Hard Drives will fail. Not if, but when.

Sorry, but this is not really new news.
Those spinning plates holding your precious data, and yes, I mean photographs, will only really spin for so long.
That’s why we are always advocating a good back up plan. As does everyone else in the industry.
OK, that’s the info, what are some other methods to save the files?
You know about backing up to an external hard drive, or 2. Some people I know go 3x, especially if it’s a paying job. Short cost insurance.
What we do is go another step: back up the files to a solid, non-moving part, medium – DVD’s.
Now they hold 4.7 gb of material, (actually less, about 4.3gb when you get in there), or 8.5gb on a double layer.
These DVD’s are coated with an organic ink that the red laser write on.
The key word here is organic.
” Don’t panic, it’s organic” may apply to food, but when it is holding onto your files for dear life, it can be a problem down the road.
Being organic, it does break down eventually. If you go back into any CD’s or DVD’s you’ve burned in past years, you will probably notice some discoloration. The sweet deal on the spindle looked good then, but if your photos are getting drop-outs as they sit there, was it worth it?

archivalgold_dvd_faceSo we use Archival Gold discs. They are coated in, yep, gold, an inert material. So the breakdown will take soooo much longer. The Archival DVD”s discs from Delkin are rated at 100 yrs. Works for us.
But that’s not the only part of the story.
You have to store them in a proper sleeving and binder set-up. Once again, the box of 100 thin jewel cases we got from Staples, were a huge saving, but the destructive fumes they emit (you can’t smell, but the disc can) will defeat the purpose of an archival disc.
We spent days backing up home movies and photos to these DVD’s and placing them in proper archival sleeves and binders.
archivalgold_pensOh, and don’t forget- NEVER USE A SHARPIE ON A DISC!!!!
That intense smell you get when the cap comes off ? Yep, that’s helping destroy the disc, too. Delkin and others make a proper pen for that.
Moving on.
The huge files that come from TIFF conversions or even just RAW images, can fill up your hard drive super fast. If you are shooting a 24mg file per shot, and doing a normal shoot, how many cards may you fill up? 1? 2? 6?
And we use 4 and 8 gb cards standard. So then each full 4gb card , fills a single layer DVD and the 8gb fills a double layer.

We made a move to Blu-ray. With almost a 25GB capacity on a single layer, you can put a few cards onto one disc. And if you are adding video to your multi-media capabilities, you know you’ll need that space. Most vid cameras are using some kind of a flash card to shoot with so, unless you are keeping those cards as the master forever, you’ll need to back up to a drive and disc.


The drive we are using currently is the Delkin Blu-ray burner, at 4x speed, we know it’ll get leapfrogged, but it’s right for right now.
It is an external device we can hook up to the MacPro or the MacBook Pro on the road, and save our files to a nice safe and secure place.
Comes with a case and all of the cables you need. Yes, it does need AC, so you maybe waiting till your back at the hotel, or your studio to burn.
The unit is backward compatible, so it will access most of your CD’s and DVD’s. It can play blu-ray discs on your computer, but not on your TV, unless of course you have your computer wired into your flat screen. But it’s not what it’s intended for. We know. We tried.

The discs are a not cheap but you work is worth a bit extra, right?
Save the cheap discs for a quick file transfer.
The best deal right now is at B&H and even the official Delkin site sends you there.

This has saved us time, and gave us peace of mind. Those nice 200yr Blu-ray discs are holding onto our hard work, and they don’t have to spin at all. Till we need them again.

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Current Exhibitions

  • MOMA
  • LaToya Ruby Frazier-Monuments of Solidarity
  • May 12th-Sept 7th
  • 11 West 53rd St
  • , New York, NY 10019
  • Tel: 212.857.0000
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  • April 20th – June 7th
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