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advice request: storing images on CD
Old 12-16-2015   #1
FrankS
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advice request: storing images on CD

I'm a newbie on this so be gentle. Any advice on storing photos on CD welcome. For instance: CD or DVD?
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Old 12-16-2015   #2
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I wouldn't do it. I lost all the pictures I had burned to cd's after only a couple of years. Most were only partially readable. Only a handful were okay, and these were the ones stored label down (these were in double cd jewel cases).

Luckily this was before I went digital, so I still have the original slides and negatives.

External disks hold more content, and are faster to read from and write to.
Cloud storage isn't bad either.
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Old 12-16-2015   #3
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CDs have barely any capacity given the size of modern high-res photo files (85MB each on my RX1RII), DVDs are not much better. As for longevity, the NIST and Library of Congress did a very thorough survey on the subject: http://loc.gov/preservation/resource...cLongevity.pdf

A good starting point is the dpBestFlow guidelines on backup: http://dpbestflow.org/links/39

Otherwise here is my take on the subject: https://majid.info/blog/digital-imag...atters/#backup

Whatever you do, do NOT use flash memory like SD or CF cards as a backup medium. The data on idle flash media can be lost in as little as one year.
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Old 12-16-2015   #4
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I save my images on several external drives as DNG files, and I save on my computer the jpg versions of these images. Get two 1TB drives, Frank. They are cheap these days. One drive is a back-up drive.I also save images (again) at smugmug.
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Old 12-16-2015   #5
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Ditto advice on the external hard drives. I actually back up to two, at intervals, and keep one in my business office. High resolution files fill up even DVDs quickly.

However, one extra thing that I do for family photos is to send my relatives the very best ones on DVDs, and at least a few years ago, Taiyo Uden brand CDs and DVDs were much more highly regarded than the usual types you can find in an office supply store in terms of likely longevity. I try (and usually fail) to be disciplined about this because most of the younger relatives are shooting all their photos on phones, sometimes downloading them to a computer, and the odds are slight that those images will be around for them to look at in probably very few years. If they lose the discs, or don't bother to update the files to some future new format, I feel like I have at least tried to do my bit for family history posterity.
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Old 12-16-2015   #6
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I do have a Seagate 1TB external hard drive. Is that flash memory?
The CD/DVD storage is a redundancy.
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Old 12-16-2015   #7
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Get a second one as back-up.
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Old 12-16-2015   #8
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Oh, and I've got Dropbox as well.
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Old 12-16-2015   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
I do have a Seagate 1TB external hard drive. Is that flash memory?
The CD/DVD storage is a redundancy.
Nope, spinning disks are not flash.

My backup is and has been redundant hard drives.
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Old 12-16-2015   #10
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I'd be using an external hard drive and replacing it every few years .... they are not exactly expensive.

So .... shoe box in the attic not good enough for you? LOL
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Old 12-16-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
I'd be using an external hard drive and replacing it every few years .... they are not exactly expensive.

So .... shoe box in the attic not good enough for you? LOL
Not any more, apparently! Progress?
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Old 12-16-2015   #12
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A regular 1TB drive for ~$100 will not be flash storage. Flash drives are called SSD (solid state drives) and you're currently looking at ~$300+ for 1TB.

All digital storage mediums have eventual archival reliability problems (as does film and paper). The best is probably to periodically, but regularly, migrate your digital files to new media. A problem though is if files have become corrupted in the interim. They'll just be copied over as is to the new media. There is software that will ensure each copy is an exact one. So if a file is known to be good, it will be copied exactly. In my experience so far with hard drives (I have many), file corruption is rare. It's more usual for a drive to just die. Hard drives apparently also don't like to just sit unused for a long time. They need some exercise for all the internal moving parts to keep working properly.

Definitely also use something like Dropbox or Google Drive, or whatever Microsoft offers, or Amazon's AWS, etc. By putting your files in the 'cloud' you essentially let someone else a lot more technically competent worry about all this media reliability and redundancy stuff. It's their jobs to ensure your data persists. About the biggest risk with these services is if they go bust. But I suspect Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple probably won't. In any case, cloud storage is meant as a backup to your own 'local' storage. Don't ever rely on only one.

As for what happens to your stuff after you pass... that's definitely another topic. But also an interesting one.
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Old 12-16-2015   #13
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I started an experiment around 10 years ago. Favorite songs were recorded on music CD`s and I left them in the car I used for work which was parked in open, 0 deg some winter days, 125+ in summer. One CD has a small glitch on one cut.

Still it is a crappy idea. Use multiple hard drives, work duplicated.
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Old 12-16-2015   #14
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CD deteriorate over time.. I made that mistake 12 years ago.

My digital photo library is on external 3TB HD. The backup is also external HD but smaller since it only contains the contents for 1 to 2 years worth of photo. It gets replace even if not full by end of second year. The old drive is store away.

When the 3tb external main photo drive get filled, I get the next bigger HD and copy the contents to it. Put the old drive into storage. At that point the smaller HD that were in storage get recycled since the just put away old main drive has the all their data

All disk drive have a mean time to failure (mtf).

Consumer brand disk usually never have that info publish versus enterprise grade. Mtf is a derived statistically arrived data point based on forced over usuage testing. Even w/ a very high mtf, that does mean the drive might fail very short of the mtf. It could be cause by overheating or bumping the drive by accident when the head is seeking to the next track.

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Old 12-17-2015   #15
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Agree on unreliability of CD's. I have some have developed "bubbles".
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Old 12-17-2015   #16
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you can try this
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Old 12-17-2015   #17
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Nothing is forever. Especially digital stuff. I do use external hard drives and so far so good. Digital is the medium used now, as to its longetivity, it's too new and I don't know. I do have CDs I burned from 2005 and I checked a few of them and they still work. Some folks I know make paper copies of digital photos and keep, just in case. Is film the way to go? All this redundancy with digital, is it necessary? Didn't do all this with film! Maybe my grand children will find out.

I believe film, especially black and white negatives, will last a long time. I have family negatives taken in the 1930's that still look just fine. Someday I will digitize them so as I can work with 21st century technology, like photoshop, email and the internet.
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Old 12-17-2015   #18
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Get two or more backup drives and backup in tandem. I use one drive to drop all of my files there. When I am done processing those files I want to keep, I backup to two drives as well the Cloud. Amazon has a great deal. Don't keep any images you like on your computer. All drives fail eventually. One can never have enough backups of digital media.
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Old 12-17-2015   #19
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I would use DVDs instead of CDs. There will be less of them to keep track of. The longevity of storage depends on the quality of the media, environmental conditions and luck. DVD/CD long-term storage does not enjoy a robust reputation. This is probably because more variables affect their longevity. If you decide to use CD/DVD storage do not buy the least expensive media you can find (well... you could use dirt cheap media, but then it would be a good idea to make redundant back ups on a quarterly basis).

If you have an Amazon'Prime account you receive unlimited Cloud photo storage. If I remember correctly, they support raw image storage. If you you purchase items from Amazon, have a Kindle, stream Amazon's audio or video content this is a cost effective photo storage solution.

A 1 TB external drive is about $60 (which is also less than the $99 Amazon Prime annual fee). Even though you need two drives (because is is prudent to back up your back up) this is still less expensive than Amazon Prime. The external drive backups can be executed and managed automatically by inexpensive Apps.

I don't know about limits for DropBox or the numerous other free Cloud storage options.

I think Flickr still offers free unlimited JPEG storage. All you have to do is make sure your image preferences are automatically set to the most private settings so only you can see the images. However I speculate downloading in mass in case of a local data catastrophe could be extremely inconvenient. To be complete even with a fast internet connection, disaster recover from any Cloud solution is slow.
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Old 12-17-2015   #20
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Thanks for all your advice!

I'm set for a while. Today's mail brought a kind and generous gift from B2, in the form of a DVD writer with a single usb connector that will work for my macbook air. Thank you Bill!
Between an ext. hard drive, DropBox, and regular export to dvd, I should be good.
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Old 12-17-2015   #21
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Be sure to get archival DVD's if you insist on going that way. JVC markets what are supposed to be the best. Standard disc media will oxidize after time. I've lost all of 2009 because I didn't know that.
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Old 12-17-2015   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darthfeeble View Post
Be sure to get archival DVD's if you insist on going that way. JVC markets what are supposed to be the best. Standard disc media will oxidize after time. I've lost all of 2009 because I didn't know that.
Thanks. Here's a question based on your mention of oxidization: Do DVD's age and oxidize the same with and without data stored on them? Let's say I bought 2 disks and I copy image files onto one of them. Two years later I copy images onto the second one. Is the integrity of the data just as bad on both disks or is it worse on the first one I copied files onto?

I'm exposing my ignorance of digital image archiving here so please be gentle.
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Old 12-17-2015   #23
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If you store them properly you will never have any problems with them. I still have CDs dating back from 1994 that have developed no problems at all.
See here what can cause problems to your discs.

I prefer CD/DVD/Blue ray discs for long term storage. Why? Simply because a hard drive might fail from a simple mechanical or electronic failure, or get damaged if knocked hard (e.g. drop on the floor). And in that case, due to their large capacity all stored in there is gone.
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Old 12-18-2015   #24
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I look after archival storage for our company, and we use what has been suggested here: a dual approach of hard disks (multiple copies of our files on external hard drives and in the cloud) and physical media (DVD-R).

The DVD-Rs to buy are Verbatim UltraLife Gold Archival - they're currently the best out there for reliable, long-term storage according to tests (e.g. http://www.datamate.fi/palvelut/verbatimtesti,* and are reasonably priced. Note that just because a DVD labels itself "archival" doesn't mean it is - reliability is important: Kodak Gold DVDs are marketed with a life of 100 years but they're known to be flaky - although most are long lived, too many fail after just a few months (unlike Verbatim's Ultralife - which have very few failures).

I consider Verbatim's claim of "up to 100 years" to be an honest one.

[* Actually, there is a better DVD: Syylex's glass DVD, which is pretty much indestructible. But it costs £150 ($225) per disk!]


Tips on long-term archiving
  • Choose file types in common use (and will continue to be), especially if governed by official standards when possible/sensible (like TIFF). Consider using two file formats. For example, we always save graphics files as JPG and TIFF. When I'm backing up my personal photographs, I save my Raw files in their native format but also convert them to Adobe DNG (which will soon be the ISO standard Raw format - regardless of the fact that camera manufacturers will continue to ignore it for commercial reasons!).
  • Always burn two copies of a DVD - it's extremely unlikely that both will fail.
  • Handle and store archive DVDs carefully - here's a good overview: http://hubpages.com/technology/How-l...CD-or-DVD-last
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Old 12-18-2015   #25
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Thank you! I'm learning.
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use a back-up external drive for the external drive
Old 12-18-2015   #26
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use a back-up external drive for the external drive

That's why a second drive is needed for each drive used.


Quote:
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If you store them properly you will never have any problems with them. I still have CDs dating back from 1994 that have developed no problems at all.
See here what can cause problems to your discs.

I prefer CD/DVD/Blue ray discs for long term storage. Why? Simply because a hard drive might fail from a simple mechanical or electronic failure, or get damaged if knocked hard (e.g. drop on the floor). And in that case, due to their large capacity all stored in there is gone.
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Old 12-18-2015   #27
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The DVD-Rs to buy are Verbatim UltraLife Gold Archival
Using gold (rather than aluminium) coated discs is a CD era recommendation - while better than nothing in that it helps against fading reflective layers, that cannot really cure the flaws of the underlying design whose main weakness is the organic substrate holding the actual information. 25 years later, a fair amount of my expensive "archival" Kodak Gold Pro Photo CDs have flaws - even if the gold layer has not faded, the organic dyes storing the information often have. And DVD is the same chemistry, at a higher density to make matters worse.

There is a DVD medium that actually was designed for archival storage: DVD-RAM - hard sectored disks (with a characteristic chequerboard pattern), which use a inorganic pigment. In simulation tests these have had upwards of ten times the longevity of the best DVD+-R types. DVD-RAM has no counterpart in CD or Blueray size. Pretty much every drive sold in the last ten years can read and write them, but write speeds are slow compared to DVD+-R, only 3x speed media (the fastest defined to be archival grade) are easily obtainable. I have been using these for a decade, and so far none have failed.

Another, more recent option are M-Discs - these use a (different) inorganic substrate, and are not hard sectored, which can be an advantage if you want to bulk copy them in the future. These exist in in DVD and Blueray format, and either can only be written on Blueray drives (which are recent enough that the M-Disc burn strategy is in their firmware), as they need a more powerful laser for writing than present in DVD drives. Proprietary standard, and a single maker, so they are expensive, and have no support by any standards body - but once written, every Blueray capable player (and many DVD ones) can play them back. The makers claim 1000 years archival storage - but even ten years would already be a respectable age compared to regular DVD+-R or BD-R discs (which already have 30% failure rates around the 5 year mark)...
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Old 12-18-2015   #28
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Does one need a special DVD player/burner to use these DVD-RAM discs?
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my MacBook backup strategy
Old 12-18-2015   #29
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my MacBook backup strategy

I suspect backup strategies can be nearly as contentious a topic as film vs digital. Or stand development. There are many good strategies and protocols. Some cost more, some less. Some require more work from you, some less. It's a personal choice.

I've been a MacBook user since 2009. This is what I've settled on after a few hiccups along the way. Once configured, it just works. I don't have to remember anything, or swap anything.
  • MacBook Air
  • Apple AirPort Time Capsule (on-site storage)
  • Apple Time Machine (backup software)
  • CrashPlan (cloud storage)
I have an Apple AirPort Time Capsule connected to my cable modem. This acts as my Wi-Fi base station, and provides 2TB of storage.

I use Apple's Time Machine software (included in OS X) to manage daily backups to the Time Capsule. There is other backup software available, but Time Machine and the Time Capsule work together seamlessly.

I use CrashPlan's service (Code42.com/crashplan) to backup to the cloud. There is a small monthly charge for this, but a free version is available, for which you supply the backup computer. This could be a friend or family member's computer, for example, and the CrashPlan backs up your computer to your friend's. There are other cloud storage options, but CrashPlan was well reviewed. One nice feature with CrashPlan and comparable solutions is in the event of a failure, they can send you the backup on a hard drive.

I haven't needed CrashPlan yet, but have used the Time Capsule backup several times in the past - once to restore after a hard disk died, and several times to migrate to new machines.

I'm new to digital photography so most of my backup experience is more related to business data, but this is the mantra I've adopted:

** Save your work, early and often, and backup daily. Then backup the backup.**

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Old 12-18-2015   #30
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Frank - do you have a free dropbox account (limit 2gb) or do you pay the annual subscription for unlimited storage? If the latter, then IMHO that would be preferable to CD's or DVD's as a redundant solution in addition to HD's.
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Old 12-18-2015   #31
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Does one need a special DVD player/burner to use these DVD-RAM discs?
Any reasonably modern one will write 3-5x DVD-RAM - the only one I ever had that did not support them dated back to 1999 and cost a small fortune. Faster media are a different matter - but both media and drives supporting them are not available outside Japan.
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Old 12-18-2015   #32
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Frank - do you have a free dropbox account (limit 2gb) or do you pay the annual subscription for unlimited storage? If the latter, then IMHO that would be preferable to CD's or DVD's as a redundant solution in addition to HD's.
Free drop box, + 1 external usb hard drive, + DVD's

Sounds like soon I should be buying a second external hard drive.
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Old 12-18-2015   #33
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Quote:
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Free drop box, + 1 external usb hard drive, + DVD's

Sounds like soon I should be buying a second external hard drive.
I would. In my case, I just use hard drives that I have replaced with larger units, so I have a dozen or so 500 gb drives and about 3 or 4 1 terabyte drives. Disk drives are cheap, even for me, a notorious cheapskate. It's simple to take a raw drive and hook it up to a USB interface and plug it into the PC.

I have over 100,000 photos stored last time I checked. I keep them organized by year, month, day. I fiddle around with scripts to extract metadata (exif) and organize search by tag, but I haven't done it completely yet. A to-do for when I have more time.

Hard drives fail - that's a given. But multiple hard drives reduce the risk; the chances of two or more failing at the same time is lower, especially if they're not both online at the same time (power spikes, lightning, etc).

Ideally, I would still be following my old pattern - when I worked in Detroit and lived in NC, I would go home about twice a year and bring a hard drive with me, which I would leave behind and bring the previous one back. That way, even if my apartment building burned down, the most I could lose would be six months worth of photos and that's if I lost EVERYTHING in one location.

I no longer have that situation (happily we are all together in MI now) but I'd like to work up a similar solution again; it's the lowest possible risk level I can come up with and a) keep everything under my own control and b) on the cheap.
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Old 12-18-2015   #34
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I am always amazed at the trouble folks have with CD drives, I no longer back up to them, but I have many CDs from my first CD burner which came inside my Macintosh Quadra 660AV, purchased in 1994. It had a SONY burner, all the disks are perfect today. They were all SONY disks, sold by Apple under their brand.

Go figure...
I have similarly never had problem with burned CDs of any type. They all work, going back to the early days of writable CDs for me. Some have even been abused; stepped on, scratched, etc. Haven't lost a single bit yet.

I am not saying it doesn't happen or accusing anyone of lying. If they say it happened to them, I believe them. But it has never happened to me.

I do not keep my photos (or music) on CD/DVD for the simple reason that it's not economical for me, due to the size of both collections. Also because I'm far too lazy for that.
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Old 12-18-2015   #35
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I really appreciate all your responses, thank you!
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Old 12-18-2015   #36
Darthfeeble
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Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
Thanks. Here's a question based on your mention of oxidization: Do DVD's age and oxidize the same with and without data stored on them? Let's say I bought 2 disks and I copy image files onto one of them. Two years later I copy images onto the second one. Is the integrity of the data just as bad on both disks or is it worse on the first one I copied files onto?

I'm exposing my ignorance of digital image archiving here so please be gentle.
And mine. I think that it has to do with the quality of the disk and certainly storage conditions. I doubt that the act of writing makes them more susceptible to oxidation so if the batch is prone to it I would think that the unwritten disk would be a problem too. The ones that lost my data were a batch of cheapies and that's what you get with that sort of thing nearly all the time. None of the other years of storage were lost at that time and I've not checked them since about 2012. When I lost the one year, I put everything on multiple hard drives. Should a hard drive fail, they usually have the info still on them and it can be retrieved. Not cheaply however.
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Old 12-18-2015   #37
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external hard drives seem to always be on sale someplace...don't think i've ever paid full price for one...
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Old 12-18-2015   #38
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That is my take on the topic:
https://www.synology.com/en-global/products/DS415+

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Old 12-18-2015   #39
sevo
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I have similarly never had problem with burned CDs of any type. They all work, going back to the early days of writable CDs for me. Some have even been abused; stepped on, scratched, etc.
The odd thing is that we have abused ones around, with more than a decade of daily jingle duty, that look as if they could not play a sound any more, while others cease to play two weeks from the original broadcast. YMMV - it really depends on the individual media and burners. But where archives are concerned, we have about 20% loss on CDs after a decade, and more than 50% after twenty years. Arguably many of the latter are from a batch of Kodaks they had to recall and for which we were already compensated many years ago. With DVD-RAM and M-Disc we are still at 0% after 11 respectively 4 years (MOD and MD had barely any losses after more than twenty years - but unfortunately these are already extinct media, and most playback devices we had have already died, with no new ones available any more).
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Old 12-18-2015   #40
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