CDs and DVDs for archival of images.

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by Joseph Chamberlain, DDS, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Dear Members:

    I am about to archive images to optical media and in light of recent debates
    surrounding the issue of CDs x DVDs in terms of reliability I decided to do
    some research first before choosing the media for the job.

    Although I've done some basic research on the internet it is hard to know
    what sites provide reliable and trustworthy information that can be fully

    Do any of you have information to share on the benefits of using CDs and
    DVDs as long term storage media ? Which one is the best at this time ? I
    understand CDs are more "universal" and the data is not quite as compressed,
    but since DVDs are tempting due to their much greater storage capacity in
    the same physical space, I would like to know how reliable they are (more
    error prone than CDs ?) and how long they are expected to last compared to

    Do you have information on the differences between the two media ? Would you
    suggest any specific web site that offers detailed and reliable informaition
    on the subject ?

    Thank you in advance for your help,

    Joseph Chamberlain
    Joseph Chamberlain, DDS, Feb 8, 2006
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  2. Take a look here:

    I use DLTs for backup...
    Jørn Dahl-Stamnes, Feb 8, 2006
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  3. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    Bruce Uttley Guest

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
    has a site on the "Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs". It
    has a link to "Special Publication 500-252, October 2003",
    a pdf titled "Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs -- A Guide for
    Librarians and Archivists".

    This 50 page report has chapters on ensuring that your digital
    content remains available: disc structure, longevity, conditions
    that affect the media and cleaning. With proper handling of the
    media, this report is optimistic.

    The site is at:
    Bruce Uttley, Feb 8, 2006
  4. In addition, although I don't have the link, the US Library of Congress also
    has guidelines posted for the use of CD/DVD media and I can speak from first
    hand knowledge of the LoC's use of CD's for long term storage of their
    current image library.

    Search the LoC website and I'm sure you'll find the information.
    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Feb 8, 2006
  5. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    Jon B Guest

    Following two DLT drive failures and one tape failure in 3 years I now
    use Sony AIT tape drives for backup [1].

    Personally whatever you are doing I'd keep two copies, if you don't want
    to go to the expense of tape storage, I'd keep everything on at least
    one HD, with a DVD backup to boot, therefore hopefully if one fails
    you've still got the other to fall back on. The trick is to ensure that
    you keep a check on both [2].

    [1] I know propietary and other things say use DLT or something but they
    run a hell of a lot quieter, faster, and so far have been a hell of a
    lot more reliable. And they were cheaper to boot.
    [2] I say this I keep warning a client against archiving to tape, and
    then deleting the originals from HD. This is despite them having plenty
    of room free nowadays and the cheap price of HDs. They've already had
    one tape fail (taking the drive with it) [3], but that was a current
    backup tape. Just hope non of the archive tapes ever fail on the day one
    of them is needed.......
    [3] Which also meant that because they had to be able to get at the
    archives they had to go DDS again and not upgrade the tape drive :-/
    Jon B, Feb 8, 2006

  6. Oh my here's that infamous article again. How much you want to bet IBM
    their doctor associate have a new storage media on the horizon and this 2-5
    year claim is just a means to discredit the use of CD/DVD and to position
    the new media as the archival panacea.

    Fact, all media has it's failure point. That failure rate increases if the
    media isn't handled properly regardless if it's CD/DVD, Hard Drive, or the
    most highly acclaimed TAPE.
    Robert R Kircher, Jr., Feb 8, 2006
  7. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    Malcolm Guest

    I am about to archive images to optical media and in light of recent
    I recently tried opening some files backed up to CD in 1999 and 2000. 100%
    failure. In some cases the disc couldn't be read, on others the file names
    would display but the files could not be opened.

    HP drive ; dics were things like Dyasan, Verbatim, TDK. All CD-Rs. Don't
    remember which exactly.

    So much for 100 year shelf life.

    Malcolm, Feb 8, 2006
  8. Today Bruce Uttley commented courteously on the subject at
    IMHO, the only real alternative any of us have is to follow
    the technology and continually update our backups as new,
    proven stuff comes along. How many of us still have 8" or
    5.25" or 3.5" disks we can't read anymore for any of a hundred

    Ditto for CD-R/RW and DVD-R/RW. They work fine today, and will
    for years to come if cared for properly. And, if you use the
    IT "grandfathering" method of keeping at least 3 sets, and
    rotating the oldest out as the newest comes in.

    It has also been debated here what the best format is for
    preserving graphics long-term. It certainly is /not/ PSD or
    pspimage! If, for no other reason, Adobe or Corel might be
    out-of-business when you try to retrieve your irreplaceable
    images. Ditto, IMHO, for RAW/NEF. What do you do if Canon,
    Nikon, Adobe, whomever stops supporting your incantation?

    Again, all of this is fine for today, as are TIFF, PNG, JPEG,
    and others. Today, we have Macs and Windoze FAT, FAT32, and
    NTFS. Who knows what there will be in 5, 10, 100 years?

    But, to come back to earth, who among us doesn't have boxes
    and boxes of old snap shots and 35mm slides, that they've
    taken or they rescued from a relative's house? Me? I've got
    8,000+ slides, and several thousand unnamed old family B&Ws
    alone. My daughter says that if I don't name this stuff, she's
    going to throw them away after I'm dead. And, I say - "so

    I started with floppies, went to Zip Disks, then CD-R, now
    DVD-R. When the next better mouse trap comes along, I'll move
    along. And, these are just the musings of a fool, YMMD. <grin>

    BTW, I use UDF most of the time for my optical media to get
    115 character file names, up from the 64 allowed by Joliet.

    But, when I got my new Windoze XP Pro SP2 box last October,
    the Windoze device driver crashes almost all the time upon
    loading or attempting to read UDF-formatted CDs or DVDs. And,
    while not as serious, SP2 also truncates the 32-char UDF
    volume names to 15.

    I /know/ this problem exists, I can Google for it and two of
    my most knowledgeable computer guru friends can verify it. UDF
    works fine on Win 98, 2000, NT, ME, and XP through SP1. But,
    Bill the Gates broke something either in the base SP2 code -
    probably for his bullshit non-security - or he broke it in one
    of the hundreds of "critical updates" since. Who knows? All I
    know is that the MS KB has no-thing to say about it, and the
    many MVPs on Usenet claim the problem doesn't exist. But, when
    I Google, I can find people just like me, wandering the desert
    looking for help.

    Anybody on this NG know what I'm talking about? Better still,
    do you know how to fix it? I have to keep my old SP1 box
    until/unless I find a cure and/or continually buy more and
    more external HDs, and hope /they/ will read in 20 years!
    All Things Mopar, Feb 8, 2006
  9. Today Robert R Kircher, Jr. commented courteously on the
    subject at hand
    The Library of Congress and the National Archives have billions
    of /your/ dollars to develop and maintain the very best in
    preservation. So, it doesn't surprise me at all that it takes
    them 50 pages to say what I can in one sentence - "don't touch
    the media and keep it in a cool, dry place". Big deal!
    All Things Mopar, Feb 8, 2006
  10. Mr.Bolshoyhuy, Feb 8, 2006
  11. bought from J&R in NYC:
    10 pack(box no frills; w/jewel cases) $4
    30 pack spindle(no jewel cases) 80min 700mb 52x - $6(0.20c each)

    100 pack spindle 700mb 52x - $15(0.15c each)
    50 pack spindle - $7(0.14c each)

    I did get data read error on a couple of pics when viewing on a DVD
    player. The names came up, but not the pics. On the computer, never
    had this problem.
    Mr.Bolshoyhuy, Feb 8, 2006
  12. No, they don't always know the best in preservation. You should read
    the book _Double Fold_ about the disaster they brought on the
    historical community by microfilming and then destroying old news

    Both the Library of Congress and National Archives while good are not
    always the last word in preservation.

    "A combat photographer should be able to make you see the
    color of blood in black and white"

    David Douglas Duncan
    Speaking on why in Vietnam
    he worked only in black and white
    John A. Stovall, Feb 8, 2006
  13. Today John A. Stovall commented courteously on the subject at
    That was exactly my (sarcastic) point, John! They spend all
    the money you and I will give them but don't have a clue what
    they're, except to write 50 pages of drivel. It's like the
    classic oxymorons like "military intelligence" and "postal
    service". Maybe we should add "Libary of Congress
    preservation". It's like what the National Archives have spent
    so far, with no end in sight, to preserve the Star Spangled
    Banner flag. Somebody should have thought about history 100
    years ago when they literally let people cut a piece of the
    flag out for souveniers!

    Nobody intelligent, and I mean nobody, would /ever/ destroy
    the originals of /anything/ after microfilming! Renting space
    at a Bekins warehouse someplace (you know, where the nuclear
    waste goes) is money well-spent compared to what their problem
    is now - how the hell can they scan these newspapers to
    digital, any format? The originals are gone.

    Save a fire or other natural disaster, at least I still have
    my slides and old snapshots if my digital media completely
    goes belly up.
    All Things Mopar, Feb 8, 2006
  14. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    Zed Pobre Guest

    There are only two reasons I have ever failed to get information off
    of old archives: failure of the physical media, or a proprietary,
    undocumented data format. Guard against those two things, and you
    have storage for as long as anyone cares about the data -- practically
    by definition.
    Well, on the Canon side, I'd use UFRaw, which is Free Software, and as
    such will be around much longer than I am. Even if it isn't, the
    documentation on the CR2 format will still be around, and someone
    could pretty easily rewrite it. The Nikon encrypted white balance may
    be a problem, but I haven't kept up with reports on how to work around

    If there are still people in a hundred years that care about
    retrieving old data, then they'll have preserved the documentation on
    all of the old open data formats. If society has degenerated to the
    point where this information has been lost, forget about retrieving
    your images and worry about whether you have enough food to last you
    through the winter.

    Proprietary/undocumented formats may get you into trouble, but I seem
    to recall that PSD is actually well documented (I haven't personally
    checked on this, but it was the impression I got), so it may be safe
    as well. Certainly, there are non-Adobe programs that read and write
    PSD files.

    I'm certainly not opposed to moving to the next available physical
    storage format when it becomes available, just to get around media
    failure and information density issues (if I had to keep all of my
    current data on floppies, I'd have lined every wall with shelves and
    had no room left), but if you're going to trust the archivability
    stats on a CD, then I wouldn't worry about not being able to find
    readers if the storage format was open to begin with.

    I've never seen this problem, unfortunately. The only problems I've
    ever had from the Windows side are the CD driver locking up completely
    and refusing access to the drive, or refusing to write a disc with
    asian characters in the filenames. I would suggest copying the data
    to a hard drive on the SP1 machine, moving it over to the SP2 machine,
    and then burning a fresh UDF disk from there to see if you get
    something that works. It's possible that SP1 was building slightly
    defective disks, for instance.
    Zed Pobre, Feb 8, 2006
  15. Today Zed Pobre commented courteously on the subject at hand
    That's entirely true, Zed. I would add, though, that one
    cannot prove a negative hypothesis by citing examples. All it
    takes is /one/ exception to disprove your thesis. For example,
    I have graphics made originally by Turbo Pascal under DOS 4.0
    that are now irretrievable since I can't get it to run on XP
    SP2. Someday, BMP, for example, may no longer be supported by
    M$. Ditto for my HIRES graphics created with a graphics tablet
    on my old Apple //e. Fortunately, I don't care about that any
    more, but if I did, it'd be a tough roe to hoe to find a

    And, to your point about proprietary formats, that's exactly
    why one shouldn't trust their only copy of something important
    to any graphics editor, such as PS CS or PSP or even the RAW
    converter that came with your camera. Should whatever created
    the files somehow now install on Bill the Gates better
    mousetrap, and the developer can't or won't provide an upgrade
    path, you are shit outta luck.

    As to Windoze locking up, that's a good reason to create more
    than one copy, preferably in a different format.

    It's like the UDF crashes I'm getting right now in SP2. Maybe
    I'll find a fix, and maybe I won't. At least, not for a long
    time. I'm OK until my SP1 box dies, I suppose. Or, I can throw
    money at the problem a different way and buy more and more
    external HDs. Or, I could create a cross-reference between my
    very long file names to ones that fit Joliet, and re-burn my
    CDs and DVDs. That's a lot of "or's", so I'm still searching
    for a way out of the woods on UDF.
    All Things Mopar, Feb 8, 2006
  16. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    C J Southern Guest

    C J Southern, Feb 9, 2006
  17. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    wilt Guest

    Color film and color prints are made with organic dyes. Burnable CD
    and DVD are made with organic dyes to encode the 1s and 0s. Kodak has
    a list of things on a web site (simply do a Google search) which are
    antagonistic to organic dyes, like PVC and high acid content paper and
    wood! If you have to store color film and prints in the right storage
    container, and you have to keep it out of the light to prevent fading,
    it makes sense that you have to protect burnable CD and DVD in exactly
    the same way to prolong the life. Some can fail in a few years, others
    will last long time. Your Mileage May Vary.

    I have a software CD that is about 3 years old, with Photoshop which
    was bundled with some hardware I purchased. It was stored exactly like
    all my other software, in a dark place, in the original sleeve, and
    about a week ago it consistently failed when I tried to reload the
    software onto my PC...I had a second copy and that worked just fine!
    Someone else mentioned that they had a data DVD only a few years old
    also go bad on them! So DVD is nowhere near as archival as a lot of
    people think. And re-writable are worse than write-once media in their
    susceptibility to data read problems.
    wilt, Feb 9, 2006
  18. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    wilt Guest

    Oh, forgot to mention that there are three classes of organic dyes used
    in recordable DVD and CD. ONE of them is more archival than the
    others. One clue is a gold color, but beware that some disks are
    painted gold and do not use this dye!
    wilt, Feb 9, 2006
  19. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    G.T. Guest

    Wow, you are a clone of Mark Conrad from c.s.m.s. From here on to a
    bunch of bizarre tangents.

    I'm not going to rely on CD-R because I've had too many failures even
    with perfect handling.

    G.T., Feb 9, 2006
  20. Joseph Chamberlain, DDS

    Apteryx Guest

    Hopefully it isn't because we got rid of the drives that would read it
    without transferring the data to a format we could still read. That would be
    You get your 2006 raw converter software off the backup disk you stored it
    Apteryx, Feb 9, 2006
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