I’ve had a few hard drives fail in the past but luckily didn’t lose anything too valuable. But I get paranoid that something I put a lot of time into will be lost forever with a drive crash. I routinely back up original media to a separate drive, and the Final Cut Autosave Vault has saved me many times, but when I’m done with a project I needed a way to archive everything. A long-form video project can eat up from 300 to 600gb so I needed something that can handle that amount of data, be relatively stable and cheaper than just buying more 3tb hard drives.
A lot of pros recommend archiving to LTO tape systems, but those drives are over $1000 and the tapes aren’t cheap either. So I started archiving video projects to Blu-Ray discs as a cheaper alternative. They hold up to 25gb per disk (50gb on double layer disks) and are rated to last up to 50 years — a lot longer than hard drives or tape.
I picked up an internal LG 12X Blu-Ray burner ($87 from 3btech.net) and installed it in the second bay of my Mac Pro in about 10 minutes. After researching different brands of media it looks like Sony Blu-Ray discs are consistently rated highly, and I found 50-disc packs for about $75. I used Toast Titanium 10 to gather all the files from various on-line drives, and set them up for burning. Toast will automatically span as many discs as needed for a large archive.
To keep things to a reasonable size I archive the original camera and audio files and everything from the project except render files and transcoded media since those can be recreated from the originals if needed. A recent long-form project with about 3.5 hours of final video took 14 Blu-Ray discs to archive, costing about $21 for materials. Each disc takes about 15 minutes to burn and verify, but you can work on other things while waiting.
A boring task, but I figure it’s good for clients to know you’ve got their material archived, and it’s good for your own peace of mind.