Taking a balanced approach to bitcoin storage

The digital age demands a digital currency. With so many payment transactions occurring online, traditional forms of payment like personal checks have fallen by the wayside in favor of convenient, real-time processes. Among the various platforms that have arisen in the digital environment, Bitcoin may provide the most promise. Unlike many other forms of online payment, Bitcoin is an entirely separate currency, gaining considerable value in recent years as more consumers and businesses seek out a secure digital solution. But new forms of payment require alternative methods of storing valuable currency. After all, it's not as if users can simply store their bitcoins in their neighborhood bank.

CoinDesk explained that there are many different options available to people looking to safely store their bitcoins, each with their own advantages. For instance, online wallets have gained in popularity thanks to their support for anytime access. Individuals who want to spend their money at a moment's notice regardless of where they are or what devices they're using may find a lot of value in a Web-based system. It should be noted, that such a tool will essentially place oversight of a person's bitcoin stash in the hands of a third party.

Although the owner will typically be the only one with actual access to bitcoins stored through an online wallet, these platform use private keys to manage the currency. If an individual loses that information, or it falls into the wrong hands, he or she could be out of luck. That may not sit well with everyone, particularly given the increasing number of threats lurking in cyberspace.

Go offline for greater security
People who want to take a more hands-on approach with their bitcoin storage may want to consider their offline options. CoinDesk recommends striking the right balance between funds stored on a physical drive for future use and more readily accessible money placed in a digital wallet.

"Cold storage wallets store private bitcoin keys offline, so that they can't be stolen by someone else on the Internet," the source explained. "It's a good idea to use cold storage for the bulk of your bitcoin fortune, and transfer just a little to separate bitcoin addresses in a 'hot' wallet with an Internet connection, making it easy to spend. That way, even if your mobile phone is lost, or the hot wallet on your notebook PC is erased during a hard drive crash, only a small amount of bitcoin cash is at risk."

To feel completely secure about the integrity of their bitcoin stash, consumers may need to go the extra mile with their archiving methods. In today's environment, the concept of a connected device has gotten a bit muddled, with so much equipment tapped into the Web in some fashion. CoinSafe urged bitcoin users to completely verify that their storage device is completely severed from the Internet. The best way to do that is to place this sensitive data on offline physical media. Even here, there are many types of backup drives to consider, but optical discs may be the best option.

Optical media offers the greatest advantages
Blu-ray media has quietly gained a reputation for unparalleled excellence among those who take data archiving solutions seriously. The format's combination of durability, scalability and longevity makes it ideal for long-term storage. Bitcoin owners, however, may be primarily attracted to Blu-ray's defense against digital incursion. Connected devices will always be vulnerable, but Blu-ray discs will never be faced with such a threat. For individuals who want to follow CoinDesk's advice regarding striking a balance between cold and hot storage, it may be helpful to think of Blu-ray as the bitcoin version of a savings account. When a rainy day comes, you'll be glad you have it.

Another key point to keep in mind regarding Blu-ray is the format's affordability. Other storage options may require a significant up-front investment to get up and running. Bitcoin users who want to begin saving their money on Blu-ray only need to obtain a reliable Blu-ray burner and a set of discs. Today's discs can hold large volumes of data, so consumers don't need to worry about exceeding their capacity. As data archiving solutions, Blu-ray discs make it easy to scale up quickly and affordably.

There's no denying Bitcoin's place in the modern economy. To take advantage of the currency without putting their money at risk, users will want a long-term storage option with the reliability that only Blu-ray can provide.

What do Comcast data caps mean for larger file needs?

The telecom industry has been abuzz for months now regarding a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Industry insiders and observers have raised concerns that the resulting company would have control over too much carrier infrastructure in the U.S., leaving consumers with little choice but to accept whatever service packages are offered. Most notably, telecom and tech writers alike have cautioned against the possibility that these two companies would look to impose data caps on their Internet connections, affecting the quality of their offerings.

Gizmodo Managing Editor Brian Barrett explained in February that Comcast currently places 300GB limits on network transmissions, which could present problems for users as their consumption needs increase. Although conceding that that figure seems large now, Barrett cautioned users against the belief that only a small minority of intensive consumers will be affected by such caps down the road.

"[A]s streaming services become more and more prevelant (sic) – and more robust – that's going to change," he wrote. "What happens three years from now when you're streaming 4K Netflix on your ultra high-def television? … That's where broadband data caps are truly insidious; you may be able to escape your monthly cable bill, but you're still stuck paying Comcast for access to the internet that powers your Hulu Plus, Aereo, Netflix smorgasboard (sic)."

Comcast pilots widespread data capping
Barrett's prediction appears to be a step closer to fruition as Comcast officials have openly discussed aggressively pursuing more data caps recently. Decision-makers with the telecom spoke to shareholders attending the Comcast Corporation at MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit, raising the issue of charging customers by usage instead of a flat rate. Comcast executive vice president David Cohen explained that the company has already rolled out a series of pilot programs testing the effectiveness of such an approach. Cohen went on to forecast that Comcast will likely institute data caps across its entire coverage area within five years.

Although Cohen stressed that a usage-based pricing plan would present a more balanced and fair method of paying for services, more customers could fall into the heavy consumer category as streaming services become more advanced and require more bandwidth. High-definition video is now the standard level of quality, and Netflix users will increasingly expect clear and crisp transfers. Even if streaming service providers are able to improve their product and meet that demand, customers will still need to contend with their Internet provider. Simply watching a single movie in high definition could consume a great deal of bandwidth and push the viewer closer to his or her data ceiling.

It's unlikely that Cohen's comments are simple musings holding little weight. As PCWorld contributor Ian Paul noted, the company has a long history of pursuing restrictive methods. He explained that in earlier trials, Comcast did not provide users with an option to increase their bandwidth ceiling at all, but were instead issued warnings and the threat of having their accounts suspended.

Addressing high data needs
Streaming services have been viewed by industry observers as the final nail in the coffin for physical media. This new wrinkle presented by Comcast's apparent insistence on introducing data caps across its entire network should cast doubt in the minds of consumers. Even now, Netflix, Hulu and similar Internet-based providers are unable to offer consistent video quality, with feeds often fluctuating between HD and standard definition. The inclusion of data caps will only further complicate matters and reduce the likelihood that these companies will be able to deliver clear transfers.

Physical media – and Blu-ray, in particular – are not beholden to such network concerns. Files stored on a Blu-ray disc will never be subject to issues such as bandwidth throttling or traffic bottlenecks. Media viewed or otherwise accessed through a Blu-ray disc will always provide the same quality and experience every time out. Until telecoms and streaming service providers find a way to address high-volume network traffic without hitting the consumer's pocketbook, optical media will continue to stand as the best method of delivering high-definition video. Consumer appetites for HD content continue to rise, and these recent events suggest that Internet-based organizations are not up to the task to meet those needs. Blu-ray stands as the ideal platform for record, storing and viewing high-definition video.

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.

Gamers choose optical discs over digital media

Optical discs have been under fire since the outset of this current video gamer generation. Digital media has continually infiltrated the gaming sphere, with more companies distributing content through Internet-based channels. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all created dedicated online storefronts for customers to download select games. When Microsoft first announced the successor to its Xbox 360 console, the tech giant stated that games could only be played if the system was connected to a user's online profile. Although there were some advantages to this proposed process, many gamers cried foul over the need to have a constant Internet connection in order to run games stored on physical media. In response to the ensuing backlash, Microsoft changed its position on the matter, reverting to the tried-and-true formula of enabling games to be played offline.

The gaming population has continued to show their preference for physical over connected or digital media. This is understandable as actually holding a physical disc or cart offers a much stronger sense of ownership then simply being given the right to access a gaming company's digital content. The NPD Group recently released a study on the habits of the "core gaming" customer subset, GameSpot reported. In this instance, a core gamer is defined as someone who plays at least five hours each week on a dedicated gaming console, PC or Mac. Researchers found that nearly three-fourths of core gamers prefer owning physical copies of video games over digital media, assuming that each was offered at the same price.

Blu-ray continues to hold sway with gamers
Video game manufacturers along with virtually any other organization that deals with both physical and digital content should take note of the report's results. Gamers – and likely consumers in general – still hold a strong preference for physical media, despite the assertions of some industry observers that digital is the way of the future. Digital media remains a relatively new concept for many individuals, and they are unlikely to simply ditch physical products altogether in favor of an unknown quantity. Ignoring the demand for concrete gaming discs could drive away potential platform adopters and ultimately cut into a company's bottom line.

"Core gamers are an important part of the games industry and understanding their behavior is critical to anyone invested in the games space – especially considering the launch of the new consoles and the continued evolution of digital gaming," said NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan.

Blu-ray offers durability, reliability
Consumers of various types of media, including video games, movies and music, have repeatedly raised concerns about their ability to access digital content down the road. The proliferation of digital rights management technology has been a major driver of these fears, with many people wondering if there's anything stopping a company from cutting off an individual's access to something he or she legitimately purchased years earlier. With physical drives, these concerns simply do not exist. There's nothing stopping people from pulling out their old ColecoVision systems and firing up a game of Donkey Kong.

Furthermore, optical media such as Blu-ray discs are much more durable than consumers might realize, ensuring that they continue to work properly for years. They are incredibly resilient against environmental factors that could otherwise warp or erode other digital components. In addition, platforms like an industrial optical drive often support cross-format usage, meaning various types of discs can run on the same hardware. This reduces not only the amount of equipment that a consumer or business user must purchase and store, but the headaches that one might encounter by accounting for every format used on a regular basis.

That level of performance of reliability has emboldened Panasonic and Sony to continue throwing their support behind Blu-ray and optical media in general. The companies announced in July 2013 that they had formed a partnership to further develop this technology and create more advanced discs capable of storing more data.

"Optical discs have excellent properties to protect them against the environment, such as dust-resistance and water-resistance, and can also withstand changes in temperature and humidity when stored," the companies stated. "They also allow inter-generational compatibility between different formats, ensuring that data can continue to be read even as formats evolve. This makes them a robust medium for long-term storage of content."

Looking to the future of Blu-ray
Blu-ray discs have recently emerged as ideal data archiving solutions, with companies such as Facebook and Amazon.com developing massive storage systems based on the format. Optical discs offer an inexpensive, scalable and reliable method of saving important records for the long haul. Blu-ray, in particular, is likely to see its use for data archiving applications increase further as organizations across every industry see their amount of incoming information rise dramatically over the coming years. That data needs to stored somewhere for later use, and Blu-ray discs offer the most efficient and cost-effective way to do so.

Despite the increasing use of digital media, Blu-ray isn't going anywhere. For consumers and business users alike, the format still has a great deal to offer in terms of reliability and performance. Gamers continue to demand that their consoles run on affordable physical media, meaning that for the foreseeable future, Blu-ray will reign as the standard format for these machines. With major tech companies increasingly turning to optical discs to build data archiving solutions, Blu-ray will not only be a major enterprise component in the short term, but will likely be a relevant form of media for years to come. The future is very bright indeed for Blu-ray.

Securely store Bitcoin currency with offline Blu-ray media

Bitcoin has quickly transformed from an online curiosity to a major form of digital currency. The idea of a form of currency that lacked the backing of a government treasury would seem implausible just a few years ago. But, today, Bitcoin has become a viable method of paying for online goods and services. Currently, a single bitcoin is worth approximately $450.

Since its introduction, there have been countless offshoots of the original platform, with numerous alternatives sprouting up in recent months and years. Despite the increasing competition, Bitcoin has retained its place atop the digital currency heap, partially due to brand recognition, but also by distinguishing itself from other digital payment systems by focusing on encrypting payments.

Security concerns persist
That dedication to security has benefited Bitcoin users, but it has not fully addressed prevailing concerns in this regard. There are still many avenues for criminals to steal these funds from individuals. For the most part, bitcoins are stored through online mediums, entrusting security to a third party. The entire basis of Bitcoin and its ilk depends on users remaining confident that their currency will remain safe and available at all times. After all, a bank that keeps getting robbed will run out of customers pretty quickly. Some of these online storage facilities have not been able to hold up their end of the bargain, suffering significant breaches that have cost users a great deal of money.

In one of the more extreme instances, thieves cracked the defenses of Mt. Gox, a widely used Bitcoin exchange, and, over time, stole 850,000 units. With today's exchange rates, the stolen amount represents approximately $495 million. According to ZDNet contributor Charlie Osborne, 750,000 of the lost bitcoins belonged to Mt. Gox customers. In the aftermath of the prolonged theft, Mt. Gox has since declared for bankruptcy in both Japan and the United States, while questions persist regarding the circumstances surrounding the lost currency. Some observers have suggested that the story of a breach has been used as a smokescreen to cover up fraudulent activity. As of now, only 200,000 bitcoins have been recovered following the incident, leaving many customers out in the cold.

Keep bitcoins safe with offline storage
Such worrisome breaches have driven concerns about the integrity of digital currency that is stored through online channels. Forbes contributor John Villasenor recently consulted with three Bitcoin professionals to discuss this matter as well as identify opportunities for improvement. Blockchain.info CEO Nicholas Cary explained that the different means of storage offer certain advantages but may have significant issues as well. For instance, a mobile storage app will allow users to access their bitcoins from their smartphone, tablet or other device and conveniently spend them whenever needed. However, if a cybercriminal or other unauthorized user gets his or her hands on that device, those funds could be as good as gone.

Individuals who value security over any other factor should consider an offline storage method. Cary explained that by placing bitcoins on a physical drive, users can limit the number of potential access points. With assets as valuable as digital currency, people should avoid using an unreliable device that may be prone to malfunction or damage. Traditional, disk-based hard drives are notorious for experiencing significant problems because of the frailty of their internal components. If a read/write head is damaged, the bitcoins stored on the device could be lost forever.

A far better alternative is to store bitcoins on Blu-ray media. These discs are functional, sturdy and cost-effective, making them an ideal format for data storage and archiving. Unlike online channels, Blu-ray discs cannot be accessed through a network connection, eliminating the possibility that a cybercriminal will steal a user's funds. Furthermore, despite their elegant design, Blu-ray discs are extremely durable, being able to withstand many elements that could diminish the functionality of other storage devices. This allows individuals to safely and confidently store their highly valuable digital assets for years without needing to transfer them to another platform. That level of security and dependability is absolutely critical when storing such important items.

Using a Blu-ray burner with Windows 8

As more consumers and organizations upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8, they may find that their old hardware is not compatible with Microsoft's latest operating system. This is particularly troublesome for individuals who rely on their Blu-ray burners for comprehensive data archiving. If their hardware is unable to function properly on a Windows 8 platform, they will be unable to securely store and back up critical files and documents, leaving themselves vulnerable to costly data loss. 

Go with DIGISTOR for complete compatibility
For those who want to make sure that they can reliably copy information to disc on their Windows 8-based computers, DIGISTOR's line of Blu-ray burners has the answer. DIGISTOR drives fully support Windows 8, eliminating any concerns about compatibility. Both consumers and business operators can use the REWIND software that comes bundled with every Blu-ray burner to quickly and easily back up their important and irreplaceable files and documents to a permanent personal archive on Blu-ray disc. This way, any crucial data can be safely stored in the event that it needs to be retrieved at a later date. Organizations ranging from Amazon to Facebook have begun to recognize Blu-ray as a cost-effective, durable and scalable format for data archiving. Smaller operations and individuals can similarly use the media format for their long-term storage needs.

DIGISTOR also has users covered for their video playback needs. Most DIGISTOR Blu-ray burners also come equipped with ArcSoft software, enabling users to not only burn media files to disc, but to play them on their computers as well. By choosing a DIGISTOR device with both multimedia and archive software packages, customers can enjoy a full range of high-end features, including video playback and data archiving. Even those individuals who have a preferred software package for their disc-burning needs won't be left in the cold. As long as the program is compatible with Windows 8, it will work flawlessly with a DIGISTOR device. No off-the-shelf product will be able to provide the full range of features, compatibility and performance benefits offered by DIGISTOR external Blu-ray burners.

Optical media continues to win over end users

Consumers and businesses alike have far more data storage options than in years past. From the cloud to solid state drives, there's likely a medium that will meet the specific needs of an individual or organization. With so many available potential solutions, however, it's important that users consider the various attributes of each before investing in a particular storage device. The most high-tech and advanced options on the market may not be the most optimal solutions for a given situation. For instance, optical media – despite being used for decades – can easily outshine newer storage formats in many cases.

Some industry observers have been predicting the death of optical media for years, given the increasing popularity of alternatives like the cloud and streaming media. As Columbia Daily Tribune contributor Scott May noted, people continue to use CDs, DVDs and – in particular – Blu-ray discs for their various data, video and music needs. Software developers have taken note of optical media's perennial relevance, releasing high-powered programs designed to wring the most value out of storage discs. The development community's continued support for this medium demonstrates its lasting power.

"Despite the popularity of online multimedia streaming to devices such as smartphones, tablets and Internet-ready televisions, the age of the optical disc is not quite over," May wrote.

Connected alternatives present major concerns
Blu-ray and other forms of optical media landed one of their biggest blows against streaming media and Internet-based resources when Microsoft was forced to take back its vow to launch a disc-less video game system. The tech giant received an outpouring of criticism from gamers who were not ready to give up on physical media and held some major concerns about the performance of an Internet-only platform. When the Xbox One was ultimately released in November 2013, it came equipped with an disc drive, and its games were released on Blu-ray media.

IT News Africa contributor Ruben Naicker explained that optical media such as Blu-ray continues to provide a great deal of value to the average user. The format presents a happy middle ground between technological sophistication and widespread availability, making it an ideal solution in many instances.

"While it is true that Hard Disk Drives (HDD) and flash drives are a lot cheaper than they used to be, for mass reproduction and dissemination of information, optical media, specifically CDs and DVDs, remain very popular," Naicker stated.

Naicker noted that despite the cloud's growing popularity, it has not completely saturated every market. Because the cloud remains a foreign concept to many users, it does not always present the most efficient way to distribute content to every relevant party. Meanwhile, many people have a Blu-ray drive installed on their work and personal computers, simplifying the delivery of materials to a large number of individuals who may not otherwise have access to a hosted service.

Echoing the concerns of countless Xbox users, Naicker also questioned the reliability of streaming media as a wholesale alternative to optical media. Due to the widespread popularity of streaming services and websites such as Netflix and YouTube, some industry observers have predicted that disc-based formats would fall out of favor among consumers. However, the rampant performance issues associated with streaming services, including those related to limited bandwidth and outages, have raised legitimate fears that this format lacks the capacity to fully meet quality standards. Blu-ray discs, on the other hand, offer the same consistent, high-definition playback every time they are used.

Blu-ray soldiers on as an archiving medium
Perhaps the most useful application for Blu-ray and other optical media formats is data storage and archiving. Standard data security best practices suggest that individuals keep backups on hand in the event that critical files are either lost or corrupted. These events are a nuisance for consumers, but they present a much greater threat to small business owners. Information such as sales records, financial statements and client profiles can be lost in an instant, significantly impairing normal business operations. By saving copies of this content on a physical drive, organizations can quickly and easily restore it without skipping a beat.

"[D]ata protection best practice recommends keeping more than one backup of critical information, and many small businesses and even home users still use optical media for this purpose," Naicker wrote.

Traditional disk-based hard drives may not be ideal data archiving solutions. As Naicker noted, purchasing multiple devices is a very expensive proposition, and the stored information cannot be readily shared with all relevant parties. Blu-ray discs address these concerns by offering an easy and cost-effective method of archiving and sharing critical company records.

Blu-ray beats out HDDs in another critical area of performance: durability. The magnetic plates and read/write heads within HDDs are extremely fragile and vulnerable to impact or other trauma. If these internal components are damaged, the information stored on a drive could be lost forever. Meanwhile, Blu-ray discs are sturdy and – more importantly – easy to replicate. If users are concerned about losing or breaking a disc and potentially losing its data, they can simply create multiple copies. This offers a level of security that traditional, disk-based devices cannot begin to approach.

Although streaming media and hosted solutions are quickly picking up steam with consumers and business users, optical media still holds a crucial position in various markets. Beyond media playback, Blu-ray has solidified itself as a major force within the data archiving sector, offering a reliable, repeatable and cost-effective method of storing important information for later use. For consumers and small businesses that want put their data loss fears to bed, a Blu-ray data archiving solution may be the answer.

Scientists use Blu-ray discs to find microorganisms

For years, consumers have used Blu-ray discs to watch their favorite movies in high-quality video transfer and play the latest and most advanced video games. Recently, numerous alternative applications for the format have emerged, re-energizing interest in Blu-ray. For instance, Facebook has pursued a data archiving solution that is supported entirely by thousands of Blu-ray discs. Given the durability, cost-effectiveness and high-performance of Blu-ray, it's no wonder that organizations from disparate fields have found new ways to take advantage of this technology. Researchers at Spain's Polytechnic University of Valencia have discovered an entirely unique application for Blu-ray discs that could change the way that certain types of biomatter are collected and analyzed.

According to Plataforma SINC, those researchers found that optical media – and Blu-ray discs, in particular – can be leveraged to detect various types of life-forms and substances in their lab samples. A study published in the scientific journal "Biosensors and Bioelectronics" casts more light on the process, noting that Blu-ray offers a more cost-effective alternative to traditional methods of data collection. The surface of a disc acts as an analysis platform upon which lab workers can conduct tests. Afterward, they use a Blu-ray player's laser reader to spot different forms of bacteria and other materials in the sample, including toxins, allergens and tumoral biomarkers.

Blu-ray structure supports lab analysis needs
The process involves placing microarray and two-dimensional array samples on the discs. Because Blu-ray discs feature hydrophobic surfaces, tiny protein-based samples can be locked into place like beads of water on a waxy leaf. Researchers found that using Blu-ray media in this matter achieved results similar to what could be gained through standard procedures. One of the primary benefits of this method is the ability to quickly and easily eliminate samples from scientific consideration before lab workers put more time and effort into conducting further analysis.

Researchers stated that there are numerous applications for this technology such as identifying potentially harmful bacteria located in breast milk or determining the concentration levels of toxins in drinking water. The university's team has already achieved some encouraging results utilizing Blu-ray discs to detect pathogenic bacteria in their materials. Using Blu-ray in this fashion, scientists can leverage a low-cost method to analyze large volumes of samples.

Sergi Morais, the research team's associate principal investigator, provided further details on the study to optics.org. He explained that other practical applications for this technology include ascertaining the health and well-being of livestock and enhancing in vitro tests for allergens. Morais also noted that this method does not require a great deal of additional equipment beyond a Blu-ray player and discs, making the process all the more cost-effective. Because many organizations have difficulty acquiring public funding for the technology's applicable fields, Morais and his team hope that their breakthrough can facilitate this kind of research.

"Our team has been working with this type of technology for 10 years," Morais told optics.org. "We started working with regular CDs then DVDs. Then we realized that Blu-ray was even more sensitive than the previous formats."

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."