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ARSCLIST  May 2006

ARSCLIST May 2006

Subject:

Re: Storing digital media

From:

Dave Nolan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 9 May 2006 11:41:00 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (114 lines)

On Mon, 8 May 2006 21:05:46 -0400, steven c <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Christina Hostetter" <[log in to unmask]>
>> Good Afternoon.  I am in the middle of a debate on what is the best way
>> to store large quantities of digital media (audio, video, and images).
>> I have always been under the impression that for such large quantities
>> of information and such large files a dedicated server (or servers) is
>> the best way to go as opposed to external hard drives or CD-ROM.
>> Our IT manager had this to say: Our servers have only lasted about 5
>> years before requiring replacement.  I wonder what makes you think
>> servers are appropriate for storing large amounts of data?
>> He is suggesting that we use external hard drives or CD-ROM to store our
>> media.  I think it would be much easier to store everything on one or
>> more servers and have the files accessible to anyone rather than having
>> to come to me all the time to pull materials in the archives.  Plus, you
>> could migrate that information to a new server when the old one is no
>> longer working.
>> Any thoughts?  I always thought servers that store only digital files
>> last longer than 5 years.
>>
>Actually, computers themselves (which is what "servers" are) have an
>essentially unlimited life span (barring power surges, lightning
>strikes, nuclear explosions, etc.), since they have no moving parts.
>Hard drives don't, since they DO have moving parts...but I would
>suspect their life span is better measured in hours of use...so
>that drives whose primary function is archival storage would probably
>have extended life spans. Also, I don't imagine there would be any
>substantial difference dependent upon whether the drives were internal
>or external.
>
>The important thing would be to have one drive dedicated as the C:
>drive for each archival computer...and NOT to use that drive for
>any archival storage, since it gets some use whenever the computer
>is operating.
>
>It might also be best to duplicate the contents of drives if the
>archives are to be regularly accessed for any reason...one could
>serve as a backup of the contents and thus see minimal use. The
>only advantage to external drives would be that one could be
>absolutely sure the backup drives saw minimal use!
>
>Just as a guide, I'm still using an old (about 20 or 25 years)
>286 machine I bought a decade ago for $5, and it still works
>fine, as does its single (40MB) drive!
>
>Steven C. Barr
>=========================================================================

Two things - 

First:  Once you commit to hard drives, you commit to perpetual data 
backup, just like all businesses have been having to do with their data for 
the past 50 years.  Every 2 to 5 years, you have to migrate the data to the 
next, most compatible, most capable, bigger, and cheaper hard drives out 
there.  Hooray, we've finished painting the boat, time to paint the boat 
again...

Second:  If you are committing to "server"-type storage of files, I would 
recommend looking into SAN (storage area network) technology.  Essentially 
a large hard-drives system with a controller, but not quite a full-fledged 
server (could some of the more systems-literate folks on the list weigh in 
with a proper definition of SAN?).  

At the Y, we are going with Studio Network Solutions GlobalSAN X-4 1.6TB 
units 

http://www.studionetworksolutions.com/content/products/globalsan/default.asp

which allow numerous workstations (and listening stations) to log in and 
listen to/record/edit/process audio and video files simultaneously.  They 
are also (as I understand it) the only RAID-protected hard drive storage 
that will work with Pro Tools.  For off-site backup, we are using Glyph GT-
Key 250GB removable hard drives in a GT drive bay frame 

http://glyphtech.com/site/products_gtseries.html

The drive frames can also be configured to include tape backup drives or 
optical media burners if one so desires.

Of course, one could also go with recordable optical media on a well-
organized shelf.  I guess it depends on how many people need how much 
access to the files at any given time.  

Our main objection to using CD-r as a primary archival medium at the 92nd 
Street Y was data integrity and longevity, but the CD-r/DVD-r logevity 
debate pendulum seems to be swinging back the other direction from where it 
was only a year ago.  There was a general panic about the stability of 
recordable optical media as many institutions found some of their their 
valuable data suffering from "CD rot" due to the use of substandard discs 
by many institutions, and there was a flurry of talk about how managed data 
migration was probably the way to go.  And, if you have the budget, I think 
it still is.  That being said, there are now the new Koday CD-r and DVD-r 
media products that claim 80-300 year lifespans 

http://www.ereleases.com/pr/20060418001.html

as well as the new Maxell Holographic discs 

http://news.com.com/Maxell+focuses+on+holographic+storage/2100-1015_3-
5973868.html 

that will debut with 300GB capacity and are expected to reach 1.6TB 
capacity within 5 years, and are also rumored to have a (relatively) long 
shelf life.

Computer technology is like that old "weather in Kansas" joke my wife's 
family says all the time - "If you don't like it, wait 5 minutes, it'll 
change..."

dave nolan
92nd St. Y
nyc

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