Blu-Ray is a Great Way to Store a Lot of Stuff

Source: Outdoor Photographer

blu-ray-disc-icon-1280x1024I want to try Blu-Ray for long-term photo backup. You see, I’ve had troubles with hard drives. Lots of troubles.

My typical method of protecting my photo files is to archive my images daily to another internal hard drive that serves as a short-term backup. Then on a monthly basis, I copy those images to an external hard drive and duplicate them onto a series of DVDs. That way I’ve got two backups—one magnetic and one optical—and they can be stored in separate locations.

It’s a good thing I make those DVD backups too, because I’m approaching a 100% failure rate on external hard drives. I’ve lost three this year. Two of them failed for no reason, one of them was damaged due to human error (when I dropped it). I duplicated all those DVDs each time, and it was a real pain. But at least I was able to recover my data from the DVD backups, and at least I once again have duplicate versions.

The problem is that I need to replace the long-term hard drive storage with a more efficient medium. DVDs are fine, as I end up burning anywhere from 10 to 30 of them every month. It would sure be nice to streamline that system into a single process—like I would get from a Blu-Ray disk with a capacity as much as six times greater than a DVD.

Why don’t I just invest in a Drobo hard drive system, or perhaps a full-scale RAID? It’s really a matter of money. Sure, the cost per gigabyte is better with these redundant-disk hard drive systems. But even the relatively affordable Drobo requires a more significant up front capital investment than a Blu-Ray burner (which can be had for $200, and five- to ten-dollar recordable discs). If you’re not backing up truly massive quantities of data, the 25-gigs of a single layer Blu-Ray is a great way to store a lot of stuff, relatively quickly and efficiently and affordably. Most of all, more archivally.

More than anything, as exciting as Drobo or Raid hard drive systems might be, they still would require a level of “maintenance” that I’m getting tired of. The genius of redundant drives is that when one fails, it can be swapped for a new one. That’s a great failsafe, but it’s based on a premise I still don’t love: “when” the drive fails.

My magnetic media confidence has been shaken by all of my recent hard drive disasters. The idea of storing my photos on optical media—a disc that seems to be inherently more durable and stable than magnetic media drives—gets more appealing every day.

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