Best Medium For Long Term Storage?

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Brian Dorn
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Best Medium For Long Term Storage?

Post by Brian Dorn » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:47 pm

I'd love to hear some opinions on what the best medium is for the long term storage of a song in its finished form (not the session). Tape, vinyl, digital, something else? What holds up the longest? Which medium is most likely to still have gear around to play it in 100 years?
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Post by Nick Sevilla » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:21 pm

It also depends on where the stuff will be stored.
A cool, dry dark place is best, like a bank vault.
I am currently using both a hard drive and BluRay disks as the long term storage.
Clients get high quality DVDs made by Taiyo Yuden, who also make great audio CDs.

I used to use those gold archival CDs, but one flaked in my hands once before burning it, so I never used those again.

If you are concerned about future compatibility, the tape is an option, although you will need more space to hold it.

And the only thing I can think of that will last 100 years, is a vinyl album, never played, and stored properly.

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Post by Brian Dorn » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:56 pm

I haven't checked out BluRay discs. May have to do that. For long term, vinyl has been my best guess, but it certainly isn't as convenient as some digital options.

The thing I dislike about hard drives is they get cluttered/unorganized, stop working, etc.
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Post by dfuruta » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:40 pm

I've heard wax cylinders and shellac records from over 100 years ago, and they still sound as they should. Not very useful for long recordings, though.

I imagine the real answer has less to do with the format and more to do with the maintenance.

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Post by goose134 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:49 pm

For digital options, I've heard solid state hard drives are good. It's hard to tell about their longevity yet, but they don't need defragging and their read speeds are pretty great. They are expensive when compared to magnetic drives, though.

I should say that I do not have any personal experience with these drives.
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Post by kslight » Wed Apr 10, 2013 4:57 am

goose134 wrote:For digital options, I've heard solid state hard drives are good. It's hard to tell about their longevity yet, but they don't need defragging and their read speeds are pretty great. They are expensive when compared to magnetic drives, though.

I should say that I do not have any personal experience with these drives.
I haven't taken the plunge on one yet either, but they are so new I would not trust one for long term storage...their benefits are more in speed and for portable storage...
What holds up the longest? Which medium is most likely to still have gear around to play it in 100 years?
I forget the name of the company, but if you do a little poking around you can find info on some disks that are archival quality...Millenial? Something like that. Never used them, they are expensive.

I think the key is not to rely on one backup, but three or more. Hard drives are good for short term (ie: while you are working on a project), and I have several I use for this. For long term I would be using Blu Ray or DVD. Blu Ray would be a lot more convenient due to a bit more storage space, and scratch resistant. But whether or not anything will be able to read them in 100 years? Ask me in a 100 years.

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Post by Osumosan » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:58 am

Punch cards are the most reliable digital storage medium.* I've gotten internal HD's and swap them out of an enclosure and then just keep them safe somewhere. (These days, I actually just get new external drives.) DVD's are backup backups. Keeping a set offsite would be the next step up. Hopefully cloud will be less expensive or at least more spacious in years to come. I use cloud as backup during a project secondary to Time Machine.





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Post by apropos of nothing » Wed Apr 10, 2013 6:27 am

Vinyl, kept in multiple climate-controlled environments. Full stop.

Interesting article on this topic:
http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub148/pub148.pdf
..
Some choice excerpts:
When considering storage conditions for private collections, the context is usually for analog recordings, but many private individuals hold digital recordings. These present a new set of challenges, some of which may not be adequately addressed by private collectors. Archivists responsible for digital media?CD-Rs, hard drives, and other carriers of digital sound files?understand that all are impermanent and require periodic migration of the data to new media to assure long-term accessibility. Experience has shown that the reliable lifetime of a CD-R created in 2009 is very short in contrast to that of a shellac 78-rpm pressing of a recording made in 1909. Hard drives also have a comparatively brief lifetime and are prone to failure. In sum, institutions and private collectors alike need to preserve their holdings by backing up sound files on multiple drives and periodically migrating those files to new drives to protect against mechanical failure.


...

First, CDs are not a permanent medium. They are subject to damage from manufacturing defects, misuse, and poor storage conditions. As with every digital format, long-term preservation requires that the digital information on compact discs periodically be migrated to new media. (Bit stream migration is even more essential for CD-Rs, a far less stable medium than mass-produced compact discs.) Only large institutions have the digital infrastructure and staff resources to preserve compact discs for the long term.

...

In a statement prepared for the hearings conducted in support of this study, audio preservation specialist Chris Lacinek quoted an observation made by Howard Besser, professor of cinema studies and director of New York University?s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program: ?In the analog world, previous formats persisted over time. Cuneiform tablets, papyrus, and books all exist until someone or something (fire, earthquake) takes action to destroy them. But the default for digital information is not to survive unless someone takes conscious action to make them persist.? Lacinek continued, ?Our traditional flawed physical model did not bring total loss, regardless of our inability to perform preservation activities, because it persisted by default. Our digital collections, in contrast, will languish by default. The prospect of total loss is easily foreseeable.?

...

Under present laws and many existing licensing agreements, it is not legal to copy much born-digital content to public access servers and provide access to it in an institutional setting. Rights holders have implicitly tolerated using software to capture a streamed radio broadcast and save it to disc for playback later when the action is undertaken by individuals for personal use. It is doubtful whether they would be similarly tolerant of institutional archiving of the same content, which would entail making multiple copies for backup and providing access from servers.

The vast number of rights holders of online audio may preclude negotiating blanket licenses to download, archive, and make accessible all born-digital audio.

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Post by Brian Dorn » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:32 am

Fascinating article, Apropos. Thanks! I once lost a large number of sessions that I was working on, despite having it backed up on another drive; it's an experience that has stuck with me for years. I'm now considering having vinyl made for my final releases, so that my kids have an actual product to hold.
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Post by Drone » Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:45 pm

Tape deteriorates too, just as the dye layer in a CD-R will deteriorate. A proper CD is pressed, like vinyl, and it's deterioration is only in the silver reflective layer, the data is still imprinted on it.

I wonder if in the future archivists will either be able to resilver damaged CD's, or have the means to read them wihout needing the reflective layer, kind of like the current tricks they have for recovering deteriorating tape?
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Post by vvv » Thu Apr 11, 2013 5:48 am

I feel compelled to express my weird little philosophical take on this.

Everything else aside, I s'pose including your art, there would be, IMO, a kind of unacceptable egotism in desiring to preserve my art forever. Now (:lol: ), where does the concept of "forever" end (or begin? :twisted: ) and "acceptable" exist?

I'm not sure, but where I understand CDR's to be something of say, a 50 year life-span, well, I can live with that, die without desiring more. (Weird to think my 4 and 8 track cassette taped stuff may exist longer, tho' ...)

Obviously, cultural and scientific concerns aside, there is an argument for the Beethovens and Mozarts of our day to be preserved because, without audible recording medium, how would anyone in the future know of our Beethovens and Mozarts? Eh?

And I suppose I would have to concede that my grandkids need to hear "Gangham Style" and all of Billy Corgan's catalogue.

But so far as my personal recordings go, well, if my kids or that one fan wanna re-copy stuff on future medium, preserving it on interim CD clones or whatever, is fine.

And if those CD's of my stuff dry up and blow away, well, I'm OK with that. :nonono:
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Post by Drone » Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:25 am

vvv wrote: I'm not sure, but where I understand CDR's to be something of say, a 50 year life-span, well, I can live with that, die without desiring more. (Weird to think my 4 and 8 track cassette taped stuff may exist longer, tho' ...)
Wikipedia wrote:CD-R recordings are designed to be permanent. Over time the dye's physical characteristics may change, however, causing read errors and data loss until the reading device cannot recover with error correction methods. The design life is from 20 to 100 years, depending on the quality of the discs, the quality of the writing drive, and storage conditions. However, testing has demonstrated such degradation of some discs in as little as 18 months under normal storage conditions.[28][29] This failure is known as disc rot.
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Post by vvv » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:56 am

Hmm.

Many people might probably say 18 months is too long for my stuff to exist, the discs made rot upon burning ...
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Post by goose134 » Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:29 pm

Are there any archivists out there?

I have a friend who is a pro archivist and I will inquire about audio. She mainly deals with print but has some fascinating insights into those mediums.

Her bumper sticker? Archivists make it last longer.




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Post by Galen Ulrich Elfert » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:50 am

Those records etched in gold on the Voyager probes might outlive our solar system. Even if you can't take advantage of the noncorrosive properties of the vacuum of deep space, a solid gold phonograph record is probably a good bet for really long term preservation.

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