Hard disks are rated with a MTBF (mean time between failure) which is
typically around 300,000 hours. However, these are projections and don't
predict when individual drives will fail. Unless you are using a RAID
system with hot-swappable drives and have a tape backup system and an IT
department that can manage these systems, I wouldn't rely on hard disks as
a sole or primary method of archiving anything.

There is an explanation of MTBF at


At 11:31 PM 4/24/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>I am about to archive some shows I am working on, and this LACIE
>Firewire 120 GB drive looks awfully appealing at $400 CND. I hate CDs
>and don't trust their reliability - even the Gold ones. OK...I admit I
>am the stone tablet type, so given that, and keeping that in
>mind...What's the scoop on hard drives? I know a number of places,
>including the National Library of Canada, are archiving to HD and at
>least getting rid of the pesky CD.
>I assume these drives need to be exercised: at what interval?
>Are some kinds of drives considered more reliable than others?
>What's the scoop on Magneto Optical and [the apparently upcoming] Ultra
>Density Optical? I've heard over the years MO is the most reliable of
>backup media, but expensive. Perhaps things have changed?
>Thanks, and best regards,
>Alyssa Ryvers

David Seubert, Curator
Performing Arts Collection
Davidson Library Special Collections
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA  93106
(805) 893-5444 Fax (805) 893-5749
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