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.