How to Backup Data on Blu-ray Discs (and Why You Should)

William Elcock

Your data is precious and you should take care to protect it. This can be done in various ways. In addition to using an effective antivirus, making regular backups is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that you don't lose data.

Bluray Backup Main

When it comes to executing backups, it's usual to think of backing up to an external hard drive or maybe even to the cloud.

However, optical discs shouldn't be ruled out either. Although Blu-ray discs don't seem to have much of a future when it comes to digital videos, largely due to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, they are definitely suitable for backup purposes.

A regular Blu-ray disc can hold 25GB, and these discs are quite sturdy. While they may not be as suitable as hard drives for data which you access frequently, they are ideal for storing the most precious of memories.

Things like older family photos and important completed project documents are examples of the type of data which you absolutely don't want to lose but that you might not access regularly and are hence better suited for storage on a Blu-ray disc.

Blu-ray disc Overview

Blu Ray Set

Blu-ray discs were introduced in order to facilitate the storage and playback of high definition video. Blu-ray discs are read with a blue laser. This is in contrast to CDs and DVDs which are read with a red laser.

Blue Laser Diode
Blue Laser Diode | Andrew "FastLizard4" Adams on Flickr

Since the wavelength of blue light is shorter than that of red light, more data can be packed on to a Blu-ray disc since the blue light can be used to 'resolve' smaller areas of data on the disc.

What this means is that the physical areas where data is recorded on the surface of a Blu-ray disc are comparatively smaller than CDs and DVDs. This means that more data can be recorded using the same surface area with a Blu-ray disc than with the other optical disc formats. As a result a standard Blu-ray can store 25 GB.

There are Blu-ray discs capable of holding up to 100 GB of data, with larger capacity versions planned.

How to Backup Data On Blu-ray

As I mentioned before, the use of Blu-ray discs is an excellent option for backing up data that isn't regularly accessed. However, don't just take my word for it. Let's take a look at how Facebook uses Blu-ray discs to backup old data instead of ancient digital tape.

How Facebook is Taking Data Storage to Higher Heights

Facebook Blu Ray Disk Storage Rack
Inside a Facebook Blu-ray disk storage rack | Arstechnica

Facebook's data is usually stored on hard drives or flash storage. It isn't cost effective to keep older data on hard drives or flash storage however, so Facebook developed a storage system which makes use of Blu-ray discs.

Facebook's system uses a combination of robotic arms and tons of Blu-ray discs stored in racks. The arms move the discs between the racks and central drives to allow for the reading and writing of data.

The inexpensiveness of Blu-rays and the efficiency of the robotic arm system makes this a promising and effective data storage solution for older data and data which isn't accessed regularly.

How to Make Your Own Blu-ray Backups

In order to make your own Blu-ray backups you will need a few things. For starters, you will need a Blu-ray drive with writing capabilities.

Blu Ray Burner Amazon
Pioneer Blu-ray Burner 

Blu-ray Disc Recordable (BD-R) as opposed to Blu-ray disc Recordable Erasable (BD-RE) discs are recommended. This nullifies the possibility of overwriting your precious data and also protects against viruses.

You will also need software that allows you to burn your files to a Blu-ray disc. Burnaware free is a useful free software for doing this and allows for the easy creation of a data Blu-ray disc. Simply select the files you need and burn them to the Blu-ray.

Burnaware Data Disk Burn

Blu-ray discs are quite sturdy but they aren't invincible. They are susceptible to direct sunlight, excessive heat and scratches. For this reason they should be stored in a cool dry place in a suitable storage wallet away from direct sunlight. 

They will require some care but if they are treated well they can last for several decades.

Wallet Case Walmart1
Wallet case

The recording surface of readily available Blu-ray discs are made up of either an organic or inorganic dye. Blu-ray discs made form organic dyes are known as LTH (Low to High).

Verbatim Lth Disk 2
Verbatim LTH Disk | Verbatim


Blu-ray discs made from inorganic dyes are known as HTL (High to Low).

LTH means that when the disc is burned, the recording surface is changed from low reflectivity while HTL refers to the recording surface being changed from high reflectivity to low reflectivity.

HTL discs are expected to last longer than LTH discs and are less susceptible to damaged than but they are generally more expensive.

Verbatim Htl Disk 2
Verbatim HTL Disk | Disco Bianco

Why You Should Start Backing Up to Blu-ray Discs

When you consider the low cost of Blu-ray discs and the ease with which they can be burned as long as you have the right tools, it is worth your while to take the initiative to backing up your precious data via this format.

For the purpose of backing up your data it would be better to use HTL discs, since these have a longer lifespan than LTH discs. You want to ensure that your data is still intact when you go to retrieve it after all.

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William Elcock

Written By

William Elcock

William has been helping friends troubleshoot tech problems for several years and thus made the natural progression into tech blogging. In addition to consumer electronics William also has a vested interest in various renewable energy topics.