With today's proliferation of computers and electronic devices, most people in modern society have their own collections of data. These collections usually contain photos, documents, videos and many other types of computer data files. Backing up these files is essential for any kind of long-term preservation and with the cost of disk space coming down everyday, external hard drives are a good choice for archiving. However, they shouldn't be the only method used. It's always a good idea to have at least two backups of any given file, and while hard drives are generally safe, optical media is still the best long-term solution. The problem with optical media is the amount of storage space it provides. Over the years, files have grown larger and with a 700MB limit, CDs are pretty much a thing of the past. At 4.7GB to 8.5GB (yes, there are some larger formats, but they are rare), DVDs are still a viable solution for some files, but with the advent of reliable Blu-ray storage, even DVDs will soon be on the way out.
Because of the blue laser used in Blu-ray drives (in contrast to the red laser for DVDs), the shorter laser wavelength allows greater data storage density. As such, single-layer Blu-ray discs can hold up to 25GB, dual-layer discs can hold 50GB, and the recent BDXL format discs can hold anywhere from 100GB to 128GB of data. While this is still nowhere near the multi-TB storage capability of today's hard drives, it's definitely much better than DVD or CD. Of course, just like with other media, there are many different Blu-ray brands on the market. In addition, the quality and price of these brands can vary.
Aleratec BD-R 6x Duplicator Grade 10-Pack
I have a few favorite brands that I like to use, one of which is Aleratec. As with all brands, the burning speed of media usually increases over time as both burners and discs become better and better. Because of the amount of data involved, burning Blu-ray discs can be excruciatingly slow. So when Aleratec released their 6x media, I definitely had to check it out.
Aleratec currently has two different 6x Blu-ray media products available: the BD-R 6x Duplicator Grade 25-Pack (White Inkjet Printable) and the BD-R 6x Duplicator Grade 10-Pack (Silver). Both products provide single-layer media with up to 25GB of data storage per disc. If I get a chance to test the 25-Pack (Inkjet), I'll do another write-up for it. In the meantime, for this review, I tested the 10-Pack (Silver). With 25GB per disc and 10 discs, this package provides up to 250GB of storage, which rivals some of the small, external hard drives available now. The discs are contained in the usual plastic spindle case that easily twists open. At the top of the spindle is a paper insert providing the media specifications. Under that, Aleratec includes a small foam cushion to prevent the discs from moving. Under the cushion, is a plastic, disc insert, which is the same size as the Blu-ray media to provide another layer of protection for the top-most disc in the spindle.
Aleratec BD-R 6x Specifications
Each disc in the 10-Pack provides a standard silver face. This means that they can be labeled either with a stick-on label or by writing on them with CD marker or Sharpie. Of course, the 25-Pack provides inkjet media, but at this time no LightScribe Blu-ray media is available. In addition, each disc provides a special hard coating to make them scratch resistant. However, this doesn’t mean scratch-proof, so it's still advisable to handle discs with care and use proper storage methods if you want them to last as long as possible.
Each disc is also dubbed as "duplicator grade" media. What exactly does this mean? Well, according to Aleratec… "Mostly this refers to reduced failure rate and higher performance from the write strategy in the media combined with the controller firmware in the duplicator and drive firmware all optimized to work together for maximum results." What they're saying is that the discs are optimized to work best with Aleratec burners. The Aleratec website even goes as far as saying that this 6x media can actually reach 10x write speed when used with Aleratec hardware, although I haven't been able to test that situation. Even so, during my own usage of the discs, I didn't have one "coaster" in the package and all the discs were appropriately identified as 6x media.
High-Quality Blu-ray Media
Sony (the company that introduced Blu-ray media to the market) says that Blu-ray media should last anywhere from 30 to 50 years, but of course, only time will tell. I've only had this particular Aleratec media for about a month, so I don't actually know how long it will last. But in the short time I've had it, all the discs still read perfectly. In addition, I do have prior experience with Aleratec DVD media and some of those discs have been in use for a couple of years now without any problems. Add to that the fact that Blu-ray media is supposed to be even more robust than DVD and I feel secure in saying that my archived data will be safe for quite some time. If I have any problems later on down the line, I'll be sure to let you know, but in the meantime, I can definitely recommend the Aleratec BD-R 6x media for your Blu-ray burning needs. For more information about Aleratec products, visit aleratec.com.
Additional information: Aleratec BD-R 6x Duplicator Grade 10-Pack and 25-Pack