Camcorders forum

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HD File Backup

by mep2007 / June 21, 2009 1:27 AM PDT

I have a Sony HD camcorder. Obviously, with the HD format, the memory on the camcorder fills up quickly. What is the best way to save/backup the old files without losing the HD format so that they can be deleted from the camcorder to make space for more?

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I have two Sony high definition camcorders.
by boya84 / June 21, 2009 2:32 PM PDT
In reply to: HD File Backup

They record High Definition format (HDV) to miniDV tape. I do not re-use the tape - the tape is the archive and tapes cost only about $3 each (8-packs at Fry's are $24.99 - tapes can be had cheaper in quantities at Special HD tapes not required.

I presume you are referring to a high definition tapeless consumer camcorder environment. Um... yeah. A few options so you do not lose the high definition video... You can fill external hard drives, but many people do not consider hard drives real archive storage - back up, maybe, but not archive because even as good as they are, hard drives will fail. You can invest in a BluRay burner for your computer - I like the externals from LaCie. The BluRay discs are a bit pricey, but they do start with 25 gig blanks (and get larger. Using regular single layer (4.7 gig) or double layer (8.5 gig) DVD blanks may work, but they really don't hold very much in comparison.

You *could* invest in a firewire port for your computer (if it does not already have one) and get/connect a HDV deck - or an HDV camcorder and export the video from the computer to miniDV tape over the firewire connection (a regular 60 minute miniDV tape will hold 63 minutes of HDV - or the equivalent of ~44 gig of computer hard drive space that uncompressed high definition video uses)...

Your experience/investigation is one - of several - reasons why the consumer tapeless camcorder environment is still not ready for prime time.

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by mep2007 / June 22, 2009 2:25 AM PDT

Thanks for your very helpful reply. You're right, my camcorder is tapeless. What do think about the strategy of burning DVDs from the original AVCHD format in standard definition using a regular burner and then relying on a Blu-ray player to upconvert them to 1080i? Will that even work?

Also, in terms of burning DVDs that can play in a standard DVD player, can you recommend software?

Thanks again.

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As soon as you downsample
by boya84 / June 22, 2009 3:53 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

from high definition to standard definition, then the data is discarded. It will be really clear standard definition, but nowhere near high definition... and misses your original requirement, "the best way to save/backup the old files without losing the HD format".

Standard definition is about 1/4 the data that high definition carries. "Upconvert" just cannot replace the discarded data.

For DVD authoring applications, I use iDVD and DVD StudioPro. Both take the high definition video direct from the video editors I use and can render to standard definition video files (VOB) onto regular single layer and double layer DVDs. The also provide the ability to either "auto play" the video that was rendered when you insert the DVD to the regular DVD player or can let you create scene selections menus and the background of these menus can be customized with stills or video and audio. Others use Roxio Creator, Nero or DVD Architect among many other titles.

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Hard drive backup
by mattdot / June 24, 2009 2:05 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

If you are worried about hard disks failing then consider setting up your hard drives as RAID. RAID 1 provides you protection from the failure of a single drive. If you're really concerned, you can investigate other forms of RAID for more protection. Hard drive storage is nearly as cheap as tape storage, but it's a lot more accessible, and it doesn't force you to re-encode your video in another lossy format.

With DVD's you are going to end up with so many DVDs. Just think that one flash card is going to get backed up to 2-4 DVDs. That's really time consuming to burn. Blu-ray is a better option for optical. Still, I can't tell you how many scratched CD's I have that don't play anymore, I have a feeling the same thing would happen to my video backup, so I avoid optical as the master source for anything.

If you're looking for portable backup, there are portable video storage hard drives.

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Thank you
by mep2007 / June 24, 2009 3:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Hard drive backup

What is RAID? Do you have a link to something that explains?

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Agree that RAIDed drives for
by boya84 / June 24, 2009 4:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Hard drive backup

back-up is acceptable... but that is for backup - not archive. Digital tape is still the preferred archive media. At least, that is how I see it in the data centers I've been in.

And while becoming more mainstream, most folks do not have the appropriate RAID arrays, back up power and all the stuff that goes with proper RAID implementation - I like some of the Network Attached Storage (NAS) capabilities that are now becoming popular in the consumer environments.

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More about RAID
by mattdot / June 24, 2009 12:46 PM PDT

Here is a definition of RAID (, but basically the RAID I'm mentioning is mirroring which writes your data to 2 hard disks instead of one, so that if one fails, you still have the other disk. Your computer treats the 2 hard drives as if they are one disk. You can get RAID drives in various form factors: internal drives, a usb connected drive, or the NAS (network attached storage) options that boya84 mentioned. As for the quality of hard disks for archival, 2.5" drives seem to be better than 3.5" drives as indicated by this research paper. ( They claim that 2.5" drives at rest will last for about 30 years.

Tape is preferred in data centers because of cost. Most data center backup data is not kept long enough to make tape's archival lifespan relevant. Data centers use very high performance, and very expensive SCSI or Fiber Channel drive arrays which are many times more expensive than the consumer drives we would use for RAID at home. The consumer drives are much closer to the price of tape. Data centers also use LTO-4 backup tape drives which cost over $4,000. They backup data fast, and the tape is very high quality for archival, but reallistically out of the price range of most non-professionals or even individual professionals.

Also if you are going to backup to tape, then Mini DV over firewire is not the right tape. If you are backing up to mini dv, then you are recompressing (throwing away detail) again. If your camcorder recorded onto mini dv in the first place then that's one thing, but to take AVCHD (mpeg4) and transcode it into dv (mpeg2) is throwing away details. There is no industry standard for using mini dv as a data backup solution, but there are a few software programs which implement proprietary backups. If your software vendor goes out of business, then you might just be screwed when it's time to retrieve that archived data 5 years from now. You should theoretically get 18GB per tape, but realistically it's closer to 12GB.

Another thing to consider is how safe you want your archives to be. Having the data on 2 hard drives or tape backup does you no good when the drives/tapes are in your closet and your house burns down. If you are concerned about this type of loss, store an extra copy of your tape/disk somewhere other than your house. Another option is to upload your data to Amazon S3 (or another cloud data storage service), and let them worry about doing professional backups.

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