Thursday, March 09, 2006

Backing Up Is Hard To Do

  • Q - Should I make copies of my videos?
  • A - You only need to back-up the ones that might be important some day.

We're getting lots of queries about backing up home videos. And a lot of the readers are approaching the idea with some ill-advised logic: "I can compress video with MultiSuperGigaDivz Encoder and fit 10-hours on a CD! The specs say that it is DVD-quality and I put every tape I've ever shot on 50-cents worth of CDs I got in the clearance bin at WallyWorld. Then I erased and re-used the tapes." Well maybe not that bad, but a lot of people seem to think that digital media is "so expensive" that we need to penny-pinch with it.

At ColorBurst, we want to remind you just how valuable your videos are, and how they increase in value with age. I have a closet full of videotape shot over two-and-a-half-decades that represents the only moving images of that part of my family's personal history. Along with about 15,000 negatives, this represents a lifetime of images. They are, without a doubt, priceless. And the video I'll shoot at a friend's 5-year old's birthday party this weekend will be just as priceless particularly as it ages. Here's why - While she will have many more birthday parties as she grows up, this will be the only 5th birthday party she will have. When she graduates from Harvard, there will be no opportunity to go back and shoot video of her 5th birthday party to show at the graduation celebration. Perhaps one day, she'll fall in love, get engaged and marry. The videos her friends project at her rehearsal party won't have images from her 5th birthday party unless someone has copies from what I shoot this weekend.

Magnetic media stored carefully should last at least a decade or two I would think, and good CD-Rs or DVDs perhaps even a century. But technology will surely pass them by much more quickly. We need to back up our video in a robust form that is easily transferable to newer forms of technology as it comes along.

I know I've harped on this in the past, but let's not forget all those "disaster" kinda things that happen to physical media. How about earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, theft, vandalism, magnetic-pulse, and (for us Midwesterners) tornadoes! Add in broken pipes, mislabelling, forgetfullness, pets-in-heat, malevolent soon-to-be-ex spouses, and toddlers-spilling-liquid-substance, and all sorts of possibilities exist for damaging/destroying the physical media.

My family thinks it's wonderful because I'm often giving-out copies of videos on DVDs, and CDs full of still pictures. While I'm sure they enjoy the material, it also physically disperses copies of material that could never be replaced.

If I come home one day to find the fire-department hosing down the charred remains of my home, I know the insurance company will (eventually) help me replace my housing, clothing, furniture, and most of my video toys and goodies. I'd probably never be able to reconstruct a lifetime of images, but there are enough copies of the more important ones floating around that I could recover them.

You can buy name-brand DVDs for less than 40-cents each, and most PCs now have a DVD burner built in. Make DVDs of all of your videos, and spread them around.

"You only need to back-up the ones that might be important some day" (I do 'em all!)

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