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(Find a PDF of These Tips Here)

SAFE HANDLING AND WRITE PROTECTION FOR (BORN DIGITAL) PHYSICAL MATERIALS

1. ALL Removable Media

- Store Upright (to prevent any weight being placed on disks, etc.; and to avoid floppies being laid on top of magnetic appliances).

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2. Floppies (3.5", 5.25", 8")

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- To make sure write-protection is "on":

                   * 3.5" Floppy: slide Slide write-protect tab toward the side opposite insertion

         (usually "up")            . You will be able to see through the hole.

       * 5.25" Floppy: add tape or a label to cover the write-protection notch on the side of the vinyl case

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3. CD's and DVD's

- Avoid fingerprints or smudges by touching only the center or edges of the disc.

- Do not write on discs with any solvent-based markers, ball-point pens, pencil, etc.

- Do not attach labels directly to discs because this could damage the disk, or cause an imbalance that could damage the player or drive. Instead, label the jewel case.

- Avoid scratches on EITHER side of the disc. For CD's the data is located just below the laquer layer, so the label side may be more vulnerable than the plastic side. DVD's are less vulnerable, since the data is located in the center layer of the disc.

- Magnets are not a concern for optical media.

- CD's that have absorbed a large quantity of moisture can become unreadable, but may work properly once they dry out.

- Avoid prolonged heat exposure, such as leaving discs in direct sunlight, or placing them on or near a hot CPU.

- Prolonged exposure to sunlight, or other sources of UV light, will cause the dye (recordable) layer in R discs to break down significantly. Keep all discs out of the sun and away from UV light.

 

Write Protection:

- CD-R's and DVD-R's are automatically write-protected once they have been "burned." CD-RW and DVD-RW are write-protected only once the "session" has been closed. For born-digital materials, one hopes that this has been done, but proceed with caution, anyway.

- It is possible to write-protect optical media by using a read-only optical drive (CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive), but in order to access any RW media with an open session, you need a device that can write as well.

- For the moment, USB write-blockers do not seem to work with external optical drives.

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4. USB Flash Drives (also "solid state" USB or Firewire hard drives)

*Static electricity CAN damage flash drives! Before inserting a USB flash drive, be sure to discharge any electrostatic charge you may be caryying by touching something metal. Be especially careful during dry conditions.

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- Most USB flash drives do not have a write-protection tab, though some do.

- Use a USB write-blocker device with any USB device

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5. Memory Cards (SD, Micro SD, Memory Stick Duo, etc.)

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5. CD's and DVD's

- Avoid fingerprints or smudges by touching only the center or edges of the disc.

- Do not write on discs with any solvent-based markers, ball-point pens, pencil, etc.

- Do not attach labels directly to discs because this could damage the disk, or cause an imbalance that could damage the player or drive. Instead, label the jewel case.

- Avoid scratches on EITHER side of the disc. For CD's the data is located just below the laquer layer, so the label side may be more vulnerable than the plastic side. DVD's are less vulnerable, since the data is located in the center layer of the disc.

- Magnets are not a concern for optical media.

- CD's that have absorbed a large quantity of moisture can become unreadable, but may work properly once they dry out.

- Avoid prolonged heat exposure, such as leaving discs in direct sunlight, or placing them on or near a hot CPU.

- Prolonged exposure to sunlight, or other sources of UV light, will cause the dye (recordable) layer in R discs to break down significantly. Keep all discs out of the sun and away from UV light.

 

Write Protection:

- CD-R's and DVD-R's are automatically write-protected once they have been "burned." CD-RW and DVD-RW are write-protected only once the "session" has been closed. For born-digital materials, one hopes that this has been done, but proceed with caution, anyway.

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6. Hard Drives (for Solid State Drives, SSD, see Care for Flash Media, above)

- Hard Drives are classified by type and size. The type is an indication of what connector cable is needed. Common sizes are: 2.5" (laptops) and 3.5" (desktops).

- Types: IDE/PATA/ATA/EIDE, SATA, SCSI, FibreChannel. IDE/PATA was used 1986-2003. SATA was used 2003-today. If you are working with other types, an adapter can be purchased for under $10.

- Common sizes are: 2.5" (laptops) and 3.5" (desktops).

- Avoid shocking the drive: Don't bump it while it is spinning. Don't drop it. Don't unplug it while it is spinning.

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- Removal is usually straightforward: unplug the drive, press necessary tabs, and pull it out. However, be careful not to damage other computer components with ESD, and don't get scratched by internal parts.

- When transporting or storing hard drives, safeguard against shock from ESD or dropping by keeping drives in special anti-static hard cases.

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- Don't put labels on the "breathing" holes.

 

Write Protection:

- For internal hard drives, use a write-blocking device that is designed for hard drives. These will accommodate SATA and IDE/PATA. For other types, you may purchase an adapter for about $10.

- For external hard drives, use a write-blocking device according to whatever connection you have (USB/Firewire/Etc.).

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7. Audio and VHS Tapes

- Avoid magnetic fields. Keep tapes away from speakers, magnets, or any devices that produce an electromagnetic or magnetic field.

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- Avoid excessive heat, moisture, pressure, etc.

- Magnetic tape works better under relatively dryer conditions.

- Baking: Some professional data recovery organizations will gradually dehydrate magnetic tape that has absorbed too much moisture in a controlled environment over the course of several hours. Do not attempt this with a regular oven or without undertaking serious research to determine how to dry the tape without damaging it.

 

Write Protection:

- These tapes have write-protection tabs, as part of the plastic case, which must be broken off to prevent accidental recording.

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LINKS, GUIDES, REFERENCE

 

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- Here is an extensive guide for all kinds of CD's and DVD's (ROM, R, RW, etc.).