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Archive for February, 2012

M-Disc: the DVD made out of stone that lasts 1,000 years

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

There have been times when we’ve all wished that we’d made a second backup, or kept our optical discs out of the sun — but we haven’t, and the data is lost. But what if you had a backup medium that was near indestructible, almost immune to extreme conditions, and made of stone?

Introducing, the Millenniata M-Disc; a 4.7GB DVD with a data layer made out of stone-like metals and metalloids.  Whereas a conventional home-made optical disc has a very soft recording/data layer that isn’t very resistant to heat, humidity and light and has an average lifespan of around 5-10 years, the M-Disc has a much tougher data layer that can withstand the test of time.

According to Millenniata and the US Department of Defense, the M-Disc is incredibly resilient. In a test, 25 different discs, including the M-Disc, were exposed to 85C (185F) temperatures, 85% humidity, and bright, full-spectrum light for 24 hours. Where every other recordable DVD failed the test with thousands of read errors and complete loss of data, the M-Disc passed with full data integrity and just a handful of errors.

Millenniata claims that the stone layer of its DVDs should retain data for over 10,000 years — however the polycarbonate coating is only good for 1,000 years. Either way, both figures exceed the 5-10 year average lifespan of hard drives, recordable DVDs, and flash drives.

On the down side M-Discs can’t be burnt with your current DVD burner —the melting stone requires a laser that’s five times stronger than normal! However, M-Discs are backwards compatible and can be read by normal DVD drives. Nonetheless, at around $7 per disk, the M-Disc is incredibly expensive for just 4.7GB of storage.

Furthermore, if you were to use M-Discs as your primary backup medium, you would need vast amounts of space to store the discs. To back up just 10 terabytes, you would need 2,130 M-Discs, which would occupy about the same space as 10 hard drives.

M-Disc; stone age technology for the future? With such rapid development in technology, will we even have access to an antique DVD player in a 1,000 years’ time?

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