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Topic: LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy? (Read 80555 times) previous topic - next topic
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LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #25
If you have two disks, put one in an external enclosure (they're dirt cheap) and keep it unplugged.  If you're going to spend hours ripping and tagging, you can spend 30 seconds to plug in an external disk, and this will cut the number of disaster scenarios ten fold.  But with two disks plugged in, even something as simple as a bad driver, defective stick of memory, or overheating CPU can corrupt your entire RAID array, and theres no way to recover from it.  This is what I mean when I say its not a backup.
I absolutely agree. BTW my biggest fear is the house being strucked by lightning, destroying all plugged hard disks at once.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #26
Steve Albini has commented that the most durable audio archive format is, de facto, 1/2" analog tape. The format has essentially not changed over the last 50 years. And the fact that there is no de facto digital archive format is a good reason (for him) to produce in analog.

I would argue that the best digital archive format is some sort of high-reliability and well-maintained computer tape format, with at least 5GB of uncompressed storage per tape. They have far less moving parts than hard drives, they are usually designed for long term reliability (on the order of decades), and the formats are backwards compatible for several decades too. DLT is a good pick (it's been around for 20 years, used hardware is cheap, and it will probably be around in some form for another 20). You can pick up DLT drives for $100-200 nowadays and the tapes are $10 a pop. LTO is arguably just as futureproof but more expensive.

(Ironically, both of those tape formats are also 1/2")

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #27
One beautiful morning one of the RAID drives failed. Ok. IT follows the script and calls tech support and they promptly replaced the faulty drive. Now the sign of God: while restoring the data from the array using the parity data another drive of the same array also fails. Bye bye to all the data in the RAID array.

I would say that if we had no backups on tape a lot of people would loose their jobs. Besides having a hard time explaining to senior management why all the bucks put in the RAID solution did not keep the data secure.

So repeat after me: RAID IS A HIGH AVAILABILITY SOLUTION AND NOT A BACKUP SOLUTION. ALWAYS KEEP EXTERNAL BACKUPS IN WHICHEVER MEDIA YOU LIKE.


Yup.  I gave up having to remind people in the Infrant forums that the very act of rebuilding an array will increase the chance that a second drive fails substantially, and that backups are always necessary.

RAID (non-0) should be considered a solution for high-availability only, not for loss-protection.

(hence my *multiple* readynas units, heh)

My corporate story:  we had the datacenter folks tasked with adding several additional drives to empty slots in our array.  The hardware guys received the pre-railed drives from the mail room, went down to the array, opened the package, verified the slots to put them in and shoved a new drive in.

CRACK

And the server goes down.

Turns out the datacenter folks had ordered the wrong part # and the interface on the rear of the drive was the wrong physical interface.  The backplane cracked on that side, taking down one of the two servers sharing that array box, and destroying the integrity of the array on that side.  Luckily, the other half of the backplane wasn't damaged and remained up and running, since they had set up both the primary and failover servers on the same backplane (*argh*), so the app stayed up until an off hours time was used to replace the entire backplane.

-brendan

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #28
you just got lucky
you might not be that lucky next time....

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #29
Quote
' date='Aug 21 2006, 16:08' post='422978']
Redundant tape backups stored with IronMountain

Or just a simple Raid-5 setup.  Whichever.  The first will protect your music collection from nukes, though ;*)


You must be kidding....   
You know, it's just music!! It's not like critical NASA data or anything.


You're right---it's just music.  But that's not what we're really backing up... we're actually saving off the effort it took to rip that music.

Quote
I believe most people here exagerate on the audio backup issue.
For me, I backup to DVD and if I lose any DVD I just re-rip the original CDs. If I lose both (the CD and the backup DVD) I buy the CD again. Plain, simple and muuuuch cheaper.


How many CDs in your library?  Do you have 2000+ CDs?  How many folks would find it agreeable to "just re-rip it" ?

The actual music bytes are "cheap" yes... but the blood,sweat, tears, and hassle of rippping those bytes is very expensive.

And for the folks that send off their entire collection to a ripping servce.... after they get their digital files back and decide to back them up, what are they really backing up?  They're avoiding the hassle of reshipping their collection to the ripping service and paying hundreds$$ to redo it.

Redundant hard drive space is cheaper than labor.  Tape media is cheaper than labor.  And Iron Mountain also may be cheaper than labor.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #30
Yup.  I gave up having to remind people in the Infrant forums that the very act of rebuilding an array will increase the chance that a second drive fails substantially, and that backups are always necessary.

I don't get how the probabilistics of one drive failing affects the other drives. It is an independent event. There ar 5 times the posibility of 1 HD failing, but it is much less possible for 2 drives failing at the same time.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #31

Yup.  I gave up having to remind people in the Infrant forums that the very act of rebuilding an array will increase the chance that a second drive fails substantially, and that backups are always necessary.

I don't get how the probabilistics of one drive failing affects the other drives. It is an independent event. There ar 5 times the posibility of 1 HD failing, but it is much less possible for 2 drives failing at the same time.


The reason is that a rebuild involves forcing all of the drives in the array (typically four or more) to suddenly perform full-throughput I/O at maximum rate for several hours, increasing disk temperatures and also involves reading *every* disk block on the drives remaining in the array in order to build onto the replacement drive.  This is, by nature, a high-stress event.

My understanding is that contemporary drives will proactively reallocate a sector when it encounters a weak sector (too many bit errors, but recoverable) during a *read*.  Reading all blocks therefore can cause a potential spike in sector reallocation events, potentially causing the drive to run out of reallocatable target locations in a particular zone, which will then make the drive much more likely to throw an irrecoverable I/O error.

So, if any of the other drives were marginal, which will often be the case if all the original drives were purchased from the same source at the same time as the first drive was the proverbial canary in the mtfb-mine, this can lead to an array failure during the rebuild.

With some arrays, you can recover from that situation with some degree of success, but you really don't want to end up in that situation.

These days most new array hardware monitors the SMART (or SCSI equivalent) status of the drives and notifies the user when it believes enough pointers are indicating it would be best to replace a drive.  It's probably best to configure the arrays to alert you as early as possible, and relegate the pulled drives for non-critical uses.

-brendan

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #32
Steve Albini has commented that the most durable audio archive format is, de facto, 1/2" analog tape. The format has essentially not changed over the last 50 years. And the fact that there is no de facto digital archive format is a good reason (for him) to produce in analog.

This archive strategy didn't work too well for the large number of albums from the 70's whose mastertapes were on that particular brand of Ampex whose binding layer fell apart. I've read in the past (forget where; I think it may have been the Congressional Library) that the best long term archival medium for sound recordings is vinyl LPs.

While we're swapping horror stories about RAID arrays, here's mine. My day job includes supporting a system for a British national service (that's as much as I dare say). About 4 years ago it was noticed that the database, which was running on a RAID array and had never missed a beat for two years, was not being backed up as it should be. So the staff at the data centre installed the necessary backup software, and then rebooted the server. On reboot, the RAID controller developed a fault and started scribbling over ALL of the disks. We were lucky that an external data recovery service was able to retrieve about 90% of the data, but we had to augment the database with bits of paper for a few months afterwards.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #33
So the staff at the data centre installed the necessary backup software, and then rebooted the server. On reboot, the RAID controller developed a fault and started scribbling over ALL of the disks.

See! Backing up is a bad thing!

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #34
How about printing the binary data using archival quality ink onto acid free paper, and depositing the result with the national library for safe keeping?

(Before you start, count the number of pages you'd need!)

I tried this with black/white squares, rather than 0s and 1s, and it works (didn't quite get it into the British Library  )- but who is ever going to restore from such a backup?!

Cheers,
David.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #35
How about printing the binary data using archival quality ink onto acid free paper, and depositing the result with the national library for safe keeping?

(Before you start, count the number of pages you'd need!)

I tried this with black/white squares, rather than 0s and 1s, and it works (didn't quite get it into the British Library  )- but who is ever going to restore from such a backup?!



Whoever it is will probably need something like this:

http://www.geocities.com/compcloset/Softstrip_Reader.jpg



-brendan

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #36
Problem with keeping original CD's:
- They have no built-in error correction. Get a fungi growth on it (or the metallic layer fades away)... bye-bye
- Yes, there's that problem of re-ripping... and watching EAC attempts to read problem tracks for 15 minutes... then changing the CDs. Oh, solution: Robotic CD changer. Except that way the CD has more chance of getting scratched.

Problem with offline HD's:
- The electronics rot.
- Stiction (i.e. the head refuses to budge, even sticks completely. In the latter case, forcing it to move will destroy the head and/or platter surface). Of course you can every now and then plug the HD into a PC, do a quick dir/ls, and unplug it again.

Problem with CD-R/DVD-R:
- The media very rarely deliver the theoretical media time of 30 years.

Problem with analog:
- Too easy to introduce noise

Problem with vinyl
- Small capacity
- Erosion of surface
- That ripping overhead
- Noise
- Can you create a vinyl from your CD collection?

I think the most permanent way of backing up audio is by burning it into masked ROM chips... of course the production cost is astronomical but...



Heh, we're doomed

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #37
[lots of problems]

Heh, we're doomed


Well, the Tao of Backup said it: you have to check/maintain your backups... that's inevitable, whichever format you choose. I think hdd's have the great advantage that checking is fast and needs little user intervention.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #38
You're right---it's just music.  But that's not what we're really backing up... we're actually saving off the effort it took to rip that music.

Agreed, but what are the the odds of loosing all HDs that keep your 'effort', all external backups you made (DVD or whatever) and all the original CDs you ripped from? Could happen? Sure, but it is extremely unlikely if you did it right.
What happens more often, IMO, is loosing part of the 'effort' and that is perfectly restorable. Of course it will give you trouble and can be a PITA, but still it is recoverable.

Quote
How many CDs in your library?  Do you have 2000+ CDs?  How many folks would find it agreeable to "just re-rip it" ?
The actual music bytes are "cheap" yes... but the blood,sweat, tears, and hassle of rippping those bytes is very expensive.
And for the folks that send off their entire collection to a ripping servce.... after they get their digital files back and decide to back them up, what are they really backing up?  They're avoiding the hassle of reshipping their collection to the ripping service and paying hundreds$$ to redo it.
Redundant hard drive space is cheaper than labor.  Tape media is cheaper than labor.  And Iron Mountain also may be cheaper than labor.

The number of CDs in my collection is irrelevant to this discussion because it is unlikely you will loose both the backup and the original. That is the whole point of keeping a backup, you know. 
What are the odds of both your external backup AND original CDs become corrupt at the SAME time? I would say low.
But of course this is just my personal opinion and you can do whatever you like with your money...

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #39
Agreed, but what are the the odds of loosing all HDs that keep your 'effort', all external backups you made (DVD or whatever) and all the original CDs you ripped from? Could happen? Sure, but it is extremely unlikely if you did it right.
...
What are the odds of both your external backup AND original CDs become corrupt at the SAME time? I would say low.


Although losing the HD is quite unlikely, losing an original CD is -- depressingly -- very likely.

Why else do you think people use EAC or CDex to 'securely rip' their CD? And what the need for AccurateRip databases then?

It may take me quite some time to rip an original CD. After I've got a lossless copy, I couldn't care less with the original CD. Perhaps scan the label-side, then the CD can rot for all I care. Because I've already got an Accurately Ripped? lossless copy on the HD.

But I'm not blessed with a HD the size of Manhattan. And IMO it's stupid to keep all those lossless files, because sooner or later (mostly sooner) I'll have to transcode to lossy for playback. And lossy is also significantly smaller, what a nice surprise!

Of course, recalling the labor I went through trying to Accurately Rip? the original CD, I don't want to just delete the lossless files... so I must archive them safely (especially since the original CD has now probably rotted, as if I care the slightest bit).

And then there's the great big collection of songs salvaged from ye olde audio taypes. These too, must be archived for posterity. And some recordings are extremely not replaceable.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #40

You're right---it's just music.  But that's not what we're really backing up... we're actually saving off the effort it took to rip that music.

Agreed, but what are the the odds of loosing all HDs that keep your 'effort', all external backups you made (DVD or whatever) and all the original CDs you ripped from? Could happen? Sure, but it is extremely unlikely if you did it right.
What happens more often, IMO, is loosing part of the 'effort' and that is perfectly restorable. Of course it will give you trouble and can be a PITA, but still it is recoverable.


How are you using the term "losing"?  Are we thinking in terms of just "hardware failure probabilities" or considering all scenarios of loss including theft, lightning strike, fire, etc?  For example, I have my music stored on three 750gb harddrives.  If a burglar breaks into the house, he's not going to just steal 1 drive?!?!  And if a tornado or other natural disaster rips through the house, it's going to destory everything including the harddrives, the DVD backups of those drives, and the original CDs in the attic.

Quote
Quote

How many CDs in your library?  Do you have 2000+ CDs?  How many folks would find it agreeable to "just re-rip it" ?
The actual music bytes are "cheap" yes... but the blood,sweat, tears, and hassle of rippping those bytes is very expensive.
And for the folks that send off their entire collection to a ripping servce.... after they get their digital files back and decide to back them up, what are they really backing up?  They're avoiding the hassle of reshipping their collection to the ripping service and paying hundreds$$ to redo it.
Redundant hard drive space is cheaper than labor.  Tape media is cheaper than labor.  And Iron Mountain also may be cheaper than labor.

The number of CDs in my collection is irrelevant to this discussion because it is unlikely you will loose both the backup and the original.


I didn't mention CD count as a "my dingdong is bigger than your dingdong" type of statement.  What I'm trying to say is that if a person only has 50 CDs, there's no need to consider an elaborate backup strategy.  So there's a threshold between just reripping your entire collection vs using a sophisticated backup strategy (possibly including offsite storage).  Somewhere between 50 CDs and and 10000 CDs, there's a pain point that triggers all this type of thinking.  Asking how many CDs you had was relevant in helping me frame your response (either "oh he's only got 100 CDs, so it's no big deal to him" or something like "yikes he's got 5000 CDs and he still don't give a damn... he must know something I don't...")


Quote
That is the whole point of keeping a backup, you know. 
What are the odds of both your external backup AND original CDs become corrupt at the SAME time? I would say low.


There's that word... "corrupt"... which seems like you're primarily considering hardware failures, virus attacks deleting data, etc.  Others may be concerned with bigger mishaps outside the realm of computer glitches.  A stack of archive DVDs sitting next to the live harddrives that hold all your work may not be enough "backup protection" for some people.

And you also mention "external backup" and "orignal CD" as if they are equivalent.  They are not.  A lot of folks spend countless hours fixing up tags, downloading art, adjusting the folder structure, etc.  All this in addition to the initial "ripping" itself.  The original CD does not capture all the work around tags, metadata, and organization.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #41
Good thread, which I can totally relate to. Recently I lost around 2300 albums because of HDD failure, half of which will be difficult to recover. I started a storage thread before and I'm still not totally sure what my storage strategy will be...
You messed up, now I gotta mess you up. It's the law!

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #42
@ching-3:  ouch...

Well, it seems that there's no one single correct strategy currently. But the pearls I manage to gather:
* Use different media; just 1 don't cut it
* Store in different location; storing it all in one place means you'll lose them all with one fell swoop
* If you're paranoid about media quality, protect with QuickPAR2

Personally, for my use, I think I will, um, borrow my office's backup machineries (media provided by yours truly, of course), copy the tagged & PAR-protected lossless files into tapes (no need for full-blown backup thingy here) and store the tapes in a safe deposit box, update the tapes perhaps once a month, and do tape refreshes perhaps once per year. Oh, and also CD-R copies (no PAR protection) for near-line backup.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #43
pepoluan: if you're going for tape backup, you may be interested in a tool called dvbackup, which allows you to exploit a DV camera for that. This gets you 10GB of backup space per DV tape.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #44
Although losing the HD is quite unlikely, losing an original CD is -- depressingly -- very likely.

Sorry, but I'll have to disagree here. In my own experience a HDD is more likely to 'fail' than a CD. I have CDs that are 15 years old and work perfectly. I cannot say the same for my past HDs.

And then there's the great big collection of songs salvaged from ye olde audio taypes. These too, must be archived for posterity. And some recordings are extremely not replaceable.

You are taking the discussion to an extreme case. My previsous posts are related to CD 'backups' only. You cannot possibly cover all fail scenarios for all medias with the same backup strategy.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #45

Although losing the HD is quite unlikely, losing an original CD is -- depressingly -- very likely.

Sorry, but I'll have to disagree here. In my own experience a HDD is more likely to 'fail' than a CD. I have CDs that are 15 years old and work perfectly. I cannot say the same for my past HDs.
Good for you then.  It's the other way around in *my* experience

And then there's the great big collection of songs salvaged from ye olde audio taypes. These too, must be archived for posterity. And some recordings are extremely not replaceable.

You are taking the discussion to an extreme case. My previsous posts are related to CD 'backups' only. You cannot possibly cover all fail scenarios for all medias with the same backup strategy.
Well, no. My OP was about audio archiving, regardless of source. Some of my audio files are salvaged audio tape recordings. Some of the casettes are in very sorry condition, so I destroyed them as soon as I salvaged their content, so that the casettes will not suddenly decide to completely deteriorate while being played. So I no longer have the original media, just the lossless copies on HD.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #46
How are you using the term "losing"?  Are we thinking in terms of just "hardware failure probabilities" or considering all scenarios of loss including theft, lightning strike, fire, etc?  For example, I have my music stored on three 750gb harddrives.  If a burglar breaks into the house, he's not going to just steal 1 drive?!?!  And if a tornado or other natural disaster rips through the house, it's going to destory everything including the harddrives, the DVD backups of those drives, and the original CDs in the attic.

By losing I mean unable to recover the specific media/data. This may be caused by any type of failure/disaster.
By 'doing it right' in my previous reply I meant keeping external backups (as in a different geographical location). I believe that would cover most scenarios like theft, natural disaster, fire and hardware failure. Of course, as I already pointed out there is no backup strategy that covers all possible scenarios.

I didn't mention CD count as a "my dingdong is bigger than your dingdong" type of statement.  What I'm trying to say is that if a person only has 50 CDs, there's no need to consider an elaborate backup strategy.  So there's a threshold between just reripping your entire collection vs using a sophisticated backup strategy (possibly including offsite storage).  Somewhere between 50 CDs and and 10000 CDs, there's a pain point that triggers all this type of thinking.  Asking how many CDs you had was relevant in helping me frame your response (either "oh he's only got 100 CDs, so it's no big deal to him" or something like "yikes he's got 5000 CDs and he still don't give a damn... he must know something I don't...")

I got you, but I don't think that, if you choose the right backup strategy, for most scenarios you need to re-rip your entire collection. That's why I think the number of CDs is irrelevant to the point of the discussion.
I'll elaborate with a practical case: You have all your CDs in your house and you wisely keep a ripped lossless copy in your PC and an external DVD (or whatever other media) backup of this lossless copy. The most likely event is that either your PC HD gets unreadable, some of your CDs get unreadable (assuming you store them properly) or some of your backup DVDs (or other media) becomes unreadable. All three becoming unreadable at the same time is unlikely. That's the whole point. I am not saying it cannot happen, but the odds are low.
If your PC HD becomes unreadable you restore your backup from the external media. If your backup is unreadable you make a new one from the data in the PC. If both get unreadable at the same time (already extremely unlikely) you re-rip, re-tag, re-whatever the affected CDs. If everything gets unreadable at the same time then there is nothing you can do...
Of course that if you keep your backup in an external several gigabytes HD and this becomes unreadable at the same time that your PC HD becomes unreadable you are doomed to rework a lot of CDs. I don't have to say that this scenario is expected to happen almost never. And even if it does happen you may consider a better backup strategy by scattering the data in different media (like using several DVDs) instead of keeping all your eggs in the same bucket. This is a strategic decision though.

There's that word... "corrupt"... which seems like you're primarily considering hardware failures, virus attacks deleting data, etc.  Others may be concerned with bigger mishaps outside the realm of computer glitches.  A stack of archive DVDs sitting next to the live harddrives that hold all your work may not be enough "backup protection" for some people.

It sure isn't. I never implied that you should keep your backups in the same physical location of the originals though. That's bad backup strategy.

And you also mention "external backup" and "orignal CD" as if they are equivalent.  They are not.  A lot of folks spend countless hours fixing up tags, downloading art, adjusting the folder structure, etc.  All this in addition to the initial "ripping" itself.  The original CD does not capture all the work around tags, metadata, and organization.

No no no. They are not the same. but you can get to the 'external backup' from the 'CD' and vice-versa (sort of) in case you need it. It will take time and effort, that's true.
I believe that if you choose the right backup strategy the time and effort to spend going from one to another can be easily mitigated. 


So I no longer have the original media, just the lossless copies on HD.

If that's the case you should back them up quickly!!

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #47

There's that word... "corrupt"... which seems like you're primarily considering hardware failures, virus attacks deleting data, etc.  Others may be concerned with bigger mishaps outside the realm of computer glitches.  A stack of archive DVDs sitting next to the live harddrives that hold all your work may not be enough "backup protection" for some people.

It sure isn't. I never implied that you should keep your backups in the same physical location of the originals though. That's bad backup strategy.


Actually, you sorta did imply that.  It looked like you were poking fun at someone using "Iron Mountain" for offsite storage.

To review, this is how you responded:

Quote
' date='Aug 21 2006, 16:08' post='422978']
Redundant tape backups stored with IronMountain

Or just a simple Raid-5 setup.  Whichever.  The first will protect your music collection from nukes, though ;*)


You must be kidding....   
You know, it's just music!! It's not like critical NASA data or anything.
I believe most people here exagerate on the audio backup issue.
For me, I backup to DVD and if I lose any DVD I just re-rip the original CDs. If I lose both (the CD and the backup DVD) I buy the CD again. Plain, simple and muuuuch cheaper.


Sure Iron Mountain is not cheap but I can only guess that the person who mentioned it was probably piggybacking on existing monthly contract for critical business finance data.  If he’s sending 25 tapes a month to Iron Mountain of QuickBooks and customer invoices, sending a 26th tape full of FLAC files isn’t a big deal.

It’s like criticizing NASA for building a $10 billion dollar shuttle to send up an ant farm.  But the real story is that the shuttle can deploy satellites, telescopes, and build a space station.  And later some scientists think it would be a cool bonus to also study ants in space.  The ants add less than 5 pounds to the payload.  It’s no big deal.

Don’t criticize ant farms… feelings get hurt.

Anyways, with all your subsequent explanation, it seems like you go through the same level of backup redundancy that many others do… no more no less.  So not sure if there’s any exaggeration of audio backup being done.

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #48
Actually, I mentionned Iron Mountain, but don't use it myself -- I was just mentionning the backup procedure the company I currently work for uses.  I, myself, don't back up.  I do my own data recovery in case of errors, and have all my critical documents somewhere on the internets. ^^

LONG-TERM audio archiving strategy?

Reply #49
Quote
' date='Aug 24 2006, 13:10' post='424081']
Actually, I mentionned Iron Mountain, but don't use it myself -- I was just mentionning the backup procedure the company I currently work for uses.  I, myself, don't back up.  I do my own data recovery in case of errors, and have all my critical documents somewhere on the internets. ^^


And to Beto's point, contracting with Iron Mountain solely for backups of a personal CD collection may be a tad overkill.

I keep tapes of my backups in a paid safe deposit box about 30 miles from my home.  Not as expensive as Iron Mountain, but not as cheap as just leaving a copy at a friend's house.  But I also have other critical data in the safe deposit box (15 years worth of document scans, travel photos, etc).  The cost of also keeping audio backups there gets lumped into all that so it's an incremental/negligible cost.

The Iron Mountain sales guys still call me once a month about opening up an account.  If I eventually switch from the safe deposit box to Iron Mountain, I'd definitly add in my CD backups... why not?