There has been some debate over the years about whether hard drives last longer if they are powered
off when not in use. My experience has been, absolutely yes. So, for instance, the Seagate hard
drive connected via USB to my Logitech Squeezebox digital player (which contains COPIES -- with
other copies on other drives elsewhere -- of all my high-rez and CD-rez non-lossy digital files)
gets turned off when the Squeezebox is off. I found out that if I power the HD on a minute or so
before I power on the Squeezebox, the Squeezebox doesn't have to re-mount the drive and take many
minutes building its internal database. I power the Seagate off after the Squeezebox has fulled
As for Chris Brady's original question, I have had good luck dubbing VHS to DVD via a relatively
cheap and very simple JVC machine that I bought years ago. There is a still a Toshiba version on
this format on the market, minus NTSC TV tuners for the recorders. MCM Electronics, among others,
sell that machine. I have the Toshiba at work and it's not as good as the JVC because it doesn't
have automatic tracking setting for VHS playback, so you have to experiment to get ideal tracking
BEFORE you start recording on the Toshiba. All of these machines won't dub VHS tapes with
Macrovision copy protection. I do realize that DVD is a "lossy" format, but VHS is SUPER-lossy! So,
the dub is generally as good as the lousy VHS video was in the first place. Once the DVD is made, it
cam be replicated and also sucked into a hard drive via various software. I've had equally good luck
dubbing the few Laserdisc titles I have that never got put out on DVD. If you have a fancy VHS or LD
player that can accept external sync, you can defeat Macrovision and dub that media to DVD also.
Almost anything that was put out with Macrovision on VHS or LD can be purchased on DVD, generally
for under $10, so you have to assess if your time and effort is worth less than that.
One man's opinions ... I was glad to dump the few commercially-duped VHS tapes we had and replace
them with far superior looking DVDs. Nowadays, common movies are dirt-cheap on DVD (see Amazon "new
and used" affiliated sellers, for instance). So any sort of dubbing of old video media is not worth
my time unless the title is obscure or it's non-commercial material. I'm not a video-snob by any
means, so I highly doubt we'll now replace those DVDs with BluRay discs. The BluRays do look better,
but the DVDs are perfectly enjoyable. The snowy, skew-error-ridden VHS tapes were not.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2013 3:23 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Dub, dub, dub ....
> It's a problem all right. A friend of mine who has put his CD collection
> on harddrives spent some real money on a fancy harddrive system--within a
> year it failed. His solution, which I suggested, is forget about expensive
> harddrives--use large, relatively cheap consumer ones, replace them often,
> and back them up like crazy. The one thing you know about a harddrive is
> that it is certain to fail before too long. Whatever you do, back up! Oh,
> and keep your originals whenever possible.
> Manufactured CD's can fail too. We have all had a few that have gone bad.
> Corporate America runs on fancy harddrives with elaborate off-site back-up
> systems. At the big company where I used to work, which lived on hard
> drives, a big drive would fail at a rate of about one every six months. Of
> course they got plenty of use. I think state of the art at big archives
> and libraries that have digitized their holdings depends entirely on big
> computer systems with data saved on harddrives.
> The problem I have with all of this is that it introduces a human error
> factor (not present on a wax cylinder from 1901--all the people who
> invented and manufactured it are dead, but it still plays). Human beings
> have to be paid to maintain the big systems, and the day they cut the
> budget for those people, or hire Homer Simpson to do the work .... Also,
> very little in the way of error, failure, or natural or man-made disaster
> can destroy a huge amount of saved data, forever. Poof.
> If anyone truly invents a permanent digital data storage medium, we need to
> buy the stock.
> John Haley
> On Sat, Apr 13, 2013 at 12:51 PM, Chris J Brady <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> There is a thread debating about dubbing all in sight from LPs / 78s /
>> cassettes / reel2reel tapes.
>> But dubbing to what?
>> Optical DVDs / CDs rely on the changing of the chemical properties of the
>> substrate to retain digital recordings. DVD / CD pressing is beyond most
>> peoples means.
>> Further magnetic media such as hard-drives is reliant on the integrity of
>> a spinning mechanism and read and write head to say nothing of the magnetic
>> particles glued to the surface.
>> Solid state devices seem reliable - after all if a camera lost at sea for
>> years can eventually be returned with the images on the flash card still
>> extant and downloadable - then something must be right with this media.
>> So just what are all these folk dubbing to? What end-media are they using?
>> And what is the retention-life of that media? Is it really suitable for
>> archival recordings? Is anything suitable for archive recordings?
>> As an aside I have just purchased a Panasonic EX99 combi deck to digitise
>> and archive unique and culturally valuable recordings on gradually
>> deteriorating VHS tapes. Reading the manual before setting it up - as you
>> do - I was alarmed to read the statement that the 250GB hard-drive was
>> fragile and not intended for the storing of archival recordings. Help!!!
>> What can I use as the end dub media?
>> So what about dubbing to optical disks? I can dub to RAM and then download
>> to a computer - hard drive. But then what.
>> Also it appears that I cannot make back-up copies of the hard-drive which
>> as a computer professional I find rather alarming.
>> Any ideas folks?
>> Chris B.
>> P.S. I am using self-bought domestic equipment for this project because
>> funding was refused from the very Fund that should have supported it. I
>> could have got professional dubs done. But now the urgency is to digitise
>> the VHS tapes as best I can whilst they are still playable. The results
>> will go to the BFI, BLSA, and other archives for visual and audio media.