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Old January 15th, 2014, 08:41 AM   #1
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Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

I'm sure this is something that has been asked many times, but I'd be grateful for views on the best way forward to archive my 200+ hours of mini dv tapes, some of which are now over 10 years old. I'm ideally looking for a route which minimizes loss of quality. I know RAID, Blu Ray and LTO tape are all possible - what do people think of the relative merits of these? Also, any advice on codecs and in what format to save the files?

I have a massive job ahead of me and don't want to embark on a route which I subsequently regret and then have to start over.

I have considered getting another mini dv camera and copying tape to tape as an interim measure, but this seems to be a temporary rather than longer term solution.

Your thoughts and advice appreciated!
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Old January 15th, 2014, 09:52 AM   #2
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

200 hours of DV = 2.6TB of captured data. When you capture it to a hard drive, you will retain the format (frame rate, progressive/interlaced) of the original recording. I like the WD Passport series of portable hard drives and have now began acquiring the 2TB USB 3.0 models, which keep dropping in price.

They're $105 at B&H.

WD 2TB My Passport Portable Hard Drive (Black)

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Old January 15th, 2014, 10:29 AM   #3
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

Hi Andy,

I would simply capture the tapes natively as DV via Firewire, and that is basically an exact copy of the data on the tape - no conversion taking place that might compromise quality. And DV is a standard that has been around for years and will continue to be universally playable/editable for years to come.

Regarding storage, either get a drive unit with RAID 1, which mirrors everything to a second drive for backup, or use two separate drives and make backups manually or with backup software. Some folks like to keep a second drive at another location, in case of fire/flood/theft.

Have you thought about how to catalog and manage all that material? Check out CatDV software for that, includes capture utility. Add notes and keywords as you go and build a searchable database of clips.

I'm just starting down the same path as yourself, with 20 years worth of Hi8 and MiniDV stuff of family that no one has ever seen! Will definitely keep me occupied for a while.

Jeff Pulera
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Old January 15th, 2014, 11:01 AM   #4
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

I probably have a similar number of tapes . I just keep the original tapes in cool , dry storage , in boxes up in the attic - as far as i am concerned these tapes of original material are my archives . Mini DV cassettes were always affordable enough to buy a new one every time , and for every paying job I always took a non refundable deposit which covered the cost of the consumables up front .

Besides the tapes containing unedited footage , I have all my finished edits on DVD , from which I can make additional copies if ever asked . I do have a few recent jobs on hard disk , but i don't keep things there indefinitely , unless it is a work in progress or periodical updates might be required .

I am more confident about the tapes lasting as long term storage than optical discs or HDD's .
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Old January 16th, 2014, 08:00 AM   #5
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

I archived my old DV tapes to hard drive then cloned the drive.

But in all honesty, I have never used any of this old SD stuff and likely never will.
David W. Jones
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Old January 16th, 2014, 08:19 PM   #6
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

There's a fairly good chance the MiniDV tapes could outlast any hard disk drive you capture them to. Hard drives are not as enduring as people like to believe. I had two out of three archive drives go dead on me. The third drive, I treated it like a sickly child when I copied the archive from it. I did it in small batches, not a long hard continuous duty cycle which might have taken it too down for the count. As for playback devices, they also may not endure. That goes for MiniDV players as well as the computers that your hard drives install to. There are reasons why interconnectivity standards change and they are not always benign. You cannot count on legacy support, therefore the ongoing chore of data migration is going to be your lot. You may have to decide which of the MiniDV recordings is critical for the future or how much investment of time, money and effort you really want to commit in order to view all of them in say thirty years time.

Last edited by Bob Hart; January 16th, 2014 at 08:29 PM. Reason: error
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Old January 21st, 2014, 01:14 AM   #7
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

Hard drives are generally less capable for on-the shelf long term storage than tape. Hard drives are designed to spin not to sit, so to speak. If a drive is sitting on the shelf, nobody will notice when a bit "rots away" quietly.
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Old January 21st, 2014, 07:23 AM   #8
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Re: Mini DV Back Up / Archiving

All hard drives will fail at some point whether in 4 or 10 years. The lubricant on the motors can dry and the drive will be dead. It's important to play them a few times a year and not just put them away on a shelf. Use it or lose it.

Tape deteriorates over time and the earth's magnetic core also adds to the slow loss of data on tape.
Don't put your material in areas with extreme temperature changes like an attic. Tapes can last many years but there are no guarantees as there were many different brands.

Sony XDCAM optical discs are more stable form for professional storage but not practical if you don't use them. I would suggest to burn DVDs on BluRay data discs. Use a couple of different brands and keep them with your valuables if they are important.
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