As a slideshow creator, your primary focus is creating the best-looking final product for clients, family, or friends. An equally important job is preserving those slideshows so that you can view, edit, or make copies of these shows at any point in the future. You can opt for a redundant storage solution that creates automatic backups, or you can invest in cloud storage which provides an extra level of protection by virtue of being offsite. But neither solution takes into account the fact that your hard drives are continually filling up with important data that you aren’t actively using. In fact, the slideshows you’ve created may be taking up many gigabytes of space. For this reason, you should consider archiving your shows and moving them off your hard drive. In this article, I’ll outline my recommended methods for archiving your shows and creating worry-free backups.
Create a Master Disc
The first thing you’ll want to do is to create a ‘master’ disc (i.e. your reference copy) of your slideshow in either DVD or Blu-ray format. This not only ensures that you can quickly play the show at any time, but it also allows you to do a direct disc copy in the event that you need to burn another one in the future. For best results, check out my tips on DVD burning from a previous article.
Collect Show Files
When you save a show in ProShow, what’s actually being saved is a relatively small file that has links to your images, videos, and audio used in your show. ProShow does not create a copy of your content in the save location, nor does store the content within the saved show file. This means that if you happen to rename a folder or swap out a hard drive that includes your content, you run the risk of ProShow reporting missing files when you try to open your saved show.
Fortunately ProShow has a built-in tool called Collect Show Files which takes all of the files necessary to open a show – the saved show file along with your images, video, and audio – and makes a copy in a centralized location. The resultant folder is exactly what you need to make a backup of your show in the event that you need to open it in ProShow to make edits or re-render it to a different format.
Archive Your Collected Show to a Disc
Even if you plan to move this collected folder to an external drive, it’s important to burn it to a disc as well. You can either do this with 3rd-party burning software or with the “Burn to DVD” option in the Collect Show Files window. As always, make sure you select a lower burn speed (4x or lower) to ensure your disc is properly written.
Storing Your DVDs
DVDs can be scratched due to improper storage, and UV light can cause the dye in the data layer to fade, so you’ll want to store your discs in something that is susceptible to neither of these factors. If you’ve followed my steps above, you’ll most likely end up with two discs – your master disc and your collected show disc. A great storage solution would be a double-DVD storage case. You can go the extra mile and create your own inserts, or you can simply label the spine for easy identification on a bookshelf.
Consider using archival grade media
The organic dyes used in most consumer-grade blank DVDs can and will break down over time. Depending on the quality of the media used, this can mean that your discs are unreadable after just a few years. In a recent article, I gave suggestions on which media to use for burning your slideshows. These suggestions are still valid, but you may find more security in using discs which are rated for a longer storage life.
Verbatim’s UltraLife series of discs are archival grade discs, using a corrosion-resistant gold layer, a high quality “AZO” dye in the recording layer, and a hard coating to protect against scratches. Rated to last 100 years when stored properly, these may be worth spending the extra money.
M-Discs are a new breed of archival disc which skip the organic dye altogether, and instead have a recording layer that is more or less engraved by the burner. You’ll need an M-Disc Ready burner, but once burned these discs are playable in a standard DVD player or DVD drive. The discs themselves are fairly expensive, but again, may be worth your money.
Freeing up space on your hard drive
After you’ve archived your show, you can delete your local copy from your hard drive if you need to free up space. There are probably going to be a few files left on your system which you can clean up:
- PSDATA folders – These folders are generated in the process of creating a DVD or Blu-ray disc, and store the bulk of the rendered video data. They are located in the same location as your saved show, though you can usually find them quickly by doing a Windows search for ‘psdata’. Deleting these folders can clear up many gigabytes of data.
- PXC files – These files are used as a “cache” for your saved shows so that ProShow can quickly load them without having to reimport your images, video, and audio. They are located in the same folder as your saved show and have a file extension of .pxc. If you’re no longer working with a show, deleting these files is a safe and easy way to clear up some space.
- BAK/B01/B02/etc files – These backup files are created when you save changes to a show, and are useful in the event that you need to revert to an earlier save state. Like the PXC files, they will be in the same location as your saved show, and the extensions will be : .bak, .b01, .b02, .b03, etc. These usually don’t take up a lot of space, but you can at least get rid of some clutter if you’re no longer working on the show.
- PSH files – These are your saved show files. If you’ve already archived your shows to another disc or drive and want to delete these, you may do so. With that being said, they are usually fairly small (<5MB) and might be worth keeping around so that you don’t have to resort to your archived discs to make a few quick edits.
- To provide an extra level of protection against data loss, you may want to burn an extra copy of both your Master and Collected discs and store them in a separate physical location.
- Never use rewritable discs ( DVD-RW or BD-RE ) for archiving data, as they are prone to data loss over a shorter period of time than write-once media.
- Archive any related data to the same disc as the collected show – for example, DVD case insert art, disc art, client info, etc. Note that you’ll need to use a 3rd party burning program to put your collected show folder and related materials on the same disc.
- If you need to work on a show that’s stored on your collected disc, you’ll want to *copy* all the contents to your local drive first, since the disc will prevent you from making any further saves.