My recent experiences with archiving irreplaceable home videos has prompted me to post a reminder for you to ensure your valued home videos are freshly archived in a format that is not obsolete.
Most of my family’s home video was recorded to VHS or Mini DV tapes. Over the years I used a Pioneer DVR to record these tapes to its hard drive then burnt DVD’s using high end Verbatim or TDK discs. I made several copies of each and distributed them to family members for redundancy, about 180 discs total.
I have recently upgraded my computer which can process video conversions 10 times faster than my last, so I decided it was time to convert all the DVD’s to MP4 files and store them on HDD’s. I found the burnt DVD’s that were around 10 years old struggled to be read and the 12 year old DVD’s would not read at all. Very worrying as I hadn’t considered these discs to fail in that time.
Luckily, after many hours of trying other methods, I found a magic program that, given some time, managed to recover all the data from the unreadable discs. Roadkil’s Unstoppable Copier http://www.roadkil.net/program.php?ProgramID=29 is old but still works on Win10.
I discovered my Pioneer DVR still had unburnt family videos on its HDD but would shut down after being on for a short time. The HDD in these will not play in any other player, even the same model. I was able to obtain another unit and rat a power supply board from it to get mine going.
I then found my old Panasonic MiniDV camcorder which had tapes with it I hadn’t transferred, including my own wedding. I transferred three out of six remaining tapes before the camera went fatally faulty. It is not easy to find a cheap working Mini DV camcorder now and professional transfer services are expensive. I have managed to borrow a camera but this whole ordeal has been an eye opener.
I have made a number of copies onto HDD’s and sent a couple offsite. I feel HDD’s are the safer way (and cheapest) to store important data and should be ok in the long run if they are re-written at least every few years.