Tips for Archiving Computer Data to Optical Media Blu-ray Recordable Discs

I will produce a video about this one day. But here are a few pieces of advice to get started. I have been burning to the BD-R format since the year 2010 when a 50-pack spindle cost $180.00

  1. Media brand/type matters. My preferred discs are Verbatim or if you have deep pockets the M-Disc types such as these or these. BD-XL discs with up to 100 GB are also available but even more costly…obviously.
  2. Pioneer or OWC brands for the hardware. I don’t mess with anything else.
  3. Nero Burning ROM is the software I use. For Bluray (BDMV) authoring, I will make a disc image file and then burn using Nero.
  4. Although a standard single layer BD-R can use up to 25 GB of data, I try to burn less than 21 GB. Reason being is, the outer edge can pick up fingerprints very easily. If you don’t burn data in that area, it’s not an issue.

    For DVD-R burning, I will keep it under 3.8 GB for the same reason.
  5. Keep burn speeds low. For data I use the rated speed, which in my case is 6x. For Blu-ray movie burns, I will do 4x for myself or 2x for customers.
  6. Always use Nero’s data verification option. Sure, it takes more time but I’d rather know now that a disc was a coaster and not months or years from now.
  7. Perhaps the most important step…create and keep a word processor document that lists the contents of your disc archive. Back up that document frequently.
  8. Another good idea is to take screenshots of files/folders. This does take longer than simply typing a list but thumbnails can help out a lot when trying to track a photo or video file down.
  9. Don’t use a marker or print on the disc label EXCEPT onto the inner circle. That’s why I prefer inkjet hub printable discs.
  10. Just because I am archiving to optical discs that doesn’t mean I erase the data from hard drives. I always keep two copies of critical data. So, home videos and expensive video shoots…things like that. Consider storing one copy off-site…be it online or at a family member’s house.

Finally, large capacity solid state media is becoming a possible long term archival reality for people with modest budgets. My 2005 SanDisk flash drive is still going strong. Slower write speed 256 GB thumb drives can be purchased for under $35. For the time being though, a BD-R disc at around $.70 per 21 GB is the most affordable option. I’d estimate the shelf life to be approximately 15-20 years but maybe longer.

Is Distopik’s Mix:Analog Hardware in the Cloud Rental Service Worth It?

I decided to do some accountant math on whether renting analog gear “in the cloud” makes business sense.
Mix:analog sells MATs or Mix Analog Tokens at a rate of $0.06 per token ($13.99 divided by 250 tokens = 0.05596) in their most expensive plan.
Their average rental rate is 97.5 tokens per 15 minutes or $5.461. Per hour, that’s approximately $21.82 again on average.
Their gear includes two professional level tape machines, a Fairchild 670 compressor clone, Elysia museq, Gyraf G24 compressor and a Bettermaker Limiter.

Their mastering rack is the most cost effective rental. At a cost of 120 tokens ($6.7152) you get two stereo linked Pultec EQ clones, an SSL buss compressor clone, an analog limiter and a Sontec inspired equalizer. That’s $26.86 per hour for five pieces of gear, effectively $5.37 per hour per device.
Now, let’s take a look at the cost of the brand name gear because I don’t know the real price of the clones.

An elysia museq will run you $5,299.
The Gyraf G24 costs $3,900 and the Bettermaker Mastering Limiter $2,699.00

All these devices cost 90 Mix Analog Tokens, which is about $5.40 every 15 minutes or $21.60 per hour. So let’s do the math on APPROXIMATELY (rounded up) how many hours you would need to rent before you bought this gear.

Museq: 245 hours ($5,299 / $21.60)G24: 181 hoursMastering Limiter: 125 hours

Now, this does not include the excellent Burl BAD4 and BDA8 converters.

Tack on an extra $5,400 for those plus the Mothership chassis.
The tape machines are pretty neat too. The nice thing is, you don’t have to pay for new tape nor do you have to pay or spend the time to repair/maintain them. Tape machines are a b**ch, seriously!

A Telefunken M15 runs about $2,000 + shipping and Recording the Masters tape is used. At 420 tokens per hour it’s about $25.20 to rent. That’s 79 hours before you can buy one outright and that again doesn’t include shipping, tape and maintenance costs.

An excellent condition Studer A812, if you can find one, go for around $3,000-6,000. Taking the lower figure, that’s 119 hours of use before a purchase. Studers are notorious for being difficult to maintain, so I’d rather pay $25.20 per album (give or take 15 minutes) than have the real deal. Again, this does NOT include the cost of the Burl converters nor the cool clean volume boost/cut device.

Recall/preset and sweet spot are other Mix Analog benefits that cannot be understated. If you buy a lot of tokens upfront, these costs are even cheaper.

Run a business? MATs are tax write-offs.

Rent the gear only when you NEED it. I say, Mix:analog is a solid deal. Pass on the costs to your customers…that’s what I do. Otherwise, they get an all plugins only mix or master. Simple as that. Analog mixing/mastering is something all audio engineers can offer now from the comfort of their home studio.