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Industry Group Provides Tips to Save Photos in Wake of California Wildfires



CUPERTINO, Calif., Oct. 26, 2007 — If a disaster is on your doorstep, what will you do? Whether it is an impending fire, hurricane, tornado, or response to an earthquake, the most immediate reaction is to grab your kids, pets and the family photo album and leave the area of danger.

However, today’s precious family memories are not necessarily stored as prints in a bulky album or a box, but are often on a computer hard drive, or, even better, on more portable CDs or DVDs. People just may not take the time to disconnect the computer and tote it out of the house when getting safely out of harms way may only give them minutes to escape.

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) has been pondering just such a scenario. OSTA wants to encourage people contemplating their own disaster preparedness plans to make sure that archiving their photos and data to easily portable CD or DVD discs is near the top of their preparation list. Of the thousands of people caught in the turmoil of the recent California firestorms, how many of them left behind family memories in the form of digital photos stored in their computer? And an even bigger question – how many of those pictures will be retrievable? For those fire victims who did have photos on CDs or DVDs, but were unable to take them with them, if they are fortunate enough to find discs that are intact, don’t toss them out just because they may be covered with ash or dirty – saving those images may be as simple as a little mild detergent and water and drying with a soft cloth, provided the discs are not warped or broken.

“Backing up to CDs and DVDs is probably the simplest and most effective insurance for protecting data, photos, and videos,” said David Bunzel, OSTA president. “While many kinds of data can be reconstructed from other sources, precious memories captured as digital photos are especially important to back up.

Today, recordable CD and DVD media are very affordable and easy-to-use backup software programs are readily available to make this a relatively simple task for many computer users. Best practices for safeguarding very important data or images would also include making duplicate sets of CDs or DVDs and storing them in a separate location.”

Market research from IDC forecasts that more than 200 billion digital images will be taken in 2007, and additional research from the Photo Marketing Association indicates that nearly two thirds of those images will not be printed but will be stored in digital format. For images stored on CDs and DVDs, and not on the computer’s hard drive, recovery may be easier than you think.

OSTA has some tips on how to clean and recover data and images from those CDs and DVDs, provided by member companies that manufacturer optical drives or media.

Tips for Cleaning Dirty or Damaged CDs or DVDs

1. Handle discs carefully by the edges only.

2. Inspect the surface of the disc for damage or contamination, to see if it needs to be cleaned. Canned compressed air is excellent for removing dust.

3. If needed, rinse carefully in clean, warm water to remove any grit that could cause scratches when the disc is wiped.

4. If any debris or film remains that needs to be removed, clean gently with warm water and a mild detergent (e.g., dish-washing detergent), eyeglass cleaning solution, isopropyl alcohol or a commercially available CD/DVD cleaning solution.

5. Gently wipe dry with a lint-free, soft cotton cloth. Use a wiping motion moving from the center of the disc to the outside edge instead of wiping around the disc. If wiping does cause any scratch, an “inside to outside” scratch will cut across the data tracks around the disc instead of running along them and damaging additional data.

6. If any residue or film remains, wipe with alcohol and a soft cleaning wipe.

7. Remember to clean the case, too.

8. If a disc is still damp, store upright (on edge) to allow to air dry.

9. Insert thoroughly dry disc in appropriate disc drive to attempt to read data. If the disc isn’t readable, try a different disc drive. Different drives have different optical qualities with varying thresholds of error correction ability.

10. Data on the majority of discs is likely to be readable after following these steps. For those discs that still cannot be read, additional information on disc handling and data recovery is available on OSTA’s website in the data handling, storage and disposal sections of two white papers on recordable CDs and DVDs.

For the applicable section in “Understanding CD-R and CD-RW” go to www.osta.org/technology/cdqa12.ht. and for “Understanding Recordable and Rewritable DVD” the related section is located at www.osta.org/technology/dvdqa/dvdqa10.htm.

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