knew how long CDs would last.
Indeed. They even built into the licensing agreement the fact that what you're buying is the right to listen to the music as long as the medium lasts, i.e., making backup copies remains illegal for music, even though it is legal for video games.
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Old 05-16-2014, 08:53 AM   #19
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Indeed. They even built into the licensing agreement the fact that what you're buying is the right to listen to the music as long as the medium lasts, i.e., making backup copies remains illegal for music, even though it is legal for video games.
In the US, you can make back-up copies of music CDs - it is considered 'fair-use'.

It appears that copy-protected DVDs are a different matter. Some legal wrangling indicates it is the breaking (or using breaking equipment?) that is illegal. Personally, I think that is a distinction w/o a difference, but some highly compensated lawyers/lobbyists have convinced our lawmakers otherwise.

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Old 05-16-2014, 09:19 AM   #20
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In the US, you can make back-up copies of music CDs - it is considered 'fair-use'.
Right. From the RIAA website RIAA - The Law - May 16, 2014
Quote:
Copying CDs
  • Itís okay to copy music onto an analog cassette, but not for commercial purposes.
  • Itís also okay to copy music onto special Audio CD-Rís, mini-discs, and digital tapes (because royalties have been paid on them) Ė but, again, not for commercial purposes.
  • Beyond that, thereís no legal "right" to copy the copyrighted music on a CD onto a CD-R. However, burning a copy of CD onto a CD-R, or transferring a copy onto your computer hard drive or your portable music player, wonít usually raise concerns so long as:
    • The copy is made from an authorized original CD that you legitimately own
    • The copy is just for your personal use. Itís not a personal use Ė in fact, itís illegal Ė to give away the copy or lend it to others for copying.
  • The owners of copyrighted music have the right to use protection technology to allow or prevent copying.
  • Remember, itís never okay to sell or make commercial use of a copy that you make.
Even though they omit reference to digital music files, the same rights apply. Likewise for sharing across different personal HW devices.
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