Late last year, our house was broken into and a bunch of electronics were stolen, including the MiniDV video camera we had had since our wedding (fortunately the thief didn’t take all of our saved tapes). My video workflow over the past decade has consisted of shooting (judiciously), occassionally making a short web video, and putting the tape away in a cabinet for the archives.
When the camera was stolen, I replaced it with an HD camera that stores video data on SD cards. The usual workflow for SD-based cameras is that you extract what you need to disk when the card is full, then erase and re-use it. But I don’t always have time to do the reviewing and capturing every time, and don’t always feel comfortable erasing the card and starting over to shoot more footage. The question becomes, what is the best way to store this data long term?
I could of course buy another external hard drive dedicated to the task. They’re cheap enough, but experience teaches that disks are fallible, so then you get into the problem of having to back up what could quickly become terabytes of data.
Another solution would be to buy archival grade DVDs and copy data to them as cards fill up.
A final option would be to NOT reuse SD cards, but to replace them when full instead, and stack them in the cabinet for archival purposes just as I used to do with MiniDV tapes.
Doing some comparison shopping, it looks like the price ratio between using archival DVDs and buying new SD cards is similar enough to be neglible. The question then becomes, how do the shelf lives of these two media compare? If you search for information on the longevity of SD cards, you find lots of information about how they’re only good for a limited number of read/write operations before they start to fail… but that’s not what I’m interested in. I’m talking about writing to them once, only reading them a few times max, but storing them for years or decades. It’s surprisingly difficult to find information on how long data on an SD card will last if NOT used.
I’m confident they’d be fine for a few years. But what about 20? What about 50? (yes, I want my kid to be able to access this data when he’s grown up, hopefully without going through the hoops I recently did dealing with my dad’s 60-year-old 8- and 16-mm film stock.
Archival DVDs claim to be good for 100 years, and I’d be willing to trust that figure, or something like it, even though none of them have been around long enough for the estimate to be verified. But for convenience, I’d love to be able to skip the transfer step and just store SD cards long-term. Without information on that, I’m skittish about it.
Anyone have info on long-term shelf-life of unsed SD cards?