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Old May 19th, 2008, 02:18 AM   #1
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Best MiniDV Tapes for long term stability?

Just ordered a Canon HV30, due on Tuesday. Looking/reading around it looks like the panasonic tapes are well regarded (both the PQ and AMS variants). Since most of our use of the camera is for videos of the family (young kids at this point), we're most interested in longevity of the tapes.

Can anyone comment on whether or not there's a real difference between these two for longevity? We'd most likely play back the tapes perhaps once to review and a second time to extract to the computer. Tape seems the best format for archival reasons, but we'd like to have as much "insurance" as possible from the tape without totally spending the kids college funds :D
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Old May 24th, 2008, 09:06 PM   #2
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Hmm, no opinions on this? I tried search but didn't turn up much of anything related to long term archival. Still hoping for some opinions!
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Old May 25th, 2008, 02:33 PM   #3
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Archival life of magnetic media is a very difficult thing to project. So much depends on the storage conditions, and a lot depends on the exact formulation of the tape, the actual recording heads that wrote the tape (how strong was YOUR tape head's signal at write time???) etc.

I know of some folks in the petroleum industry (where they archive the tapes of the subsea scans for decades) who have told me that they could still get useful data from tapes after over 40 years in storage. Since there are several hundred million tapes in storage at some of the major archives, this is a big deal indeed.

On the other hand, if the quality of the data (ie noise, droput frequency, etc) degrades over time, the data are still useful for the kind of analyses the oil guys do, since they're looking at the data statistically.

Nobody actually writes data to tape and stores it for 20 years to check its longevity. Instead they try to stress the tape by keeping it at elevated temperatures and then trying to correlate its performance with archival life under optimal conditions.

Just a long winded way of saying that nobody really knows.

I think you should be fine for 5 or 10 year, maybe 20, but I wouldn't necessarily think you could give the tapes to your great-grandcildren and expect them to see great results.

More to the point, however, I doubt that your great-grandchildren will be able to find anything that will actually play the tapes back.

The best way to keep information forever is to keep it on a computer system hard disk that gets backed up religiously and migrated to new technology on a continuous basis as technology changes.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 04:28 PM   #4
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I use a HV10 and sony tapes (want to stick the one brand and that was the first I got). I have the same concerns as yourself as to longevity and I would suggest the following ( I am assuming you have a computer and DVD burner ) which is how I do it. I take the original tape (master) and run it onto the computer to an external HDD (copy 1) , I then use mpegstreamclip to convert it to mp4avc and put a copy of this onto another external hard drive connected to my PSŁ and then burn two copies to dvd (7-8mpbs runs to about 3.5gb per hour so easily fits on dvd) one of which lives in my locker and the other at home. Basically 5 copies across 3 media types. A little over the top perhaps but its pretty much what I follow for my photography, HDD and multiple DVD copies in multiple locations. Dont worry so much about the longevity of the tapes as to be honest there is probably very little difference and never ever rely on one format or copy. Sods law is that in 20 years time if you only have tapes the tapes will be fine but youll have a tough time finding a player on ebay. better to keep the master played as little as possible and keep multiple digital copies that you can migrate.
If you have the spends look into a blu ray burner then you can easily backup the m2t files but in all honesty 8mbps mp4 is pretty high quality.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 04:38 PM   #5
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Hi Gerald,

I agree with Jim and Richard, I've still got some VHS tapes from the dawn of public aquired Video, that play fine. I used Video equipment before you could get it on the street.

At this point, I would do the DV Mini Tape (HV30), and keep the tapes as long as possible, along with archiving to Hard Disk Drives, and soon to Blu Ray.

I also copy the most important tapes and store them "off site" to reduce risk of loss - due to theft, fire, etc.

Sans having two Recorders, storing one of your archive media (HDD's or Blu Ray) "off site" is / could be of value.

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Old July 14th, 2008, 07:09 AM   #6
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I completely agree on the storage issue. The college where I work still maintains an old Studer 24 track tape machine so that they can access stuff off their old audio recordings when they need it. By contrast, I was running two Alesis ADAT XT machines in my personal studio and when I got an ADAT HD, I copied all my tapes to the hard drives and sold the old tape machines. When I bought the tape machines five years ago I paid upwards of $800 each for them on E-Bay. When I sold them earlier this spring, I got $300 for both on E-Bay (those machines were $1600 each new when they hit the market about ten years ago). Moral of the story? Tape is fading. Quickly. Yeah, its a cheap (sort of) storage media, but if you can't find something to play it back with in 20 years, or if you spend money trying to maintain an old piece of equipment (like my school does), then you're missing the point of archival.

With the crazy cheap prices of hard drives these days, you can't afford not to be backing up your tape on hard drive. I'd just dump the tapes, myself--once you have at least two backups in different physical locations.
David Beisner
Media Specialist, Bryan College, Dayton, TN --
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