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Re: [ARSCLIST] Hard disk drives and DAT

Hi David, and Andy:

I think your comments point out a really key thing to consider -- there just has to be selective preservation. Before a pile of material is even put next to a playback machine, some serious thought needs to go to:

1. is this pile worth the time, money and long-term/on-going cost or is this material available elsewhere? This will require much better coordination and public-availability of already-digitized material than I have seen in the world of institutions and libraries so far.

2. if this pile is worth the time, money and cost, is the original media in immediate need of transfer/digitization or can it sit on the shelf? This is a key decision. I'd argue that anyone with a lot of DATs who is not vigorously transferring them and has a plan to manage the new media onto which they are transferring is in for a very sorry day when they finally get around to the DATs. However, why is so much effort spent on grooved disks? They will last a very long time under proper storage conditions. If you have anything on any sort of magnetic tape, it is a proven finite medium, and its lifetime is likely short. So get on that first. But first, see point 1 and make sure someone else hasn't already covered the same material somewhere else.

3. for a small archive, you can manage your hard drives yourself. You just need to learn the facts and budget to keep replacing and migrating drives. Drives just don't cost too much, so there should always be a couple of thousand a year in the budget for that. Don't be blinded by the light of the Latest and Greatest. If you have a migrated, managed and redundant system that works for you, stick with it as long as you can and it becomes more and more cost effective as time passes. Drives get cheaper and cheaper per byte. Software "upgrades" or "paradigm shifts" do not.

4. the fact that data management and upkeep will be a fact of life and one of your growing and on-going costs from here on should make you reassess what you're doing in-house. Is it really worthwhile to maintain old and finicky analog playback equipment when you can probably out-source the transfer for much less money? Is it a good personnel decision to hire an audio equipment expert instead of a database and IT expert? Each institution needs to address this on their own basis, but I'd argue that your job is shifting more toward IT than you might think or like. But like it or not, time moves where it moves and none of us can stop it.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "David Seubert" <seubert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 12:38 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Hard disk drives and DAT

I'm with Andy on this 100%. I was at a conference a few weeks ago and the buzz now is Trusted Digital Repositories and furthermore, the certification of TDRs. There is already a two-tiered system developing where there are those with the expertise and money to store digital data in properly and those that can't. For the latter, outsourcing the storage to OCLC isn't really an option--it's just too expensive and homebrewed solutions (Costco RAID) aren't going to impress funders. I'm guessing that in a couple of years if you don't have a certified TDR you aren't going to get grants. And that's a shame, because there is a lot of content out there that is at risk held by institutions that won't ever be able to afford to build (and maintain) a TDR.

I think the solution is regional, consortial, or discipline-based networks where the little folks can park their data cheaply or for free, but we aren't there yet and it will be years before we are there. Until then, people need options. I'm not in love with CD-R (or LTO--it's tape for heaven's sake) and storing hard drives on shelves can't be the whole solution, but I think that some combination of these are a reasonable option. If a combination of these can get an institution through the next ten years until they've got someplace to park their data online in a system that is monitoring data and verifying checksums, etc., then great.

David Seubert

andy kolovos wrote:

While I fully agree with what Tom and others are saying regarding managed storage, there's another level here that you guys seem simply to be dismissing--what do individuals and institutions who lack funds do to manage digital assets on a short-to-medium term basis? I still feel external HDD has a place in a lower cost, comprehensive digital asset management plan for people and organizations with limited funding and access to technology.

Local historical societies here in VT are generating digital image files (for example) up the wazoo. As their oral history projects move into the born digital domain, they're accumulating digital audio files as well. Most of these organizations lack any budget outside of good will. What would you have them do with these materials? Not do interviews? Not scan old images? Better to recommend a combo of optical disc and multiple external HDD than have their files only sitting on the system drive of their 8 year old Compaq or on a pile of Staples CD-Rs alone.

While managed, redundant, backed up, server-based storage is an ideal and a goal, we as a field need to come up with some acceptable second tier recommendations as well.


Rob Poretti wrote:
Thanks Tom... You put a "grimmer" face on it, but you are 100% correct.

Rob Poretti
Sascom - Toronto
vox.905.825.5373    fax.905.469.1129     cel.905.580.2467
www.sascom.com    www.cube-tec.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:ARSCLIST@xxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Tom Fine
Sent: March 26, 2007 5:49 PM
To: ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Hard disk drives and DAT

I hope Richard and/or Parker and/or Spec Bros. jump in here. The ONLY answer is managed and constantly migrated storage. You simply cannot live by the old "put it on a shelf in a clean, cool room" idea anymore. Digital storage must be in constant motion -- literally since hard drives have been known to fail or never start up again if left idle on a shelf (ask around Hollywood, everyone has a horror story or two). You have to plan to have a "living" hard drive array that is redundant, preferably with a constantly mirrored clone at a different location, and plan on swapping out drives every XX hours of use or at worst when they inevitably fail. There are firms that do this on an out-source basis, I think. I believe the 90's dot-bomb term was "storage farms." Some of them are actually located in old bomb shelters and missle bunkers.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "andy kolovos" <akolovos@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 5:00 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Hard disk drives and DAT


As a short-to-medium-term storage solution--and as a part of a more comprehensive
approach--multiple HDD is the best most of us can do at
this point in time.
I prefer Maxtor and Western Digital drives, and I favor those that come in enclosures that offer
FireWire and an on/off switch. Very vexing to have no
on/off switch.
In some cases it can be more cost effective to purchase Maxtor/WD internal drives, reliable
external enclosures and build them yourself. I've had good
luck with the "Neptune" line of
enclosures from Other World Computing
osure-kits) and have heard good
things about their "Mercury Elite" enclosures as well.

As others have mentioned, just like Coco Puffs are part of a complete breakfast that includes
toast, juice and etc., external HDD is part of comprehensive, lower-cost storage
approach that
includes optical disc and linear tape.

Not all of us can swing a RAID array. Do the best you can with what you have.



Andy Kolovos
Vermont Folklife Center
3 Court Street ; P.O. Box 442
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 388-4964
akolovos @ vermontfolklifecenter.org http://www.vermontfolklifecenter.org

David Seubert, Curator
Performing Arts Collection
Davidson Library
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9010
Tel: 805-893-5444 Fax: 805-893-5749

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