When archiving your data, it's important to realize that not all media is equal. The 30 cent CD-Rs from Wal*Mart will last 2 years at most. Is the cost of replacing your data more than 30 cents? More than $2? Then perhaps you should consider using archival-grade media and storing it properly. Choosing the correct media may make the difference between accessing or attempting to recover your old client files, payroll, or other valuable information.
Most discs use unstable (and inexpensive) organic dyes. Those inexpensive discs from Sams are cheap for a reason. Gold, however, doesn't oxidize. Archival discs from MAM-A (Mitsui) boast a 100 year archival lifetime for approximately $2/disc. From their site:
The MAM Gold Archive Grade™ DVD-R is designed for applications requiring long-term storage of sensitive data, video or music files. The reflective layer is comprised of 24 karat gold, which allows maximum resistance to chemical breakdown -- one of the major causes of disc failure. Along with choosing the right recording dye material and bonding agent (Note: A DVD-R is made of two polycarbonate discs bonded together) the long-term stability of the reflective layer is crucial. Reflective layers using your standard “silver” surface are subject to oxidation (rust) over a long period of exposure to moisture. Unlike silver jewelry, a gold ring won't rust and neither will the gold reflective layer in this disc. In optical discs, the use of gold can triple the life of a standard disc.
Preliminary tests show that the MAM Gold Archive Grade™ DVD can last significantly longer than ordinary silver recordable DVD discs. Although tests are currently underway and results will soon be available, we can assume from our experience with gold layer CD-R that the expected life of these discs will be similar. The MAM DVD is offered as the long awaited companion to the MAM Archive Grade™ Gold CD-R, which has an expected lifetime of 116 years and has earned a reputation as the highest quality storage media available today.
This quality does not come cheap. At the time of this writing 50 DVD-R discs have a street price of $100, but isn't your data worth more than two dollars? They can be purchased direct from the manufacturer or more inexpensively from other vendors.
Taiyo Yuden may also be a good option. Read about Taiyo Yuden here.
MAM-A also has an 'M-Disc' which has an estimated 1,000 year life. It requires a special burner, but can be played back on most standard DVD readers.
For MAM Gold Archive Grade™ DVD-R, try these vendors:
And be sure to watch out for fakes. Sticking with reputable suppliers may help.
If you have been archiving to cheap media, consider purchasing archival-grade media and copying your data before it's too late.
To triple the life of any media, store it:
•out of direct sunlight,
•in a nice cool dry dark place
•in acid-free plastic containers
Always make two copies of important data, storing one on-site for convienient access and one off-site in case of disaster.
If you do store your dics on-site, a fire safe is not adequate protection. Sentry makes a safe with an "ETL verified" 2 hour fire protection for CDs and DVDs (the safe is subjected to 1850 degrees F for 2 hours, and the interior temperature remains below 350 F degrees to "protect digital media.") MAM-A tests their discs to "environmental tests" that use temperatures as high as 85 centigrade (185 Fahrenheit). Anything above 90 C or 194 Fahrenheit can cause irreversible damage. The media safe looks as if it could be helpful depending on the particulars of your fire, but off-site is the only way to be sure.
Indexing software can be used to give your employees searching capabilities so that they can find exactly the disc and project data they are looking for.
Please contact us to design an archiving policy for your company. Our insight may help your workflow, data availability and survivability.