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How to Backup Your Data to Blu-ray

There are all sorts of formats that you can use for backing up your data. While using an optical disc might seem like an old school solution, it shouldn’t be discounted, especially Blu-ray discs.

Blu-ray may have won in the fight against HD-DVD back in the day, but they’re also fading out in favour of digital videos offered through platforms like Netflix. Nevertheless, Blu-ray discs can be great for backup.

A standard Blu-ray disc can hold 25GB of data; double layer discs hold – you guessed it! – 50GB of data. While a disc might not be suitable for data you want to access constantly (something like a hard drive would be better suited for that), they can be a cheap and effective method for cold storage. That’s data which is important, but is rarely accessed.

Blu-ray first hit the market to cater for the demand of high resolution video. Resolution means the number of vertical lines times the number of horizontal lines. DVDs usually had a resolution of 480, which was fine for older TVs. However, when newer TVs grew bigger and allowed for higher resolutions, the DVDs began to look blurry. While DVDs could store high definition data, the capacity limits of the disc meant it wasn’t worth it.

While DVDs are read with a red laser, Blu-ray discs use a blue laser. Blue light has a shorter wavelength, which means more data can be stored on the disc. This is how a Blu-ray has the same surface area as any other disc, but can store more data.

If you doubt the ability of Blu-ray as a backup solution, just take a look at Facebook. They usually store their data on hard drives or flash storage, but that isn’t cost effective for old data. As such, they developed a system to use robotic arms and storage racks that move Blu-rays between the areas to allow for reading and writing of data.

The reason this is so successful is in part due to the efficiency of the robot arm interface, but also because of how cheap Blu-ray discs are as a storage method, making it a viable solution to replicate at home or in the business.

You should choose between Blu-ray Disc Recordable (BD-R) or Blu-ray Disc Recordable Erasable (BD-RE) for your backup. The former is probably better because it means you can’t rewrite the data, which will prevent human error and malicious attacks. You’ll also need some software to perform the backups. There are many free tools available online to help.

Be wary, although Blu-ray discs are strong, they are prone to damage, especially from direct sunlight and scratches. Keep them in a cool dry place and handle them carefully and they’ll last you a long time. Buy Blu-ray discs made from inorganic dyes, known as HTL, if you want them to last longer – they’re less prone to damage, though are more expensive. Otherwise, opt for LTH discs.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect backup media, perhaps Blu-ray is the solution. Cheap, small and effective.


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