If you routinely back up large amounts of data and are tired of dealing with external hard drive failures, then a new announcement by Sony might be exactly what you've been hoping for.
On Monday, Sony announced
a new optical disc standard for long term data storage, called the Archival Disc, which lets you store upto 300GB on one disc, or over ten times the data you can on a typical Blu-ray disc. The Archival Disc is a new standard jointly developed by Sony and Panasonic
. The two companies have both earlier worked to develop the Blu-ray disc standard.
The new Archival Discs will have a lot more storage than existing options, giving you 300GB of storage. In contrast, single sided DVDs hold a maximum of 4.37GB, while movie DVDs use a standard called Dual Layer DVD, which can store up to 7.95GB. Double-Sided DVDs hold 8.74GB, and dual-layered double sided DVDs can hold up to 15.9GB. A Blu-ray disc holds 25GB per layer, wih dual layer discs being the industry standard for movies. Triple layer discs which can store 100GB and quadruple layers (128GB) also exist. There have been reports
of 1TB discs in the past, but no commercial developments.
According to Sony's announement, the Archival Disc will also have inter-generational compatibility between different formats, so data can be read even as formats evolve. This is similar to how you can still use CDs in your Blu-ray drive. Sony's roadmap suggests that as signal processing technology develops, these discs will go from 300GB now, to 500GB and eventually will hit 1TB, making them a great way to back up large quantities of data for long term storage.
External hard disk drives (HDDs) of 1TB or more are steadily becoming common in the consumer market, but remain expensive, and are vulnerable to damage from tempreature and humidity. While optical discs are relatively fragile, if handled carefully, they remain a better choice for long term storage as they are also dust and water resistant. If you want to regularly access the data though, a HDD will remain a better option.