Rhodri Marsden: Why have the DVDs I recorded become totally unwatchable?
Wednesday 29 July 2009
Like me, it's possible that you had a moment a few years back when your shelves of VHS tapes suddenly seemed like a grotesque waste of space better used for pot plants or commemorative porcelain. Like me, you may have transferred them to recordable DVD in a time-consuming orgy of duplication before chucking them in a skip. And like me, you undoubtedly had a nostalgic moment last week when you reached for one of those DVDs containing footage of you prancing about onstage in Zürich 15 years ago with your once-plentiful hair in pigtails and pummelling a battered guitar, only to discover that it refuses to play.
Quite why I made that schoolboy error of imagining that recordable CDs or DVDs would provide me with an archive for posterity is unclear, although some of the blame could be laid at the door of a 'Tomorrow's World' segment from the mid 1980s which sowed the dubious seed of information that shiny 120mm discs are "indestructible".
While those manufactured by the entertainment industry are pretty hardy, the recordable ones (and particularly the ones you bought ages ago in batches of 200 for next to nothing on eBay) have the longevity of a sickly guinea pig. You don't even need to mistreat them; leaving them quietly sitting in a box in a cupboard seems to finish them off. The chances of them yielding up their contents after five years depends mainly on the resilience of the organic dye they contain; that's where the data is etched and, sadly, dye can and will degrade.
In recent years Verbatim and Memorex have produced "archival grade" media which is supposed to last decades, but that doesn't help us poor saps who didn't bother to archive our archives each year on to new, more reliable discs. I mean, seriously, who has the time?
Last week a US company announced that they'd soon be producing rewritable DVDs with a lifespan of 1,000 years. Millenniata (you see what they did there) will be selling their disks for $12 (£7) each and their DVD writers for an eye-watering $2,500 – but hey, good to know that our home videos will still be watchable in the year 2525, if man is still alive, and indeed can get his hands on an antique DVD player.
But all this has come too late for me; my Zürich memories are destined to degrade slowly within my brain rather than be uploaded forever on YouTube. Although maybe that's for the best.
Email any technology gripes to firstname.lastname@example.org or join the discussions on the blog at www.independent.co.uk/cyberclinic
Life & Style blogs
Penis size study: what's 'normal' anyway?
What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
Penis size: is there a correlation with sexual satisfaction? A scientific look
From criminal to catwalk: Convict Jeremy Meeks wins modelling contract in the most unusual fashion scouting – behind bars
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This distributor and wholesaler...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Bonus, Pension, 25days hol, PHC +: Ashdown Group: ...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will h...