DIGISTOR REWIND covers Windows 8.1 data archiving needs

One of the biggest headaches that PC users must contend with is updating all of their software when they make the move to a new operating system. Eventually, everyone needs to migrate to a newer OS as older versions will become outdated and lose vendor support. Microsoft’s recent efforts to phase out Windows XP are a great example of this. Anyone who continues to rely on XP will have to cope with vulnerabilities and other coding issues without the assistance of the OS’s creator. As such, many Windows users have moved on to the platform’s latest iteration, 8.1.

Windows 8 and its subsequent update – Windows 8.1 present a notable shift from older platforms. While Windows 7 was essentially XP with a face lift, Windows 8 has been designed with future user preferences in mind. Specifically, Microsoft designed its latest OS to work seamlessly and effortlessly on tablets and other mobile devices. By bridging the gap between traditional PC systems and mobile layouts, Windows 8 is a wholly distinct OS. That means that consumers need to take care that their software is compatible with this latest PC platform. There’s arguably nothing more frustrating than investing in an application that won’t even run on the most current hardware.

Archiving data on Windows 8
One area that consumers should take particular note of is data archiving software. PC users don’t want to run the risk of being left in the cold when their outdated product fails to back up one-of-a-kind documents and files. Data loss can happen in the blink of an eye and without warning, so having an effective tool in place should be a primary concern. As an industry-leader in this field, DIGISTOR is always on the forefront of the latest data archiving solutions. Our REWIND software enables Windows users to back up their important photos, videos and other files with ease. Because REWIND is compatible with Windows 8.1, consumers don’t need to worry about losing functionality when making the jump to the latest PC platform.

Getting the most out of REWIND is easy as pie. All you need is a Blu-ray burner and discs to get started on archiving your collection of irreplaceable information and documents. REWIND has been designed to eliminate any potential headaches, providing consumers with the most user-friendly data archiving software on the market. Navigating the REWIND interface is a breeze, helping individuals avoid any missteps that could derail the backup process. Any Windows 8 users who want the peace of mind knowing their most important files are securely archived should download the free REWIND trial and see what all the fuss is about.

Back to school: Bringing enterprise data archiving principles to higher education

Data archiving solutions have been widely accepted in the corporate world, giving enterprise leaders the peace of mind of knowing that even in the event of a catastrophic data loss incident, their most important historical records will be retained. But why stop at the enterprise level? There's no reason that other industries cannot similarly benefit from the use of archiving tools. In fact, some sectors have an arguably greater need for these resources as the amount of data they generate is off the charts. Specifically, universities and other institutions of higher education produce a great deal of information that needs to be stored for the long haul. Given the amount of in-depth research that is conducted at these schools, historical records need to be archived and made available whenever needed.

It would be difficult to overstate how much data is coursing through university networks and systems. Everything from enrollment records to research material must be cataloged, stored and kept in a state that permits access at a later date. Consider, for instance, the widespread switch from paper-based documents to digital ones. Many student records, grade reports and even reference materials are now stored on a server or hard drive somewhere instead of in a filing cabinet or on a library shelf.

Like every other sector, higher education is making the most of big data advancements, leaning on analytics tools to improve every facet of university operations. Under these circumstances, no piece of information can be deemed inconsequential and instead must be archived in the event that it could provide some meaningful insight.

All of these factors have come together to make data archiving a pressing need for institutions of higher education. For instance, the Indiana University Scholarly Data Archive can hold as much as 42 petabytes of data for the school's research purposes alone. The platform provides a two-fold service for the organization: storing important information for later use and backing up research records in the event that it needs to be recovered following a data loss incident.

Choosing the right platform
University officials must be mindful of their data archiving needs and find solutions that meet their specific demands. Legacy tape-based platforms may not be able to measure up to today's storage standards. For instance, tapes will become demagnetized as the years roll on, increasing the likelihood that some important kernel of information will be lost forever. Writing on his StorageMojo blog, data storage expert Robin Harris mentioned another compelling reason to forgo tape as a potential archiving tool, explaining that in order to maintain the integrity of the format's materials, tape users would need to deploy strict climate control processes. In addition to being expensive and arduous to implement, such technology may not be supported by an institution's data center.

Universities require a far more reliable, durable and simple solution to their data archiving needs. Again, higher education administrators should look to other sectors for inspiration addressing this issue. Many tech-savvy companies including Amazon and Facebook have tested archiving tools that are built upon optical discs in recent months. These organizations made waves earlier this year when they divulged details about Blu-ray-based cold storage systems for their data center operations. Consumers who associate Blu-ray with movies and video games may be surprised that these discs could shoulder the data archiving workload of tech-giant like Facebook, but those familiar with the media know better.

Blu-ray meets data archiving needs
Blu-ray offers a range of benefits that other forms of storage media simply cannot touch. Perhaps Blu-ray's greatest asset is its scalability. The technology's costs are decreasing just as its storage capacity continues to rise, making it a sensible solution from a pure financial perspective. But that low cost makes it a breeze for adopters to quickly scale up their archiving operations without needing to break the bank investing in new hardware. Additional discs can be added to an enterprise archiving tool at a moment's notice. This way, university leaders won't run the risk of being caught off guard by a sudden surge in data.

Those same material and environmental factors that make tape such a gamble for archiving are of no concern to Blu-ray users. These discs are remarkably durable, capable of remaining functional for decades in less-than-ideal storage conditions. Whereas tape will break down unless treated appropriately, Blu-ray discs will offer reliable data retrieval even in poor environments. In addition, because these discs are so affordable, organizations can create as many backups as they like.

When looking at possible data archiving solutions, institutions of higher education should prioritize scalability, durability and reliability. The last thing one of these organizations needs is to lose critical data backups because it chose to use a faulty platform. Optical media, and Blu-ray in particular, provides the full range of benefits that businesses look for in a high-quality archiving tool. Universities should consider taking advantage of these resources for their own needs as well.

Data archiving solutions must handle data variety

Data is becoming the modern day currency of many organizations, as more businesses look to leverage collected information to improve their operations and market standing. However, processing and analyzing big data is becoming significantly more complicated. Metrics are being generated from a variety of different sources, making it difficult to run the same procedures on each statistic. As the characteristics of data continue to expand, it will be integral for companies to ensure that their storage options are able to archive this information for future use.

Businesses struggle with data variety
Traditionally, big data processes have been reserved for organizations with enough resources to support this trend. As more businesses start to leverage analytics tools, however, they can better facilitate data collection. While these efforts have been known to overwhelm firms with the volume of information, this aspect may not be the only issue data scientists are running into. According to a survey by computational database management system designer Paradigm4, 71 percent of respondents found that the variety of data was the reason why big data was so difficult to analyze, eWEEK reported. In addition, almost half of participants claimed that putting data into relational database tables was challenging, and 39 percent stated that the expansion of big data processes made their jobs more stressful.

Big data is growing, making it significantly harder to perform the same analytics processes businesses have been running for years. In fact, more than one-third of data scientists noted that their data is too massive to send to their analytics tools, taking up too much time to acquire necessary resources.

Choose the best archival solution
When it comes to big data, organizations will need to have optimal storage solutions for their information to ensure that it can be leveraged at a moment's notice. The New York Times noted that decision-makers will have to pay particular attention to the storage type and compatibility of the solution. If the chosen archive service does not work well with mission-critical systems, for example, it will make it significantly harder to transfer important metrics to the storage device.

DIGISTOR's enterprise data archiving solutions can easily handle these requirements by providing drives that withstand regular wear-and-tear while being built with the best components. DIGISTOR's drives work seamlessly with numerous systems and can be easily formatted by the user. This ensures that the drives are reliable for business needs and that they will be able to be leveraged for years to come.

Cold storage essential for data disaster prevention efforts

Although no business wants to think about it, disaster can strike at any time, crippling important systems, creating significant chaos and causing essential data to potentially be lost in the process. For this reason, organizations have increasingly been looking to protect their data with the best solutions possible. Whether the threat comes from malware or severe weather conditions, sensitive files must have a backup available at all times to ensure that employees are able to get systems running again. However, if the company hasn't observed data archiving best practices, they will be considerably set back in these efforts and will expend additional expenses to fully recover.

With the number of devices entering the workplace, organizations are generating more data than ever before and it's becoming more difficult to keep track of it all. However, because of the rise of big data, storage devices are constantly improving and becoming more accessible, according to ITWeb. Decision-makers are no longer just considering the capacity of their solutions, but are now factoring in how to efficiently handle the data they are collecting. This element will be critical to ensuring that they obtain a solution that meets their needs without compromising their important files. In addition, many solutions will have automated backup capabilities which enable users to have the most recent information available at all times. This will create less chaos in an emergency and will make the data readily available for use.

"Furthermore, placing this data automatically on the right performance level results in organizations having a storage system that offers optimal performance without them having to manually manage the data sets daily," ITWeb stated.

Leveraging cold storage for backup and recovery
It's important to note that storage solutions are not one-size-fits-all, and there are numerous standards that must be adhered to. For these reasons, cold storage makes the most sense for many businesses. With four different levels of storage, organizations can choose the one that makes the most sense for their requirements, according to InfoStor. Polar collection, for example, takes hold of data that may never be used, while chilly collection often needs up to 10 percent of its data back throughout a one-year period. Icy collection involves data that will not be used very often and cold collection has a return rate of 2 to 5 percent of its data over a year. This amount of specificity, along with several other options, shows that businesses can easily find the type of cold storage they need without too much customization required.

Another reason that cold storage is becoming so popular is the amount of control that management has over its own data. Much like other physical storage options, cold storage can be accessed quickly but does not have the same threats as online platforms, making it less likely to be breached by malware or other third-party attacks. Numerous organizations, including Facebook, are taking advantage of this approach to recover information and ensure that it remains secure.

Physical and online storage don’t have the same government protections

Information is essential for businesses as they use their reports to make important decisions and drive development for the future. However, this data is increasingly being targeted by malware and other malicious entities that can bring down operations. In this type of environment, it's absolutely critical to choose the best solution for data archival and storage. While many managers view online platforms as the answer, recent developments in the protection of these deployments show that they may not be the optimal choice for corporate information.

Online storage reviewable by law
Many organizations move their sensitive files to the cloud and other online solutions in order to have constant access, but rulings by officials state that this platform isn't as secure from prying eyes as owners hope. According to Engadget, a New York judge stated that U.S. search warrants could be used for digital information, whether it was housed locally or globally. While there were challenges to this notion, the U.S. government recently backed up the claim, stating that the Fourth Amendment protections are not the same for files in online storage as they are for physical data. In a world where data breaches are a rising occurrence, it should be no surprise that the government wants to keep up with activities in the online storage space. However, Microsoft disputed the ruling, claiming that protections should be extended to digital content and that the government's views of this material on foreign deployments are wrong. 

"From the Justice Department's point of view, this law is necessary in an age where 'fraudsters' and 'hackers' use electronic communications in not just the U.S. but abroad as well," Engadget stated. "Indeed, the Microsoft account in this case is in relation to a drug-trafficking investigation. However, Microsoft believes there are wide-ranging implications for such a statement, and it's not the only company that thinks so."

Physical storage more secure overall
Blu-ray discs are increasingly becoming favored as backup devices for a number of large organizations. Most notably, Facebook is using this hardware for cold storage of information. Physical backups can be easily accessed and are extremely durable. The performance of Blu-ray discs will always remain constant, ensuring that users are able to leverage it at a moment's notice. In addition, the organization will have total control over their sensitive data at all times, mitigating the potential for it to be corrupted or stolen by external parties. Because this type of storage is covered under the Fourth Amendment, it will be more advantageous to utilize it over online-based platforms. This will ensure that backups are always available and are not open to digital vulnerabilities.

Data archiving solutions needed in healthcare industry

Despite their many differences, most sectors have more in common than industry members might realize. Seemingly business-oriented tools can often have tangible applications in other verticals, bringing the same benefits to a wide variety of organizations. This is particularly true of the healthcare industry and data archiving solutions. While long-term storage drives may appear to be most readily useful for large enterprises and data centers, they can offer the same level of quality and performance to hospitals, medical centers and other healthcare organizations.

Medical facilities are in the midst of an information boom. These organizations are currently being flooded by incoming data, including patient files, financial documents and medical records. There is no such thing as disposable data in the healthcare sphere, meaning that everything needs to be documented and stored for later use. Data archiving solutions are increasingly becoming a critical need for medical centers, particularly as they continue to face pressure to transition to digital records. The federal government has pushed the healthcare community to discard paper-based filing systems in favor of electronic documents, offering incentives to those organizations that can demonstrate "meaningful use" of electronic health records in their practice.

According to a recent HIMSS Analytics survey, such policies have significantly driven the need for better data management within healthcare organizations – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

"By 2015, most hospitals are expected to have undergone a massive, data- and reform-driven transformation," said HIMSS Analytics vice president Lorren Pettit. "Between the conversion to ICD-10 for better coding, meeting meaningful use milestones for data sharing at the point-of-care, and the continued influx of EMR/EHR systems, hospitals will have created an exponential proliferation of data volume."

Medical records need to be archived
Due to the sensitive nature of these records, medical centers will require reliable methods of archiving them for later use. Even those organizations that leverage cloud-based storage services will need to have an effective data archiving solution in place in the event of a catastrophic event. CoreLink Data Centers director Nav Ranajee highlighted the urgency to deploy disaster recovery tools within healthcare operations, noting that the growing relevance of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health has further spurred on efforts to implement such assets.

"Regulatory, technological and environmental factors are raising the importance of a comprehensive DR strategy," Ranajee wrote. "Healthcare IT executives must ensure that they have identified their critical systems and have plans in place to recover if hit with a natural disaster or a cyberattack. The consequences and risks are too great to ignore."

HIPAA compliance should be of major concern to organizations that rely on cloud-based services for their data storage and archiving needs. Not all cloud providers operate in accordance with federal regulations, putting their clients at risk for violation. Furthermore, an emergency scenario could disrupt a medical facility's access to their hosted storage platforms. In some instances, that data may never be recovered. Given the high stakes of healthcare data storage, administrators should backup cloud platforms with physical data archiving solutions.

Go Blu-ray for data archiving needs
Optical media currently offers the best method of securely backing up information for the long haul. In particular, data archiving solutions built upon Blu-ray discs offer a wide range of benefits, including durability, scalability and affordability. DIGISTOR's Enterprise Archive utilizes high-quality Blu-ray discs that have been designed with longevity in mind. Healthcare officials can securely store important medical records for up to 100 years with DIGISTOR's archiving tool. Furthermore, because Blu-ray media is more cost-effective than other storage formats, medical centers can scale up their critical archiving processes without breaking the bank. This means that organizations can enjoy the financial incentives of meaningful use projects instead of having to direct those funds back into their storage needs.

Even healthcare facilities that use the cloud as a primary storage format, should look to Blu-ray data archiving solutions to back up those services. A disruptive event can occur at any time, knocking servers offline and preventing administrators from accessing their hosted documents. DIGISTOR's Enterprise Archive tool ensures that such events are merely an annoyance and not the catastrophic incident that could adversely affect hospital operations for years to come. When choosing an archiving platform, medical officials should prioritize reliability, affordability and scalability over all other considerations. The DIGISTOR Enterprise Archive solution hits on all of those marks, making it ideal for healthcare use.

Lean on longevity, reliability of Blu-ray data archiving solutions

Hard disk drives have long served as the standard platforms for data storage, but their reliability has always been in question. The internal moving parts that power HDDs make them susceptible to damage and ultimately data loss. The Internet is filled with horror stories from people who saw their most priceless documents and files disappear into the ether thanks to a faulty storage drive. More than ever, consumers and business users alike should have a steady archiving solution in place to reclaim information that may be lost due to a malfunctioning HDD.

Writing for How Stuff Works, Ed Grabianowski highlighted some of the many issues that HDD users may encounter, including full-scale hard drive crashes. He stressed that while there are instances when HDDs will give some indication that they are reaching the end of their shelf life, many times these devices cease functioning with no notice whatsoever.

"Don't rely on warning signs to predict hard drive failure," Grabianowski wrote. "Assume that your hard drive is going to fail, and back up critical files. If you have a reliable back-up, you'll save yourself many headaches."

Don't roll the dice on long-term HDD use
Even HDDs that have provided years of flawless service have a finite shelf life. It's important that individuals don't attempt to test their luck and the limits of their hard drives by relying solely on these devices for longer than their expected lifecycle. ExtremeTech contributor Sebastian Anthony reported on a 2013 study on the average failure rate of hard drives, finding that the percentage of HDDS that continued operating fell precipitously following their third year of usage. According to his analysis, approximately half of all hard drives will fail within six years, driving home the point that everyone needs to archive their important documents.

"If you buy a hard drive today, there's a 90 percent chance that it will survive for three years," Anthony stated. "If your drive makes it to the three-year point, you would be wise to back up your data, as there's a 12 percent chance per year that your drive will die."

A member of Apple's online community further brought the need for data backups into focus, stressing that HDD failure isn't a possibility, but an inevitability. When implementing data archiving solutions, users are protecting against a data loss that will occur eventually. And given HDD's notoriously unreliable technology, that hardware failure could come at any time. The forum member explained that when weighing the cost of implementing a backup tool versus the untold value of one-of-a-kind documents and the thousands of hours of work that may have gone into their creation, the urgency for data archiving should become clear.

Blu-ray offers ideal data archiving platform
Both business users and consumers should leverage data archiving solutions that address the longevity and reliability concerns that plague traditional HDD options. To that end, a backup tool that is based on optical media will effectively meet those needs. Blu-ray discs, in particular, have the durability and longevity required to successfully carry out data archiving processes without worrying about the long-term integrity of user information. Today's products are capable of storing a great deal of information on a single disc, making them ideal for both consumer or business use. In addition, Blu-ray as a format avoids the reliability issues that make HDDs risking bets for long-term use. A single disc can effectively work for years, even when stored in relatively inhospitable environments. The lack of any internal, moving components ensures that Blu-ray discs will continue operating even if they are jostled or moved violently.

Furthermore, Blu-ray discs offer a scalability that traditional storage options simply cannot match. When paired with a Blu-ray burner and high-quality archiving software such as DIGISTOR's REWIND, this format can effectively back up as much information as a user sees fit. Because Blu-ray is a cost-effective medium, individuals can ramp up their archiving processes on the fly and keep up with their escalating storage needs. This way, users can avoid feeling the pinch of reaching the end of their archiving tool's storage capacity. With a Blu-ray burner and discs, along with REWIND software, individuals will be able to securely back up their most important and unique documents and files, saving them for later use. There's even a free trial of REWIND available for individuals to download and try out for themselves. By taking this approach to data archiving, users can avoid the headaches that occur following an inevitably hard drive failure.

Blu-ray rocks the cold storage industry

The amount of data produced by companies continues to rise at a rapid clip. A 2011 IBM study found that 2.5 quintillion bytes – or 2.5 exabytes – of data are generated every day. For reference, TechTarget has stated that 50,000 years' worth of video would fit onto a single exabyte. That is a lot of information that needs to find a secure location for long-term storage. With the proliferation of data center operations, cloud servers and big data processes, no piece of information can be considered expendable and discarded. Company leaders must have an effective data archiving solution in place in order to store vast volumes of data for a later date.

Businesses may not readily see the value of backing up their information, but failing to take proper archiving measures could lead to disaster. This is true for both organizations that store their data on-site and in the cloud. IT professionals should already be well aware of the need to have some sort of redundancy in regard to data storage, particularly as traditional hard disk drives are notoriously prone to failure. The spinning platters and moveable read/write heads can be easily damaged, resulting in the loss of whatever information was stored on the device.

The cloud is a risky bet
Cloud service customers are just as vulnerable to data loss, however. There will always be some concern that a cloud provider could suffer a disruptive event that will prevent users from access their hosted information. Some instances may be brief outages, but other events could result in a complete wipe of stored data. Numerous academic researchers across the United States discovered this fact the hard way when a widely used cloud storage service experienced a major outage that permanently erased large volumes of vital data. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Dedoose, a hosted data storage service designed specifically to handle research documentation, was recently hit with a massive technical error that brought servers down and prevented users from accessing their accounts.

Harvard University researcher Margaret Frye was one of the victims of this outage, realizing that when she was finally able to log in, approximately 60 annotated texts had gone missing. Those documents, which covered vital AIDS research in Africa, have yet to be recovered. All told, the outage has cost Frye more than 100 hours' worth of work. Other researchers affected by the event have reported similar losses, with one taking to Facebook to claim that an entire project has been ruined in the aftermath.

"For me, at the time, saving it into the cloud seemed like a way of making my data more secure," Frye said, according to the source. "But now, having this experience, I'm sort of questioning those assumptions."

Optical-based archiving on the rise
These types of incidents demonstrate the immediate need for high-quality data archiving solutions. Redundancy can no longer be considered a luxury by organizational leaders. The costs of a massive data loss event are simply too high for most companies to endure. Increasingly, businesses with major cold storage needs are turning to optical media as their preferred format. Forbes contributor Tom Coughlin noted that optical-based data archiving tools have become popular among some of the more tech-savvy organizations in recent months. For instance, Facebook turned heads when it announced its large-scale cold storage system built upon Blu-ray media. Panasonic and Sony have also pursued new developments in this area, announcing the forthcoming release of a Blu-ray disc specifically designed for archiving large volumes of company data.

"The rapid increase in content for cold storage, particularly in cloud storage environments (especially with consumer content) is leading to a new emphasis on cold storage archiving," Coughlin wrote.

Blu-ray hits the mark
TechnoQWAN Chief Analyst and ZDNet contributor Robin Harris explained that newer, high-capacity Blu-ray discs have proven to be ideal formats for organizations' cold storage needs. Given the significant archiving demands of businesses that run data center facilities, the space offered by these discs is a considerable benefit. There are many other advantages to using Blu-ray for data archiving applications too. Compared with other forms of data storage, Blu-ray discs are extremely affordable. Other large-scale archiving tools can be prohibitively expensive and may need to be replaced for more advanced hardware down the line. Blu-ray discs can be produced at a fraction of the cost, meaning data center operators face low investment expenditures.

Furthermore, Blu-ray's affordability enables organizations to scale up their archiving processes at a moment's notice. Considering that data centers are already inundated with information, and that those data streams will only become more crowded, the ability to raise storage capacity without breaking the bank cannot be underestimated.

Another key feature offered by Blu-ray is durability. What use is an archiving tool if it's prone to failure. Blu-ray discs are surprisingly resilient, capable of enduring harsh environment conditions that would wreak havoc on other forms of technology. Businesses should choose Blu-ray discs for their enterprise-grade data archiving solutions.

Golf Channel turns to optical disc-based archive system

In the face of mounting speculation that it would be usurped by streaming media and cloud storage outlets, Blu-ray media has reestablished itself as a major format by focusing on data archiving solutions. Facebook led the charge earlier this year when it announced an ongoing project to develop an archiving platform based on Blu-ray discs. Now, other organizations are beginning to take notice of this growing trend and investigate the benefits of optical media as a format for large-scale data storage.

Regardless of their industry or sector, businesses across the globe are faced with an irrefutable fact: The amount of data they collect, store and leverage is increasing at a monumental rate. According to a December 2012 IDC study, the amount of digital data in existence will increase by a factor of 300 between 2005 and 2020, reaching 40 trillion gigabytes. Worldwide, data volumes will approximately double every two years for at least the next six years.

This unparalleled increase in information has already placed a great deal of strain on organization's storage systems. Traditional disk-based mediums lack the scalability needed to keep pace with the rise in data. Furthermore, HDDs are notoriously faulty products, prone to damage and operational disruptions. For archiving means, this sensitivity and fragility has created a great deal of concern for business leaders who need to retain their important records for the long haul. Facebook vice president Frank Frankovsky explained to Ars Technica that in order to account for the possibility of hardware failure, organizations would need to invest in backups for their backups or other supplementary tools, potentially wasting a great deal of revenue in the process.

"You need to have a relatively aggressive erasure encoding environment where you have a lot more physical spinning disks, so you can sustain multiple failures and be able to recreate the file in any situation," he said, according to the source.

Golf Channel makes the jump to Blu-ray
Blu-ray discs and other optical media offer the right combination of scalability, durability and cost-effectiveness to present an ideal solution for businesses' data archiving needs. Since Facebook broke ground on its project, other organizations have followed suit. According to TV Technology, Golf Channel recently announced that it planned to adopt an automated, optical disc-based archival system. As a media operation, Golf Channel has a considerable demand for data archiving tools. With high-definition video becoming the standard for television transmissions, broadcasters are only going to see their storage needs increase in the coming years. A single snippet of video could represent several gigabytes of data that must be archived for later use. This is particularly true for sports broadcasters as old telecasts of football games, golf tournaments and other events will draw a great deal of interest for years to come.

For the past eight years, Golf Channel used a linear tape-open system for its archiving needs. However, magnetic tape did not provide the functionality and performance needed to ensure reliable and streamlined data archiving. Ultimately, the organization found itself going through several iterations of LTO technology to keep pace with its changing demands.

"During that time, we realized that LTO was not the ideal solution," said Ken Botelho, senior director of engineering for Golf Channel. "Mylar tape stretches and LTO lacks backward compatibility. We ended up changing through various LTO formats, from LTO 2 to LTO 5."

The source explained that Blu-ray discs provide numerous benefits over tape-based archiving products. For instance, they are not as susceptible to the quality-diminishing effects of exposure to moisture, humidity, ultraviolet radiation, corrosive gases and magnetism. Furthermore, LTO tapes are only designed for approximately 250 read/write cycles, limiting their long-term viability. Some Blu-ray discs have been rated for more than one million passes. This functionality allows users to confidently access information whenever needed without having to worry that they are eroding the device's operability in the process. For an organization like Golf Channel that will likely have to dive into their video archives on a regular basis, this durability provides considerable advantages over tape-based alternatives.

Amazon may be eyeing Blu-ray system
Golf Channel is just the latest organization to turn to Blu-ray for its archiving needs. Industry analyst Robin Harris suggested that Amazon's long-rumored Glacier archiving service will likely run on high-performance Blu-ray discs. He reasoned that a tape- or disk-based system would not be able to account for the company's massive storage needs. Only optical media could get the job done effectively and without breaking the bank.

What makes Amazon's case so interesting is that if Harris' insights prove to be true, the company is using optical media to support cloud storage tools. Many industry observers once speculated that the cloud and other Internet-based tools would render storage discs obsolete. With Blu-ray becoming a viable solution for data storage and archiving, the hosted services that were once believed to eliminate optical media now rely on it to function themselves. Blu-ray will continue to be a major force within this sector, providing large and small organizations alike with the durability and scalability needed to securely store files for later use.

Blu-ray solidifies data archiving role

Blu-ray is currently in the midst of a rejuvenation of sorts as organizations increasingly reconsider the format's applications. For some time now, supposed media format experts have claimed that optical discs were outdated and would be phased out in the coming years. These opinions have largely been informed by the rise of streaming media and connected services. Netflix, Hulu and similar online services capable of delivering content without the use of physical media have been seen by some as the future standard for home entertainment – the traditional application for Blu-ray media.

Internet-based content delivery has yet to achieve the same level of reliability and performance offered by Blu-ray discs, however. Limited bandwidth can easily prevent consumers from receiving video that features crystal-clear and highly detailed playback. Blu-ray, meanwhile, provides the same consistent, crisp image quality that has wowed consumers and solidified the format's place at the top of the home entertainment sector.

Businesses look to Blu-ray for archiving
Blu-ray has moved far beyond that narrow focus in recent years, incorporating additional features that offer more enterprise-focused benefits. Most notably, Blu-ray has carved out a position as a cost-effective, scalable and reliable data archiving solution. Some of the tech industry's biggest players have turned to optical media to handle some of their storage needs. Facebook caused waves when it announced its in-development archiving platform that utilizes thousands of Blu-ray discs to quickly and effortlessly scale up storage space.

According to ZDNet contributor Robin Harris, it appears that Facebook is not the only esteemed company to recognize Blu-ray's value as a data archiving tool. Full details regarding Amazon's data backup service, Glacier, have yet to be revealed, but industry observers believe it will be based on optical discs. Although end users will access information through the cloud, that data needs to be stored on a physical drive on Amazon's end. Conventional wisdom would have dictated that the company would use traditional hard drives for these tasks, but that does not appear to be the case.

Harris explained that if proven to be true, Amazon's decision to go with optical discs makes a great deal of sense for a variety of reasons. One of the major benefits to Blu-ray media is its longevity. The fragile internal moving parts that keep hard disk drives running have a finite shelf life that may end sooner than users think. According to Harris, HDDs as well as tape-based devices may need to be replaced within five years of installation, making them poor choices for an archiving solution. Meanwhile, Blu-ray discs that are designed for archiving purposes can continue operating for 50 years or longer. That vastly superior life span will translate into lower operational costs since companies will not need to migrate their archives multiple times during the course of a single decade. Furthermore, that longevity and durability will decrease the likelihood that important information will be lost due to a malfunctioning archive unit that has outlived its usefulness.

From a purely cost-based perspective, Blu-ray wins out as well. Individual discs are inexpensive and plentiful, making inevitable archiving expansions a breeze. Tape- or disk-based alternatives may require far more costly upgrades whenever changes need to be made to the archiving system.

One factor that business leaders may overlook when choosing their data archiving solutions is if the format will meet their legal requirements. According to Harris, rewritable nature of HDDs and tape can create some legal concerns. Because archive-based Blu-ray discs can be write-once, they can better address the legal needs of an organization.

New Blu-ray format embraced by archiving industry
Blu-ray's recent resurgence as a viable data archiving solution has been partially spurred by the emergence of higher-capacity discs. Sony and Panasonic have created a new Blu-ray format specifically designed for backing up large volumes of information. The lowest capacity iteration offers 300GB worth of storage space, while the high-end models offer 1TB. Engineers have pushed the capacity of Blu-ray by creating double-sided discs that feature three layers, allowing for more data to be written.

As EE Times Europe contributor Nick Flaherty noted, this new iteration of Blu-ray media has distinguished itself from its predecessors by effectively ending a format war before it has even begun. In previous generations of storage technology, vying platforms typically competed to gain market share and position themselves at the top. Even the ubiquitous Blu-ray went through such a period, going head-to-head with HD-DVD. This is the first time in decades that a new disc format has been accepted as the industry standard without needing to launch a single salvo.

These higher-capacity discs will prove to be extremely useful for data center operations that require a new approach to their archiving methods. Flaherty explained that switching to a data backup solution built upon Blu-ray archive discs will significantly benefit data centers, including reducing the amount of energy used to write, store and access information that has been traditionally kept on inefficient hard drives.

Blu-ray discs' appeal as data archiving solutions is not limited to enterprises or data centers, however. The format's cost-effectiveness make it a viable platform for smaller organizations as well. With the help of a Blu-ray burner, businesses can carry out a simple yet comprehensive archiving process without breaking a sweat.

"In the era of 6TB hard drives we tend to forget that many businesses don't need petabytes of archive capacity," Harris wrote. "If 50TB of local archive capacity works for you today, with the promise of much higher capacities coming soon, then optical may be your solution."