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Re: [ARSCLIST] Is recording to Reel-to-reel still the preferred preservation method?

Hi All,

I have three Maxtor drives on my current system, two of which I use for
redundant backup of my .wav files.  I called their tech support and
talked to a Brian Dunne regarding the life of my drives and others in
general.  He quoted me a round number of 15 years.  I also asked about
the idea of disconnecting the drives to extend their lives and was told
after Brian checked with an older superior that the only problem with
that is that the natural effect of gravitational fields "can" cause a
weakening of the magnetic data on a drive if it isn't periodically
read.  This is hypothetical, of course, until it is done over a period
of time, so "time will tell".  They suggested that the drives be
reconnected once a year or even more often (probably on a rotation
basis, no pun intended) to reestablish their readability.  He also
recommended that the partitions be written as NTFS which has a better
future in operating systems to come.

This all leads me to make the logical (I hope) question: If the earth's
magnetic fields can degrade magnetic data, what is the difference
between disks and tape?  Our reel to reel master tapes were recorded
starting in early '50's, and they play beautifully except for dropouts
and splices which I can generally fix by raising the level or using
other techniques at those points when I edited them digitally.  So, to
state it another way, why wouldn't the disk drives work as well after a
long time of storage, what is different?  Brian said that mechanically
the disconnection of drives would save on the running wear and tear, so
from that standpoint, they would, of course, last longer.

Brian gave me a telephone number of one of Maxtor's companies that
specializes in archival tape systems, Quantum and they say their tape
drives removable data has a life expectancy of 30 years.  So, again,
what is different?  Also, if tape is more magnetically durable, mightn't
Quantum's (or other vendors) 300 GB cartridges and drives be an
excellent solution for long term storage?

As a sidebar as far as digital data and its longevity,  I have files on
my current personal computer that were originally written in CP/M back
in the 1970's on a Kaypro, and they are still all there and readable.
Of course, I've migrated them from probably ten different computers
during that time, so I'd say that is a pretty good record (in my case)
for digital longevity.

Rod Stephens
Family Theater Productions

Claus Trelby wrote:

Hi all,

In response to Alyssa (and other posts) I first want to say… I’m not trying
to raise a major outpouring of disagreement or controversy here…

I tell every client… Migration to “tape” (or other physical media with data)
is not a bad thing, and in the relatively “short” term the best thing. I use
both analog and digital equipment with the utmost pleasure and respect. My
statement is that ANY migration done to tape or other physical media (audio,
video or general data) will by default have to be migrated again. Not
tomorrow, but some time…

Physical media will degrade at various rates… 1/4", CD, DVD, AIT, Exabyte,
Digibeta, HDCam, etc etc…..

Cross answering to a couple of posts I would like to comment that Audio,
Video, Data (of whatever kind) does not have a safe haven yet. The future
holds many mysteries, and goodies for us “quality nuts”.

I know I’m jumping in responses, but my father was a technical engineer that
thought the cassette was extremely complex technology… 100 years from now,
our great grand kids might be building CD players for their 7th grade
science project, rather than an old “clunky” analog machines or cans on a
string. I don’t mean to diminish the talent it takes to upkeep or
“redevelop” classic technology (I do this every day and I'm an avid fan for
shops like ATR Services), but I think we should focus on where we might
migrate and what we have to do now... Just how to name and label a CD seems
to be a mountain to climb.

“Cockroaches in a post apocalyptic world” will probably not care what was is
in our archives as much as a human world will.

I will put my short-term and long-term vote on “data silos”.

I am in the middle of developing such a solution with a company called Iron

How do we define such a solution… Well, it is essentially a RAID array on
“crack” spread across geographical different locations, so no earthquake or
bomb could take it out without the Cockroaches taking over.

A hard-drive on a shelve is worse than a tape on a shelve. The mechanical
parts in a HD will stop functioning before they “should” if the mechanical
parts are never moving, and I think we all agree that any physical media has
a “time of death”… Whatever it may be.

Constantly moving, self-diagnosing, self-healing, bit for bit comparing
arrays should “in theory” never quit if they monthly have new parts and
medium swaps...irregardless of what type of modern media they are using and
what 1s and 0s they are storing. Especially if the system is designed to
integrate any new digital-data technology development in storage,
irregardless of the physical storage medium.

Iron Mountain has over 100tb in their array right now, containing mainly
bank, government, and general/private text-info data. We are trying to find
a way to make storage “cost effective” and proceed with the safe keeping of
data “forever”. The challenge is to keep cost down while storing audio and
video data… single files larger than the encyclopedia Britannica. A service
where anyone can rent space and have direct control and security of their
files and monitor through their own database solution… A big task, but “I
believe…” and we are getting close to solutions!

I’m not even sure if this was a direct response to anything, but if not I’d
just like to say… Data is Data if it’s in the form of audio, video or
word-doc… analog or digital.

I love technology, I’m a buff of history and love music. I hope we all have
a chance to say…”I was there”… and I hope I made an impact.


-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Alyssa Ryvers
Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 8:52 PM
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Is recording to Reel-to-reel still the preferred
preservation method?

You know, just because we seem to be focusing on audio quality, I would just like to iterate that my main concerns are in regard to problems restoring data. I've been working with computers and audio for 20 years (next year!) and I just know that I can deal with an analog tape drop out a lot more easily than I can with a computer file with an error.

Also, when we are replaced by cockroaches, I'm sure they will be able
to devise the 1/4" machine more readily than the CD player or even
ProTools. Just thinking of the future...


On Thursday, September 30, 2004, at 04:38 AM, Don Cox wrote:

On 30/09/04, Konrad Strauss wrote:

No matter what virtues can be expounded with respect to digital
files, I can't imagine anyone would say stability and longevity is
one of them.

I think that is only because a reliable physical medium has not yet
devised. Plastics materials are of doubtful longevity compared to gold
or ceramics.

In particular, the writable CDs do not have a fixing process to prevent
further exposure, unlike photographic plates (which are known to last
for 150 years).

On the contrary. We need to abandon the concept of the carrier medium,
rather concentrate on a file-based storage system. It is true that
when there is only a single copy, analog tape is probably the best
choice, but the best way to ensure that a recording survives is to
have multiple copies stored in different locations.

On different continents.

At this digital
excels. The ease of migration, easy creation of multiple copies, ease
of transmission etc, are a strong argument for the superiority of
digital storage. Not to mention the much lower cost.

I think the big weakness of digital has been that the quality of
conversion from analog was at first poor. Good current equipment
seems to satisfy the most critical sound engineers. (I'm not talking
about a $20 computer sound card here.)

Don Cox

Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and
cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the
moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always
there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking
goes, there is only clear mind. [Zen Master Seung Sahn]

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