A client asked me a great videotape to DVD question today…
“Which is the best way to ensure that my videotapes and cine films you’ve converted to DVD last as long as possible? They’re very precious family memories and I don’t just want these to last for a few years – but basically forever!”
First of all, I’m not talking here about how to create the best quality conversion from one media to another but rather advising a client on the best solution for ensuring longevity once analogue videotape to DVD (VHS, 8mm, VHS-C…) has been carried out.
If they wanted to know how to squeeze every last drop of quality out of their original material and digitize it into the best possible file type for storage or playback, that would be a whole different series of blogs!
Making your videotape to DVD conversions last forever
Once digitised on to DVD you can copy the disks as many times as you like, without further loss of quality. It’s quite a simple process on a PC and once copied there you can back-up the files to DVD or USB stick. I would personally do both.
Recordable DVDs are based on an organic material within a layer in the DVD being burnt with a laser; and through poor handling, storage, excessive light exposure, repeated playback and faulty playback machines, this layer can become corrupt over time. The solid state memory on a USB stick is more robust (albeit that you still have to care for it), but not currently so accommodating for playing back the media files they contain.
To further secure the data you could also back these USB sticks up to an online cloud storage facility. However, each DVD will contain up to 4.7GB of data, so this might take considerable time to upload.
What Video Artisan offer as a solution
In these situations we first suggest an additional DVD copy of each videotape transferred (see pricing here) and suggest these are stored away in a sealed box, in a dry and reasonably stable temperature environment (not the loft). Whilst the longevity of recordable DVDs is not actually known, stored in these conditions they should definitely last a lifetime.
Once converted to DVD (see prices here) we can then show clients how to copy the files to a USB stick, or offer to provide the whole service (supply of an 8GB USB stick and copying the video files to them) at an additional cost of £10 per converted tape.
Making these digital files last forever is then just a matter of the client (and everyone who comes after them) keeping on backing up or copying the digital files to whatever technology happens to evolve. That’s the hard part!