Is M-Disc the ultimate archive medium for SMBs and home users?

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This week we talk about this exciting “new” medium for archiving data that is especially attractive to SMBs and home users. It’s an optical disc that looks like a DVD and is readable in all Blu-Ray drives, but underneath it’s something very different. If you haven’t heard of it, then you’re in luck! Thanks to Daniel Rosehill, backup anorak and friend of the show, we’re going to talk about it – and its competitors on this week’s episode! We discuss the good and bad about using all of the following for archiving: paper, SSD, disk, tape, DVD, Blu-Ray, ending with M-Disc. Learn what’s wrong with these other mediums, and what’s so great about this one in another fun episode of Restore it All!


[00:00:00] W. Curtis Preston: Hi, and welcome to Backup Central’s Restore it all podcast. I’m your host w Curtis Preston, AKA Mr. Backup. And I have with me, my spousal sickness consultant, Prasanna Malaiyandi how’s it going Prasanna?

[00:00:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I don’t like to be your spousal sick consultant,

[00:00:34] W. Curtis Preston: know, you know,

[00:00:35] Prasanna Malaiyandi: that means that your spouse is sick. How’s she doing by the way?

[00:00:38] W. Curtis Preston: she’s not doing too well. She said she doesn’t have COVID so we got that, but I think she, I think she, um, I think she’s got the flu, like the good old, the good old flu. She, she never gets sick. Like me. I don’t get sick very much and she doesn’t get sick very much. And, uh, she’s um, you know, without, without medication she’s popping a a hundred degree fever and, you know, stuff like that, but she’s, you know, spirits are good,


[00:01:05] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I think, especially during the pandemic, the hard part is since everyone’s been isolating for the most part,

[00:01:10] W. Curtis Preston: yeah.

[00:01:11] Prasanna Malaiyandi: People haven’t been getting like the common cold, the flu, like the normal stuff that we have.

[00:01:16] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah,

[00:01:17] Prasanna Malaiyandi: that things are opening up again, people are interacting right.

All the rest of that. It’s like, oh yeah. All those things that we used to get. Yeah. They’re coming back.

[00:01:25] W. Curtis Preston: And she’s, she’s convinced that she got it. When I took her to go see, uh, top gun

[00:01:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Hmm.

[00:01:32] W. Curtis Preston: which as you know, was my third time seeing it, um,

[00:01:36] Prasanna Malaiyandi: you have any comments you wanna give the listeners regarding top gun?

[00:01:42] W. Curtis Preston: You know, top gun is a hoot. Like, I mean, if you, by the time this comes out, if you haven’t seen it, I don’t even know what to tell you because by the time this comes out, it might even, well, it’ll probably still be in the theaters, but. Yeah. Uh, if you haven’t seen it at this point, please go see it. I mean, a, the movie business, believe it or not can use your money. and we want the, we want the movie business to survive. Um, you know, I’m a big fan of it. We, you know, we need escape, right? We need, and this is. As good as it gets in terms of escapism. There’s some patriotism in there without being too overt.

[00:02:27] Prasanna Malaiyandi: mm-hmm.

[00:02:28] W. Curtis Preston: there’s, you know, there is an unnamed bad guy country.

[00:02:34] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And for those folks who’ve seen the original love, the original and think that, oh, sequels never live up to the

[00:02:41] W. Curtis Preston: This is, this is one of those rare cases where the sequel is better than the original. Um, there are a few movies that, that, that accomplish that I can think of Godfather Two, um, Toy Story Two, right there. There there’s like a handful of movies that are as good at if, if not better. And this is one where I wholeheartedly would say.

Better. It’s a better story. It’s certainly better. Plane scenes. Right. And, and all the flight scenes are a thousand times better than I, I watched the original top gun the other day, just to sort of compare the plane scenes. It’s not even close because back then they had to film actual planes. right. And now they film actual planes too, but they intermix it with special effects planes and, and 3d rendered planes.

And, and they just, they just do things that just aren’t possible.

[00:03:38] Prasanna Malaiyandi: that.

[00:03:39] W. Curtis Preston: You know that yeah. That weren’t possible back then. And the, and the story’s really good and the acting’s good, you know, the characters are all good. And, uh, yeah, it’s just, it’s just a good movie. It’s certainly my favorite movie of the year.

I mean, I don’t know if it’s gonna get best picture or anything, you know, it’s not the kind of movie that wins the best picture, but

[00:03:57] Prasanna Malaiyandi: and, and here’s the question for you? Have you talked about it on the other podcast yet with Jeff Rochlin?

[00:04:03] W. Curtis Preston: I, uh, well, I’m waiting for Jeff to see it because that, that is a, that is a spoiler full podcast. Right. So we, you know, we don’t pull any punches. So we say it right in the beginning, spoilers, you know, spoiler alert. And so we haven’t talked with him about it yet, but

[00:04:21] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Okay. So for our listeners who go watch the movie, go check out the other podcast. If you want to hear

[00:04:27] W. Curtis Preston: is the things that entertain us, which Jeff Rochlin as the host and I as the co-host.

So that makes three podcasts that I’m currently on. Um, so

[00:04:40] Prasanna Malaiyandi: of that third podcast, you wanna throw out our disclaimer?

[00:04:44] W. Curtis Preston: Oh, yeah, absolutely. So yes, my employer is Druva. Uh, Prasanna’s employer is Zoom. This is not a podcast of either company. This is an independent podcast and the, the opinions that you hear are ours and be sure you rate us at or.

Um, just go to, you know, if you’re, if, if you’re, if you’re on apple podcast, let’s, let’s face it. Most of you are just scroll down to the bottom. You get the stars, click the stars, give the comments and, um, you know, and it helps us, it helps other people, uh, find us. And then also, if you’re interested in the kind of things that, that we’re interested in, we’re gonna talk about something today that this is sort of like a full circle.

We, we, we got a guest on here. Because he is a backup anorak, which is a word for someone that, that is, you know, very enthused about these things. And we backup anaraks is what we’re all about baby. And so we had, we had Daniel on Daniel Rose Hill. Um, and then I, interestingly enough, I interacted with him.

Totally not even realizing I, I was interacting with him on a. On a Reddit thread didn’t even realize it was, it was Daniel that I was that I was interacting with and he didn’t realize I was in Reddit. And then anyway, so we’re the, the thing we’re gonna talk about today is inspired by the thread that I ended up interacting with on Daniel.

So this, this was for you buddy.

[00:06:14] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah,

[00:06:15] W. Curtis Preston: And, um, so yeah, so if you wanna, if you wanna be on the podcast, if you wanna give us ideas, whatever, @wcpreston on Twitter, or wcurtispreston@gmail, and, uh, you know, we’ll make it happen. We’re all about pleasing the listeners out here. ,

[00:06:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Since you talk about pleasing listeners, if you have a topic you would like us to talk about, right? Tweet us, let us know. We are happy to cover to, even if you don’t wanna come on the podcast to talk about it, let us know.

We’re always looking for topics as well.

[00:06:45] W. Curtis Preston: Like this one, this is, this is gonna be an interesting topic that it, that we, we haven’t, we haven’t really covered. I mean, we’ve covered bits and pieces of it, but never the focus coverage. Yeah. So, yeah, so, and, and by the way, I accept all DMS on Twitter. So if you wanna DM me just, just DM away and, um, you know, I don’t have to follow you like the usual way, so, but, uh, what are we gonna talk about Prasanna?

[00:07:09] Prasanna Malaiyandi: today we’re gonna talk about archival storage

[00:07:12] W. Curtis Preston: Archival storage. And is there a king? Um, so we’re gonna talk

[00:07:18] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Tape, no SSD! Flash disc! USB drives. you name it? We’ll talk about it today.

[00:07:24] W. Curtis Preston: these are all the things, and, and let’s just, before we get into that, let’s just. Remind our listeners. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ll I’m just gonna say let’s just cover the topic of archive versus backup real quick.

[00:07:40] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yeah. It’s one It’s one of

[00:07:42] W. Curtis Preston: your

[00:07:42] Prasanna Malaiyandi: favorites.

[00:07:43] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. It was one of my favorite archives.

Not backup. Backup is not archive, backup and restore. That is what most people think of when they think of backups, which is, you know, I’m backing up my stuff in case it goes bye-bye. In case I get ransomware in case my, my laptop just. You know, dies, et cetera. Um, and that should have a relatively short retention.

How long your retention for your personal data? You know, that’s, that’s a different discussion. Business wise. I personally don’t think it should be any more than two years if you’ve got retention and, and, and that’s only because sometimes there’s business files or data that’s only looked at like once a year.

And so, because it’s only looked at by once a year, you, you might not notice that you’re missing it until a year later. And if you only had three months retention, you wouldn’t be able to be able to bring it back.

[00:08:37] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Or for some compliance purposes as

[00:08:39] W. Curtis Preston: Well,

[00:08:40] Prasanna Malaiyandi: which

[00:08:41] W. Curtis Preston: for compliance purposes, I actually think archive is a better, a better, um, solution.

Right? So archive is about. Storing data for long periods of time. There are various reasons. One might do that. One of them is compliance reasons, right? You might have to archive all. So if you’re in the financial trading business, for example, you are required by the SEC to archive, to record and archive all customer communications.

So chat messages, phone messages. Emails, all of that. Um, you’re required to archive that for, I believe, seven years.

[00:09:22] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I think it’s seven years. Yeah.

[00:09:23] W. Curtis Preston: yeah. What’s that

[00:09:25] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. I believe it’s seven years. Yeah.

[00:09:27] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. HIPAA requires you to restore stuff for the patient life plus something. I, I, I don’t remember the details there, but the, which I always wondered about that.

Like, how do you get notified of when your patient died? I don’t know. Anyway. Today, what we’re gonna primarily talk about is about personal archive because business archive, it requires, I, I think, I think my differences for business archive would be different than personal archive because although I think everything I’m gonna say, you can learn from it for, for a business archive, but.

One of the big things that’s gonna come into the discussion here is cost. And with a business you can, you can pretty easily have a cost

[00:10:20] Prasanna Malaiyandi: justify. Yeah.

[00:10:21] W. Curtis Preston: To, to, to spend a lot more money than the average user is gonna gonna do.

[00:10:27] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

[00:10:28] W. Curtis Preston: Um, and so this is, this is about. The stuff that you really don’t wanna say bye to, right?

This is about your, I don’t know, financial records. This is about your pictures of your kids. I lost some pictures of my kids. I hate that. Right. I lost some pictures before I got really serious about archiving my own personal data. Uh, I lost some pictures of some like trips to Europe, uh,

[00:10:51] Prasanna Malaiyandi: these days with smartphones and mirrorless cameras and everything else, right. You’re shooting 4k video. These are lots of data. You wanna make sure you don’t lose that footage, right?

[00:11:02] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. And that, and that’s exactly what happened with me was I switched the medium that I was using to create. I switched, you know, I went from back then. You remember, we used to have cameras

[00:11:12] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:11:13] W. Curtis Preston: when I was moving from, from a to B I didn’t, I wasn’t, I, I just got busy on the new thing and I didn’t think about transferring the old stuff into the new thing.

And before I knew it, it was all gone. So this is about that stuff. Um, And so we’re gonna talk about the options. And I do think there is a, a clear winner here for the home user and, um, which if you’re looking at the title of this, you probably already know what I think the clear winner is, but we should talk about why.

Right. So let’s talk about the option. So the first option I would say is disk, right?

[00:11:52] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Can I make a crazy suggestion even before disk. Printouts. right. Just because, just because

[00:11:59] W. Curtis Preston: for financial records,

[00:12:01] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Or, or even pictures. Right. Having negatives, just because we did have that discussion with, um, Stuart Liddle right. And he said, one of his ways that he had to deal with recovery was data entry because they had printouts back then.

Right. I think a lot of people do forget that. Yes. Having a physical copy and storing that, right. Be it negatives or whatever else is actually a way to archive.

[00:12:27] W. Curtis Preston: It is, I think it’s

well, we’re just, we’re discussing we’re discussing options, right? Um,

[00:12:34] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Not practical, not scalable, but

[00:12:36] W. Curtis Preston: yeah, it’s better. Like if you had printouts of maybe your most cherished photos, I don’t know if you’d create a, I mean, I I’d need, I’ve got way too

[00:12:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: you need a full, you need a house to store all the photos, right.

[00:12:51] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Yeah. But I, you know, financial documents and things like that, I’m actually in the process of converting my, my paper, financial documents into, you know, um, digital ones and then I have to store those.

Right. But, and so I think of the paper option as probably the most, uh, what’s the word, um, Flammable

[00:13:14] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. Yeah. You have to worry about flames. You have to worry about water damage. You have to worry about all those other things. And therefore, probably not the best medium

[00:13:24] W. Curtis Preston: and if you have a bunch of paper getting it out of your house and time of fire is just not gonna happen. Right. Um, so from a digital perspective, there are. I mean, there’s some mediums that really aren’t accessible to the home user or even used anymore. Like we used to use microfish and things like that.


[00:13:46] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I would probably also even throw

[00:13:49] W. Curtis Preston: but which kind of tape,

[00:13:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: tape

[00:13:52] W. Curtis Preston: well, we’re gonna get to LTO. I I’m, but, but the first one I wanted to talk about, which is the one that most people probably think about is portable disc. Um, and I’m gonna, we’re we’re gonna. And I know the one you’re gonna ask about and that’s next, but I’m just talking about regular USB disc and I think that’s a horrible archive.

Medium. Okay. SP portable USB drives, you

[00:14:23] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Oh, flash drives. Thumb drives.

[00:14:26] W. Curtis Preston: thumb, like, you know, these little things, little spinning, hard drives, connected via USB. I think they are. Like least reliable things. Um, you know,

[00:14:42] Prasanna Malaiyandi: with you.

[00:14:43] W. Curtis Preston: you can disagree.

You’re wrong

[00:14:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Right. I think it depends on the drives. Right? So in my mind, I agree that because of everything else we’ve talked about, right. The fact that you have a spinning dish, you’re probably keeping that dish right next to where you keep everything else.

[00:15:04] W. Curtis Preston: I you’re talking about backup. I’m talking about archive.

[00:15:07] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Sure. Um, and because you need to store it for long and disks do periodically have issues.

When you don’t use it for long periods of time, I agree that that’s probably not the best medium, if you wanna keep a piece of data for a hundred years. However, when I think about like what’s available, what’s easily accessible. Right. Um, and the fact that just like in tape, in the past, you would copy things over from one to. I could see a case where yes, I am using disk, but I’m only gonna keep it for four years. And then I’m sort of going to move my archive if you will forward. I know you don’t like that. I know you don’t like that. I know you don’t like that, Curtis, but I’m just talking from a practical sense.

[00:15:56] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah, I just, I just think the fact that, that you have bit rot. The wor the worst bit rot that we’re gonna have is on a, on a portable hard drive. Uh, the, the bits are really, really small. The, the stuff is hot. You can probably accelerate that by not having it powered on all the time and by accelerate. I mean, I mean, um, increased the amount of time that it’s not gonna have bit rot, um, but I, I just, I just think given the other options that we’re gonna discuss.

The only thing that a hard drive offers is ubiquity and inexpensive, right? Yeah.

[00:16:33] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I, I wanna challenge your point about bit rot I don’t think it’s the worst device for bit rot

[00:16:40] W. Curtis Preston: what’s the worst device

[00:16:41] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I would actually say for that, I’d probably put a USB flash drive.

[00:16:48] W. Curtis Preston: right, because that’s gotta be powered on.

[00:16:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep,

[00:16:51] W. Curtis Preston: All the time. Yeah. So yeah. So SSD


[00:16:54] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yes, exactly.

[00:16:56] W. Curtis Preston: just, no, it is not. This is, yeah. Thanks for bringing it up. That’s why I didn’t even put it on the

[00:17:02] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah, but, but people would cons yeah. People would consider it.

[00:17:05] W. Curtis Preston: And why, why, why isn’t that? Why, why is that the case?

[00:17:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: well, You shouldn’t use it because like you mentioned, SSD needs to be periodically powered on in order to refresh the bits that are stored on the disc. And if you don’t power it on, then it just slowly vanishes over time. I think I haven’t found actual numbers.

I wanna say they say you should power it on at least like every six months, at least at the minimum

in order

[00:17:32] W. Curtis Preston: that just sounds like a horrible, you know, I, I want an archive. I want somebody can set. I want, I want somebody can ship it to somebody, put it on a shelf and forget about it, right? Yeah. Um,

[00:17:43] Prasanna Malaiyandi: So, yeah, that’s bad SSD or flash, uh, USB

[00:17:47] W. Curtis Preston: right,

[00:17:47] Prasanna Malaiyandi: don’t use either one.

[00:17:49] W. Curtis Preston: The, um, and then right after disk is the, is RDX by the way, which is actually disk. It’s just that it’s designed for this.

It’s designed for swapping in and, and all of that. I still don’t think it’s a good archive, medium. I think it’s better than just a regular USB disc drive, but, um, It’s slightly more expensive, but again, I did, again, we’re talking about archive, not backup. We’re talking about long-term storage. I think disk is a bad idea for long-term storage.

[00:18:21] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And for people wanting to know more about RDX, go listen to episode 1 56 data protection warrior explains LTO and RDX. We had Pat Mayock from HPE. Talk about, uh, both of those technologies.

[00:18:35] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. I, if, if you wanna use disk as a backup medium, for example, I think RDX is a great solution. Um, it it’s much less expensive than LTO, which would be the next choice. So it’s a much better solution than that for the home user. And it’s, it’s a lot more. Portable it’s made to be portable. It’s made to be swapping in and out and all that stuff.

I think it’s a great choice for backup. I just don’t think that disc in any form is a good idea for archive. So the next thing that I think that we need to talk about is, is LTO. Um, there are other tape drives, but there are even more expensive than LTO . So LTO would be, there are, you know, I, I should have done that.

I’m gonna look it up right now. I’m gonna go to Amazon.

[00:19:19] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yeah, and I think for LTO, it’s not necessarily the cost of the media. That’s a concern. It’s the cost of getting started by purchasing that tape drive in order to


[00:19:29] W. Curtis Preston: is why I’m pulling it up. Okay. This is really funny.

[00:19:35] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I think it’s like $1,800. Um,

[00:19:37] W. Curtis Preston: no, when I searched on LTO tape drive, the first, the first two drives that came up were RDX tape drives. Um, so in LTO, I’m looking for maybe an older LTO. Yeah. I mean, I mean, they’re like, they’re like a thousand dollars, like that’s, you know, uh, that’s a, a new, right.

Here’s an LTO six internal drive. Uh, yeah. So, so the, the drive is going to be very expensive. The media will be inexpensive. This is where it would have to be a, what I would think of as a power home user. You need to have a whole lot of data. This is for the guys on the data, hoarder plat the data hoarders plat, uh, subreddit, right?

Hey, shout out to the, the data hoarders, subreddit, those guys, uh, you know, They store an awful lot of data. And, and when you’re storing hundreds of gigabytes or, you know, even terabytes LTO, baby, right? The, the cost per gigabytes starts to come down as you store a whole bunch, a whole bunch of data. And it’s about, you know, when you start buying a bunch of hard drives that are that big,

[00:20:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: The cost

[00:20:51] W. Curtis Preston: start approaching, you start approaching that cost of that tape drive.

So if you can get over that or what some people on the, on that sub right to talk about, Buying a used LTO tape drive, um, on, you know, the, uh, what’s that place eBay and, you know, um, and you can get, you can get one for under. Probably a few hundred bucks. Um, I’m not gonna any support or anything, but anyway, why do I like LTO over disk?

And again, it’s about, it is much better design as a long term storage medium. The, the magnetic bits are larger. The, the, the medium is colder or, or less warm. Um, and it therefore. Will be subject to bit rot at a much lower rate than the, than a disk drive. And, and if you wanna know what we’re talking about, uh, look for the, what was that?

The tape drive designer schools, Mr. Back up on.

[00:21:54] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Tape designers. Yeah. Episode 111 tape designer schools. Mr. Backup on tape with Joe Jurneke.

[00:22:00] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah, uh, that one really discusses bit rot. What it is, why it is and why tape is much like multiple orders of magnitude, better at it than, um, than disk it’s. The, are challenges with.

[00:22:17] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Tape.

[00:22:18] W. Curtis Preston: Tape as a long term storage medium. Right? You can argue that it’s difficult to verify. Um, I would say it’s not that difficult if you, if you go with the, with the LTFS format, for example, you can plug it in, put together a, a little program that goes in there and does a check sum on all your files.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just, it’s not, doesn’t happen.

[00:22:44] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep. Mount it. Mm-hmm easy. Automat.

[00:22:45] W. Curtis Preston: Automatically, well, it does auto. It does happen automatically or can happen automatically if you’re a business user and you have a large tape library, you can actually tell it to go in and compare all of its check sums to itself. And you can tell it to do that on a regular basis.

That’s something that a home user just not gonna be able to


[00:23:04] Prasanna Malaiyandi: The other thing I would say about tape drives is you have to be a little bit more careful in how. In how you handle it. Right. Don’t put it next to a magnet. right. But the same thing will apply for discs as well. Right. But you just have to be a little bit more careful where you put it. Right. Don’t put it on like a shelf with a magnet lamp underneath, because that will

[00:23:27] W. Curtis Preston: A magnet lamp. What’s a magnet lamp.

[00:23:29] Prasanna Malaiyandi: know, the lamps with the base that’s magnetic that you put to the underside of a shelf.

[00:23:34] W. Curtis Preston: Sure.

[00:23:36] Prasanna Malaiyandi: So. You never. So like in offices, like you’ll have like metal shelves. And then, so this is what we used to have at one of the places. In fact, Steven manly, uh, used to talk about this, cuz he used to work on NDMP and tape drives, but he would basically do tape backups, put the tape on a shelf and then try to do restores.

And he’d always end up with bit rot, right? The tape wouldn’t restore properly. It turns out

[00:23:59] W. Curtis Preston: yeah. That rot. That was

[00:24:02] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Or it would magnetism would flip the bits, but it’s because he would place the tape on the shelf and below the shelf, they had these lights that would snap into the shelf by magnets. Right.

So you can illuminate your desk. And that would basically cause the flipping of the bits

[00:24:23] W. Curtis Preston: I don’t know about this story. I’m gonna have to call BS on this story. I’m gonna call Steven and

tell him, I, it is just, it takes a really powerful magnet, but you know, all you gotta do is mess a couple of bits up,

[00:24:34] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yeah. Yep.

[00:24:35] W. Curtis Preston: So yeah, the, you, know, you have to keep it outta heat, keep it out of sunlight and all that kind of stuff.

But I, I think that’s true of many of

[00:24:43] Prasanna Malaiyandi: But it’s more durable than like hard disk for

[00:24:45] W. Curtis Preston: More durable and hard disc and designed to be shipped around. And there’s no,

[00:24:50] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Spinning

[00:24:51] W. Curtis Preston: uh, technology, it’s just literally just a spindle. Right. Um, and, and yes, it is, um, you know, rated for 30 years and I’ll, I’ll stand behind that. Right. The, um, uh, and yes, you’ll be able to get an LTO tape drive in 30 years.

Yours might die, but you get another one it’s not,

[00:25:10] Prasanna Malaiyandi: It’s backwards compatible at all the

rest as well. Right? Like you don’t need to get the exact same.

[00:25:14] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. It’s not like a zip drive right. Where they don’t make them anymore. Right.

[00:25:19] Prasanna Malaiyandi: zip jazz drives. I remember

[00:25:21] W. Curtis Preston: you can, you can still buy nine track tape drives. I mean, they’re, they’re refurbished and stuff like that. Not nine track. I mean, yeah. Yeah. The, the real it’s real.

Uh, that’s what I meant when I said nine track tape drives not. Okay. Those were eight track

[00:25:36] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Those were eight track. The ones that you put in your car? Yeah.

[00:25:39] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Um, the nine track were the, the big real reels that you see in all the old movies, but you can still buy nine track, uh, tape drives. You’ll be able to buy LTO drives 50 years from now.

It’s it’s not crazy that that would

[00:25:54] Prasanna Malaiyandi: The nice part with going with like a standard like that, because they ensure that it’s continuing to be supported versus some of the other technologies, which is more proprietary, which is once they go out of business, you’re a little screwed.

[00:26:07] W. Curtis Preston: Right. Exactly. Um, so the next is, and I’m gonna put them sort of, I’m not even gonna include CD, cuz it’s just so small, but we’ll talk about, and not, not regular DVD, but talk about Bluray right as an archive, medium and, well, well actually we’re talking about consumer here. So before, before I talk about Bluray, I’m gonna talk. Nope. Darn it. I’m gonna, I’m gonna stick with my original plan. Talk about Blu-Ray. So Blu-Ray is like, I think these are in order of betterness.

[00:26:43] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah, I just gonna say, yeah,

[00:26:47] W. Curtis Preston: And the, the nice thing about Blu-Ray is that it’s not subject to magnetic bit rot. But the way it works, it is an organic. Um, die that is recorded on via lasers

[00:27:05] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yeah. That’s why you get like the etchings on the back of

[00:27:07] W. Curtis Preston: right, right.

And it does have, or it can have bit rot and there could be like separations of things. It’s not a perfect medium. Right. Um, I, I think. And I think it, I think it’s even more susceptible to environmental issues than tape,

[00:27:28] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I think, especially when it comes to like light UV, other things like that, it could cause it to break down much quicker

[00:27:36] W. Curtis Preston: right?

[00:27:36] Prasanna Malaiyandi: than they say it lasts.

[00:27:38] W. Curtis Preston: It is very inexpensive. You can get a, you know, a Blu-Ray writeable Blu-Ray drive for under 50 bucks and Blu-Ray discs are super

[00:27:51] Prasanna Malaiyandi: start

[00:27:51] W. Curtis Preston: cheap.

[00:27:51] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep.

[00:27:53] W. Curtis Preston: And

[00:27:53] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And I think they’re about 20 and I think they’re about 25 gigs, right? Per blue radius, 25 to

[00:27:58] W. Curtis Preston: I think that’s, yeah, I think that’s the biggest that they come. And the, just the challenge of that is, you know, how long. It will last, you can have it tested. You can easily just like the tape. You can bring it in and, you know, have it tested. You can also make multiple copies in case one of them goes bad because the media itself is, so this, this is similar to the tape where you can make multiple copies and you can distribute them, put them in different places.

Don’t have them in your house. You know, if your house burns down or gets flooded or whatever your precious stuff can be somewhere else. Um, The what I was, what I was thinking about talking about, and I’m gonna talk about it just really quickly. There is something, um, that called the, the Sony, uh, optical disc archive.

And it is, it takes that concept of a, you know, of a. It actually started with Blu-Ray it now uses a different technology inside, but what it does is it puts multiple of these platters inside something that kind of looks like a tape

and it works kind of like internally it works kind of like a disc drive in that you put one of these,

[00:29:12] Prasanna Malaiyandi: cartridges.

[00:29:13] W. Curtis Preston: cartridges.

Yeah, that’s right. Cartridges into an optical disc archive, uh, player. And. And, and it’s reading and writing from them at, uh, you know, simultaneously, which is how it can have much higher write speeds than a typical Blu-Ray, uh, disc. So the there’s only one problem with the Sony optical disc archive. Yeah.

Do you know what one costs? Uh, I was looking at B and H photo. It’s pretty much the only place you can buy it, by the way. That’s another problem is that it’s only made by Sony done. If Sony decides to get outta this business, they’re the only one I know making it. So it’s not like LTO, there’s multiple companies making it.

So if they decide to get outta the business, that’s the end of the world, the, uh, it’s uh, roughly $10,000 for a new.

[00:30:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: the

[00:30:08] W. Curtis Preston: For the drive. And then the, the media is like, It’s I’d say it. It’s it’s it’s approaching tape prices, not as cheap as tape somewhere between somewhere between tape and RDX from, from a price per gigabyte standpoint.

It let’s just say once you’ve paid $10,000 for the drive, who

[00:30:28] Prasanna Malaiyandi: The media’s gonna matter.

[00:30:30] W. Curtis Preston: media’s not gonna matter. Uh, so I don’t see that as an option for the home user and, uh, by the way, this whole, this whole thing, by the way, was caused by Daniel asking about the optical disc archive. On, um, on Reddit. And I was like, dude, he’s like, is there any way I can buy one of these?

We’re like, well, yeah, you can go to B and H photo, just take out a loan. Right.

[00:30:54] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Well, and just given where he’s located in Israel, dealing with all the import duty taxes and whether he can get the equipment or not. Right. That’s another can of worms

[00:31:03] W. Curtis Preston: I didn’t even think about that aspect. So, uh,

[00:31:07] Prasanna Malaiyandi: But before we jump to, I think the next to the one we actually wanna talk about, I wanna ask you, where do you think cloud fits into all of this cloud?

[00:31:19] W. Curtis Preston: Not at all.

[00:31:21] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Hear me.

[00:31:23] W. Curtis Preston: you asked me a question.

[00:31:24] Prasanna Malaiyandi: no, like you have AWS’s glacier deep archive. You have other storage in the cloud intended for archival storage. Do you think that the home users should consider those as a place to store their precious data, right?

That they want to archive and keep. Understanding that yes, bringing it back to from the cloud will be costly. They will be paying sort of a monthly fee for storing the data. They have to worry about how they get the data up there in the first place. Maybe they use like a device, like AWS’s snow cone to move the data to the cloud, all of these things.

But we haven’t talked about that yet. And so before we get to the next topic, I thought I’d pick your brain.

[00:32:09] W. Curtis Preston: Okay. That, that’s a, that’s a, it’s a good point. And. I guess it, it, it depends on the, the amount of the data. If you’re a very small home user and you got like, you know, a handful of gigabytes of this stuff, putting it up, there’s nothing wrong with putting it into, uh, the cloud. And I would definitely use something like glacier deep archive.

And the idea would be that you hope you don’t ever have to pull it out of there because it will be both. It will take a while and you will pay dearly to pull it out. Um, and, and that, that’s also not the only option out there. There are a bunch of them out there. Right. You know, just, just take a look at them, but the.

The concern that most of the people that I’m, that I think I’m speaking to today is that for them, for the whole user, they don’t like the loss of control that the cloud has. They don’t like the fact that, you know, they’re only paying a, a small fee per month to Amazon or to whomever. And that, that means that they don’t have a lot of, of.

To use a Seinfeld. They have no hand, right. To use a Seinfeld reference. They like the idea of having it again. This is an archive. This is my precious memories. They like the idea of having it in their hot little hands.

[00:33:28] Prasanna Malaiyandi: But, but, but, but, but yes, I agree that archive it’s good to have in your hot little hands, but wouldn’t you want something off site as well, potentially for your archive, especially if this is your precious things, right. Your house burns down. And so.

[00:33:48] W. Curtis Preston: There’s nothing wrong with having a copy there. If you can afford it and you can get it there and all of that stuff. Um, It’s just that the whole point here is that it’s going to be a really long time.

And I think over time, you’re gonna be paying an awfully long, you know,

[00:34:04] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. People

[00:34:05] W. Curtis Preston: year archive for somebody,

[00:34:06] Prasanna Malaiyandi: people get surprised about the cost, even if it seems like a very, very small amount as your data grows, your costs grow. And then trying to get that data back ever becomes very, very expensive.

[00:34:17] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Cloud for backup and recovery. Absolutely right. For, for the home user, for all the users, for all the things I think cloud backup and recovery, cloud disaster recovery, I think that’s perfect use for the cloud. Um, I get concerned when we start talking about storing stuff there for 50 years because, um, you know,

[00:34:39] Prasanna Malaiyandi: You could afford that Sony optical disc at that

[00:34:42] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah, you might be. Yeah, exactly. You might just take out a loan on that. Right. Uh, and by the way, any of the medium, any of the media that we are talking about, I think you should be making multiple copies and you should be shipping some of it offsite. Right. So we’re definitely in agreement there. So I wanna talk about the thing that, that, that I, that I know that Daniel’s been looking at a lot lately and, and that is, and, and actually I have to thank Daniel for, I wasn’t even aware of this format and that’s why, that’s why I wanted to talk about it here. And it’s called M disk. Um, the original. Name came from the company.

Uh, what was it?

[00:35:26] Prasanna Malaiyandi: NCIA I think

[00:35:29] W. Curtis Preston: I don’t know. Millenniata, I think is

[00:35:31] Prasanna Malaiyandi: there,

[00:35:32] W. Curtis Preston: was millennia.

[00:35:33] Prasanna Malaiyandi: There you go.

[00:35:34] W. Curtis Preston: The, um, so I’m gonna put the bad news first. So first off, I think it’s an amazing archive medium, and I think it solves so many of the issues that we talked about, um, up to this point. The, so let me talk about the bad first. The actual company that came out with, with M-Disc is out of business.

Um, the, the M the Millenniata in M-Disc went out of business in 2018, but, um, it looks like the, the folks that, that created M-Disc created another company that it’s one of these things where, you know, the company went outta the business, but the people went on to form this other company. So if you go to like, I think it’s

Is that what it is? Let’s see. Yeah. M disc that’s disc with the C It’s the same people that started it is just not the company, not the original company. So first off, what is it? Um, it, it, is, it, it, if you just look at it with, you know, you just saw it, you would think you’re looking at a blue Ray or a DVD,

[00:36:43] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah. It’s just an optical disc and looks exactly the

[00:36:48] W. Curtis Preston: it’s yeah. Same form factor, but it it’s apparently close to transparent, which is kind of an interesting, which given what it actually is, I, I find that fascinating.

[00:37:00] Prasanna Malaiyandi: same form

[00:37:00] W. Curtis Preston: But the different, the big difference is instead of using an organic dye, they use inorganic material and essentially the, the way they, it is proprietary and it is secret, but it is essentially they’re, they’re essentially describing it as stone, right?

They’re like it’s etched in stone. It it’s an inorganic material. Um, That does not have the bit rot issues over time that the organic dyes do that, that the other optical platters use. And the amazing thing is it is writeable in most modern

[00:37:45] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Blu-Ray but

[00:37:46] W. Curtis Preston: if they, if they can write a DVD, a Blu-Ray generally modern drives can write an M-Disc.

Having said that I, I, you know, I don’t know what the full compatibility is and your mileage may vary and all

[00:37:59] Prasanna Malaiyandi: But I think it can be played in any. Device in any drive that can read a Blu-Ray

[00:38:05] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Which is fascinating. This is one of those things where this is like the ultimate sort of backwards compatible. How did they make something that’s completely different, but also compatible with what was already out there?

That’s I mean that kudos to the folks behind M-Disc and you know, maybe we’ll get, maybe we’ll get them on here. Uh,

[00:38:29] Prasanna Malaiyandi: I think Daniel had actually done a podcast, I believe with one of the guys who created M disk.

[00:38:36] W. Curtis Preston: Well then we got, we gotta get that guy. If Daniel can get that

guy, we can get that guy. We know Daniel, Daniel hook us, hook us up, man. Um, but the, so.

so so that’s the big deal is that it’s this inorganic material that’s supposed to last a thousand years.

[00:38:57] Prasanna Malaiyandi: And this has been, I think I read that it had been tested in France by some government agency, the D O D in the US. Right. They use this for thing, data that needs to be archived and stored. Right. So it’s not like, oh yeah, here’s this fancy tech and no, one’s proven it out, but it’s actually being used by agencies which have strict requirements.

[00:39:24] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. And, and there, there have been some, some independent reviews of it. And like there’s some guy that like torched it and submerged it and stuff. This guy, microscopic, UK, that’s quite the mouthful there. Uh, he did a review of it. Um, I’ll, I’ll say this, you again, I’ll say multiple things. When you, when you kind of look at it, like if you’re just, if you’re looking at it for the, for the, with brand new eyes, the claims sound good.

The website is the website. The review website is ma. Um, and so you might like, because when you, when you go to mdisc-com, for example, they haven’t had a blog post in six years. Um, they’ve got a couple of links that are bad. So even the guys that are have taken over it, they haven’t done necessarily the best.

So why do I think this is such a good medium go, let’s go back to LTO. There are multiple companies that make m-Disc compatible drives and multiple companies that make M-Disc compatible media.

[00:40:29] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Mm-hmm

[00:40:31] W. Curtis Preston: Um, and they’re companies that you already know, right. If you just go to Amazon and you type in M-Disc drive, you’ll find a number of companies that, that make the drives and you’ll find, um, and by the way, the latest M-Disc media is actually a hundred gigabyte,

[00:40:48] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep. It is more pricey though, but it is there,

[00:40:56] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. Yeah. The, um, I’m finding. Yeah. So like, um, 20,

[00:41:03] Prasanna Malaiyandi: right? I think it’s like

[00:41:04] W. Curtis Preston: yeah,

25. Let’s see. 25, 25, 25 gigabyte discs is $65 and 25 100 gigabyte discs is $283. That’s a, but that’s, that’s two and a half terabytes. Did I get that right? That’s two and a half terabytes of storage.

[00:41:27] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

[00:41:27] W. Curtis Preston: Now, again, if you’re a data hoarder and you’ve got 30 terabytes of storage, you’re this is not for you.

I don’t think this is for you. This is for that person who has a bunch of stuff you can buy. I don’t know what the smallest chunk is. You can buy, but you can buy a drive for, you know, around a hundred bucks. They, they look to be a little bit more expensive than just your average. Uh, BDR drive, but, and you can buy the media and there are several drives.

And again, the, the drive it’s made backwards compatible. That’s really important thing it’s made back. So even if tomorrow, all the new media stop being made and all the drives that could write to it, stop being made. The fact that you can read it in the existing Blu-Ray drives, I think is says everything.

And that’s what I like about this.

[00:42:23] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Oh,

[00:42:24] W. Curtis Preston: What do you

[00:42:25] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Oh, I, yeah, no, I’m glad that Daniel kind of pointed us to it, cuz yeah, I had never heard about this before, but it is very, very fascinating. And if it could live up to the fact that yeah, it doesn’t degrade over time. Like I, I was going through and cleaning up the house and I just had so many CDs and DVDs lying around the house.

I’m like, there is no way that this stuff will be able to be read anymore because they’re all like 20 years old.

[00:42:50] W. Curtis Preston: Right.

[00:42:51] Prasanna Malaiyandi: When’s the last time you tried to read a 20 year old CD or DVD Curtis?

[00:42:55] W. Curtis Preston: Are we talking commercial DVDs

or home written DVDs?

[00:43:00] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yeah.

[00:43:01] W. Curtis Preston: Um, a little while ago, actually. I remember pulling out some stuff that I had written.

[00:43:06] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yep. Did it actually, were you

[00:43:07] W. Curtis Preston: uh,

[00:43:08] Prasanna Malaiyandi: were you able to actually read it? Okay. But it’s like those sort of things. It’s like how much longer will they last?

[00:43:14] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know what the Blu-Ray, I don’t know what Blu-Ray are, are rated at. Um, I think DVDs, not Blu-Ray DVDs, DVDs are rated better, but, um, but they, you know, they’re so much smaller and, you know, um, etcetera, et cetera, but I don’t know. I like the idea that it’s an inorganic layer. Um, I like the idea that there are multiple vendors that sell the media.

There are multiple vendors that sell the drives. So it’s more at this point, the founders, I, I guess they’re probably living off licensing, right? Cuz they’re not, they don’t sell the company that they’re essentially, as far as I can tell they’re they’re just marketing the idea,

[00:44:01] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yeah, and

[00:44:02] W. Curtis Preston:

[00:44:03] Prasanna Malaiyandi: and I think that’s probably the challenge to getting consumers, to actually adopt this technology because most people don’t even know M-Disc exists. Right. Just like

[00:44:14] W. Curtis Preston: Well, that’s about to change after this episode!

[00:44:15] Prasanna Malaiyandi: It exists. but I think right. That’s probably a fault on the company side. Right. It’s if people knew, I’m sure more people would be looking into it as a potential option.

[00:44:28] W. Curtis Preston: They can start by updating their website and fixing broken links and you know, and not having six year old blogs that actually don’t really talk about their medium. Um, yeah, the blog is, I don’t know, it’s a nice looking site, but the blog is not the best part.


[00:44:49] Prasanna Malaiyandi: folks. If you need some ideas, reach out to us, we will be happy to provide you some input.

[00:44:55] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, so far you’ve received unsolicited input already. but your website looks, but I love the, I love the idea and I think that this is the ultimate archiving medium for the home user. Right. Um, the, I, I haven’t found it. I I’m sure there’s somewhere that you could probably buy a handful of these discs that you don’t always have to buy 25 pack.

I don’t know if that’s the case. It it’s probably way more expensive for a disc to do it that way. Just like it is with Blu-Rays.

[00:45:24] Prasanna Malaiyandi: yeah.

[00:45:25] W. Curtis Preston: But I just, I don’t know. I just really like the fact, again, the fact that they made it backwards compatible with the regular Blu-Ray drives the fact that there’s multiple companies that make the media and one of which is verbatim.

Right. Which is, you know, that there’s multiple companies that, that whose names that you recognize and there’s multiple drives that to, to write it. So if you, if you’re interested in the hundred gigabyte disc, make sure that the drive that you buy supports a hundred gigabyte disc.

I don’t know if all drives support that. So anyway, I think this is a good discussion. I hope, I hope, I hope you guys, I hope you enjoyed this Daniel. This was this literally all for you. This was, this was for an audience of one.

[00:46:05] Prasanna Malaiyandi: Yes.

[00:46:06] W. Curtis Preston: uh, hopefully we have more than more people in that listening, but, um, So thanks Prasanna.

Thanks for the chat.

[00:46:15] Prasanna Malaiyandi: now I’m gonna go think about my archive strategy.

[00:46:18] W. Curtis Preston: Yeah.

And thanks to the listeners. We’re nothing without you. And remember

[00:46:24] Prasanna Malaiyandi: to subscribe. So you can restore it all.

[00:46:27] W. Curtis Preston: There you go. That’s it.

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