The Holy Grail Of Media Management

In my life I have generated and hoarded a lot of media.

Audio recordings, photographs, written documents, presentations, software, video, film…  It’s a little overwhelming.

I find it overwhelming in part because I’m a bit of a pack rat.  I never want to throw away anything that I might want later.  The longer I live the more cluttered my hard drives and shelves get.  There are literally hundreds of gigabytes of files and hundreds of physical items.

For the better part of the last decade I have struggled, unsuccessfully, to find a system for cataloging, organizing, and (most importantly) ARCHIVING all of this media so it stops cluttering up my life but doesn’t disappear from it.  I have tried many systems but they all break down relatively quickly.  Either they become too organizationally complex or the media itself becomes unreliable or I simply lose track of what has already been archived versus what has yet to be gone through.  This actually stresses me out.

Yeah.  I’m not normal.

“The Cloud” won’t work for me.  Too much stuff to deal with and paying for ongoing storage is not something I want to do.  What I want is a system that is:

  • Simple
  • Permanent
  • Affordable
  • Easy to retrieve media from

It would help if it also assists me by letting me find duplicates, tag content with metadata, and all that stuff so when I want to find that scanned baby picture from 1995 I can find it.

I think I may have finally found that final solution, the system I can rely on until I die, and here’s what it is.

There is a new type of recordable disc called an M-Disc (http://www.mdisc.com/) that has a DoD-tested shelf-life of approximately 1000 years and these discs are available in DVD and Blu-Ray formats ranging from 4.7GB to 100GB of storage.  They require a special drive to record them, but once burned can be read by any normal DVD or Blu-Ray drive.  They literally etch the data into carbon.  So, I’ve gone ahead and ordered myself an M-Disc Blu-Ray burner that can do BDXL (up to 128GB per disc).  Unlike flash drives, hard drives, CD-R, DVD-R, tape backups, or any other form of media I’ve ever used, these discs should be readable for the rest of my life, and the life of my child and any succeeding grandchildren I may one day have.  I can burn the data and never think about it again.  Ridiculous, right?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I really value a lot of music and photography taken by people I’ve known and loved who are no longer alive.  I’m glad it still exists.  I will mentally rest easy when I know that all the media that really matters to me is permanently preserved.

Except…  except I still need to be able to find it and indexing and sorting hundreds of thousands of pieces of media is hard.

I’m not the only person to ever have this problem.  There is a class of applications out there called disc catalogers.  They index the contents of removable drives so that you can search the contents, find what you want, pop the disc in, and get the file.  I’ve used a few.  They all start to choke when they get to catalogs of any serious size.  I had given up hope but then I did some searching and found this article.  Apparently there is a Holy Grail on this front and it’s called NeoFinder.

Next week I hope to reach a point where I’ve finally got a permanent system and I can start offloading the massive quantities of media choking all my drives and cluttering up my life.  I’m going to archive it, catalog it, and delete it if I don’t really need it handy.

I’m basically drooling right now, I’m so excited.  Have I finally found The Grail?  Is the combination of 1000-year 100GB optical storage and The Ultimate Cataloging Application finally going to solve this problem for me?

I feel like it will.  I’ll report my results when I have them.