Blu-ray may find favour as archive medium

Panasonic says ailing format may be best for long-term data storage

Blu ray disks

Sales of Blu-ray disks and hardware may not be quite as perky as manufacturers had hoped, but at least one firm is reminding us that the technology is good for more than just high-def copies of bad action movies.

Panasonic's Hiroyuki Hasegawa, an audio-visual manager at the company, took the occasion of a meeting of the Japan Recording-Media Industries Association to explain what BDs are good for.

Tough and long-lived

He suggested that the blue-laser technology is the ideal medium for archiving material for posterity, pointing out that the disks are far more durable than currently favoured magnetic media.

Whether the data to be stored is hospital medical records, TV broadcasts or audio recordings, Hasegawa said Blu-ray was superior to magnetic tapes and hard drives "in terms of non-contact recording and playback, removability, random accessibility and long product life."

Environmental appeal

Factoring in the cost against the amount of space take up by the disks enhances the appeal of BDs even further, he added, while making them creates less carbon dioxide than other media.

Although Blu-ray and other optical disks are slower to access than hard drives, Hasegawa said that 80 per cent of data commonly archived now doesn't require ultra-rapid access, so that wouldn't be a deal-breaker.

DVDs going strong

Finally, the Panasonic chief analysed the relatively sluggish demand for Blu-ray. He predicted sales of the disks would rise from 60 million units this year to 250 million in 2011.

Still, that compares with 13 billion blank CDs and DVDs sold last year, so it's clear Blu-ray has a long way to go to catch up and that it's going to need a huge marketing drive to get companies and individuals seeing it as a long-term storage medium as well.