Disappearing data

I threw the last of my VHS videotapes out a week ago. I was doing some house cleaning and came upon one buried under a pile of assorted bric-a-brac. No idea what was on it (of course there was no label on it!). I no longer have a VCR, so couldn’t play it to find out.

Coincidently, a California-based company sent me a note about its expansion into video tape transfer to DVD.

They say there are billions of hours of video footage of “new babies, first steps, weddings, barbecues, and graduations.” All on tape. All slowly disappearing.

Tape isn’t permanent. This company notes “irreparable signal loss” strikes tapes in as little as 20 years, “even when stored under optimal conditions.”

And that’s assuming you still have a VCR to play the tape back.

So transfer those tapes, with their priceless memories, to DVD, says the transfer company.

Yet DVDs have a fairly short life. Cheap ones ā€“ “no name” ā€“ may start giving up the ghost in as little as a year.

True. They’re cheap because of the materials used in their manufacture, particularly the reflective metal layers.

They oxidize. Rust. Data gone.

CDs too.

I would strongly suggest you need to regularly review any DVDs on which you’ve stored either video or photos.

Any visible signs of deterioration in the physical condition of the disk suggest to me you need to copy the contents to another, high quality, disk.

And if there are any signs of disk reading problems, the same thing applies: copy the data immediately.

Storage in the dark helps extend disk life. But not forever.

The only way to keep still images for extended periods of time is to print them, and keeping them in the dark extends that life.


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