View Full Version : Copying MiniDV's to CD-R as backups?

Jaime Valles
August 19th, 2003, 12:01 PM
Hello all. This might be a dumb question, but I've never tried this. I have a bunch of 60 minute MiniDV tapes (36 to be exact) that I need to copy, because I'm going to be editing the footage for several months, and I dont want to just have the master tapes. God forbid anything were to happen to them!

Anyways, I figure it might be possible to transfer the footage into a computer, and burn it onto CD-R (or DVD-R) as a backup for the master tapes. Can I do that? I don't mean making a low-res Video-CD that I can play to watch the footage, I mean copying the files onto the CD-R for storage purposes, with no loss of quality, as opposed to making a copy onto another MiniDV tape from one camera to another. This would save a bundle of $$$ (CD-R is cheap vs MiniDV) so I could do 2 or 3 backups of every cassette, and once it's on CD-R I can copy it back to my computer by drag-and-drop. Does this make sense? Is this even possible? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Rik Sanchez
August 19th, 2003, 12:18 PM
An hour of DV is about 13 gigs, using cd's to store the data will take a lot of cd's. A DVD can hold about 20 or so minutes of full res DV, you would be better off just making copies of the tapes onto mini DV. A mini DV tape costs about the same as a blank DVD, and the tape will hold an hour of footage.

I have a ton of tapes and I don't have enough money also to copy them all, I just keep them all in a safe place. If the footage is irreplaceable, then making a mini DV to Mini DV copy will be worth it. As long as you take care of the tapes, they should be okay.

If you aren't copying the whole tape, then maybe just making copies of the batch captured clips might not be so bad, as long as the clips aren't bigger than the capacity of the cd.

I've never really thought about this so I'm curious to see what other people have to say.

Jaime Valles
August 19th, 2003, 01:08 PM
<<<-- An hour of DV is about 13 gigs, using cd's to store the data will take a lot of cd's... If you aren't copying the whole tape, then maybe just making copies of the batch captured clips might not be so bad, as long as the clips aren't bigger than the capacity of the cd. -->>>

CDs hold about 650Mb... How many CD-Rs would it take for 1 hour of MiniDV footage? (Doing the math right now) About 20 CD-Rs would hold 1 hour of footage. Hmmm. That's 720 CDs to back up my 36 tapes. Crap, that's a lot of CDs.

Is it true that a DVD-R can only hold 20 minutes of MiniDV footage? How much do DVD-Rs cost in bulk? That may be more cost effective than the Panasonic MQ tapes I'd have to get. Any ideas?

The other thing is that I'm very concerned about playing back all those tapes very often, for fear that something might happen to them. If I made copies to MiniDV, then I'd have to play them all again to transfer them to the computer... I started making a copy of one of the cassettes, and the 2 cameras got very overheated after just one tape. I mean, they were hot to the touch, and I doubt that's good for the tapes or the cameras. Does anyone know a safer method for copying MiniDV cassettes? Maybe a professional service or something? Anyone?

Thanks again,

Gints Klimanis
August 19th, 2003, 02:38 PM
> DVD-R can only hold 20 minutes of MiniDV footage

About that. DVD-R is 4.7 GBytes. DV is like 200 MBytes/minute.
Good DVD-Rs can cost (Ritek 4x from are < $2/disk. Dual-sided 9.4 GByte DVD-Rs exist, but the space efficency they afford is not offset by their relatively high price. You're probably better off backing up to miniDV.

Rob Lohman
August 20th, 2003, 10:00 AM
20 minutes is correct. That also means you need to split up your
footage (or stay under 20 minutes when capturing). Personally
I'd dupe the tape too. But 36 tapes is a lot as well. Perhaps some
company can do this for you?

If you are going to copy 36 tapes I'd buy/rent two DV decks
if I were you. That to not put extra strain on your camera's.

Nathan Gifford
August 21st, 2003, 10:47 AM
One of the things I haven't tried are some of the image compression agents like Ghost or Drive Image. It would be interesting to see if you can get enough compression to make it worthwhile.

Boyd Ostroff
August 21st, 2003, 11:34 AM
Aside from the capacity issue with DVD's, you're going to spend a lot of time transfering and burning them. I struggle with the same issues myself. So far my approach has been to keep buying firewire hard drives. You could just about fit all of your tapes on two 250 GB drives. This would cost more, but the footage would be quickly available with random access. Consider how much value you place on your time when making choices like this...

Gints Klimanis
August 21st, 2003, 02:30 PM

What do you think about external cases and just swapping the hard drives? I'm at a point where I need to swap out larger projects and am looking into the 3.5"/5.25" Firewire/USB 2.0 cases. I've amassed a number of 20, 40 and 80 GByte drives
that would fit the bill.

Aaron Koolen
August 21st, 2003, 02:58 PM
Boyd, I'm interested in your suggestion of using harddrives. Do you think that the failure rate on them would be "acceptable" for permanently storing your footage, compared to the "failure" of miniDV (Dust, wear and tear, heat etc)?

It sounds like a very possible solution, placing everything on drives that can be chucked into a firewire caddy, or some such.


Gints Klimanis
August 21st, 2003, 03:58 PM

I know you were asking Boyd but ...

Failure rates on hard drives vary. I've had a few hard drives
die in the last ten years. I mean, totally, die. Manufacturers
publish mean-time between failure, (MTB) figures. Western
Digital offers a 3 year warranty and an Error Rate
(non-recoverable) <1 in 10^14 bits read . All of this assumes
that you don't drop, mishandle, freeze or wash your hard drive,
or subject it to power surges.

Here is the spec sheet for the Western Digital 250 GByte 7200 RPM drive.

What is cool is that you can easily make more copies as hard drives and backup media increase in density and decrease in price. Box up the old drives and store them in another part of the country.

Jeff Donald
August 21st, 2003, 08:50 PM
I've been using hard drives to back up clients projects for several years. I charge the client for the drive and explain it is the most economical and safe way to back up his files. I put the drive into my FireWire enclosure and copy all the files and extra media to the drive. Then I remove the drive from the enclosure and give it to the client for safe keeping. I don't want the liability of safely storing the files. So far, so good. No drive failures or clients erasing or losing his drives.

Gints Klimanis
August 21st, 2003, 09:28 PM

It's good to hear you've had no failures. Hard drives are convenient but are neither the most economical nor the most reliable method to backup data. The current cost for hard drive storage is about $1/GByte. Compare that to even miniDV or DDS4 DAT, which are about $0.25/GByte. Other tape solutions have an even better cost efficiency. So, hard drives at least 4x the cost of tape.

As for reliability, there's little comparison. Drop a hard drive, it's
dead. Drop a tape, it's ok. Tapes include data redundancy that involves spreading extra bits (parity) over the tape to
increase its immunity to dropouts. This allows for reconstruction
of lost words. Digital tapes are purported to preserve data for over a decade. Hard drives probably wouldn't even startup after that time.

Jeff Donald
August 21st, 2003, 09:55 PM
Hard drives are usually much less than a $1 a gig. Just recently I purchased several Maxtor 160 gig drives for $99. Still, not as cheap as tape, but I feel much safer. DAT tapes require extra time to make and to restore a project. Clients tend to lose small DV tapes and over the years I've had many more problems with tapes than hard drives. I'm not saying HD's are for everyone, or every storage situation. But they do have a place for safely archiving media.

Gints Klimanis
August 21st, 2003, 10:13 PM

I never thought about losing the tape. They're, chuckle, not particularly reliable if they're not around.

But seriously, I've had quiet a negative experience with hard drives. Part of the issue was that Windows2000 and WinXP have
their own disk write caching as a "performance" option. When the system dies, this data cache may not be written to the disk.

My worst experiences have involved losting partition tables. So, even though only a bit of data has been lost, the entire disk was not recoverable. Some disks can be recovered. For some reason, WinXP DiskKeeper collides with any 3rd party partition software, such as PartitionMagic8.0 .

Glenn Chan
August 22nd, 2003, 12:00 AM
You should be running on an uninterruptible power supply if what you do with your computer is important and/or if your computer is expensive. This should prevent a lot of cases where your computer dies.

For archival purposes you shouldn't really worry about some data not being written to the drive since you can do it again if you fail halfway. Hard drives do fail for other reasons and pretty frequently if you use them long enough. I don't know how long they would last if sitting on a shelf.

Archiving with mini-DV tape (just keep the raw ones to recreate your project) gives the best cost, the least time and the highest quality. In 10 years or so you will need to re-evaluate this scheme though as the tape will degrade a few years down the road.

Jeff Donald
August 22nd, 2003, 05:25 AM
Gints, you might want to take notice that you're posting in the Apple/Mac section. I can honestly say I've never lost a HD because of Windows 2000 or XP. But let's not confuse the issue with facts.

Boyd Ostroff
August 22nd, 2003, 07:24 PM
Wow, my idea seems to have spawned a lively discussion :-) Personally I have not been swapping the mechanisms out of firewire enclosures, but that would certainly be more cost effective. I don't shoot all that much video, but I also do 3d animation which generates a lot of data between different versions. I have a total of 6 external firewire drives, 3 from Maxtor, 2 Western Digital and one ACOM. Total capacity is around 600GB. Have not had any problems whatsoever during the past two years.

I used to do Mac IT support at my company until about a year ago. During an 8 year period I saw only 3 hard drive failures between maybe 30 or 40 machines in everyday use. Of these 3, two of them were repairable with utility programs to the point that we were able to extract almost all of the data. Only one of these drives, the original internal drive on a blue/white Mac G3/400 (I think that was a 4 GB drive, typical in its time), failed castastrophically to the point of making an ugly mechanical sound. We were unable to read any data from this drive, and of course the user had very little backed up. We sent the drive to "DriveSavers" IIRC. They were able to recover pretty much everything and burn it onto a DVD. Can't remember the cost, but it's based on how many MB they recover... might be cost prohibitive on a big drive full of video. In this case I think it was around $150. That drive was about 4 years old when it failed.

On my personal Mac systems going back as far as the Apple "Hard Disk 20" in 1985, I've never lost a single byte on a hard drive, never had a failure. Your mileage may vary....

So I know this is all just anecdotal, but you asked for my opinion ;-) Personally I'm comfortable with hard drive failure rates, and there are lots of advantages to having everything centralized in one place with random access. If you want to be extra safe, store the master tapes offsite in a vault. But I think it has a lot to do with your usage patterns and personal preferences. The original question centered on what to do with 36 tapes...