Ripping 700 CD's to HD using FLAC-How much space?

Hello all,

Currently, I am in the process of transferring my cd's to an external hard drive using FLAC lossless, EAC for transfer and WinAmp for a media player. I would like a HD with enough space for future downloads but am unsure as to what size to purchase? Memory seems reasonably priced these days and 1TB external HD's are plentiful. Also, I may let go of cd's that I no longer listen to after I have them on the HD which leaves me with another dilemma - how many HD's would suffice for backups? Everyone's advice is appreciated. Thanks, Chris

Currently using:
Windows XP Home
Dell XPS 400
Room for 2 internal HD's (using only (1) currently)
700 CDs will take up less than 300Gb. That's about what I've got.
I'm using two 500Gb external HDs right now -- one for the music, one for backup purposes. As you said, drives are cheap these days, so I may purchase another one as well.
I'm considering a NAS as well, but that may be overkill for my needs.
I recommend setting up a RAID mirror if you're going to rip 700 CDs. You might feel like it will never happen, but every hard drive was made to eventually fail. A NAS unit like the Netgear ReadyNAS will give you RAID on top of networking benefits. Or you could just buy a plain vanilla RAID controller for cheap.
Another thought here is, FLAC allows you to select the bit rate... so the overall file size will change accordingly.

I've heard no diffs from one bit rate to another in the 500 - 1000 region.

As it is a lossless codec it stands to reason you could even use the lowest bit rate encoding and save yet more space. The usual default of 768 or so seems appropriate enough though... and digital geography is mighty reasonable lately....

Do really consider having a back up however... Once you finish ripping all those CDs, and see how much time it takes to rip error free, and ever how many drives you will need to replace, you'll understand it better.

I rippped onto a 500GB USB drive... then got an Iomega 1TB NAS. The USB drive is now the back up... it's seldom if ever turned on save to archive to or from.

Have fun... and do them with error checking!
Rakuennow hits it on the head. Every HD eventually fails.

I've rippped about 2k cd's lossless to a 1TB drive, with a bit more than 350GB left. They are all backed up to an older drive.

A RAID is a great idea, and Drobo makes a nice product (no affiliation).

Again all drives fail, so in addition to backing up to a drive, you may consider a low tech inexpensive contingency. I've disposed of all liner notes and jewel cases, and placed all cd's in binders. They take up less than 2 cubic ft. and will not fail. Though I imagine there will be some degredation due to oxidation over long periods of time.

Just don't forget to enjoy the music.
Buy a Netgear NAS Duo 2150, on sale at Newegg for $360 with a $75 rebate. Comes with a single 500GB HD and at the same time buy a 1TB drive and install in the NAS.

Now, when you rip, everything will be automatically mirrored. When you fill the 500GB drive, buy another 1TB drive (or 1.5TB) and remove/replace the 500GB drive (it's all hot swappable) then your NAS will have a capacity of 1TB.
See the following thread for some things to think about before opting for RAID as your backup solution:

-- Al
of course the new way is a static player. You use flash memory instead of a reg.
hard drive which eliminates the jitter (in theory) check out the blacknote dss
I havent a clue what you guys are jabbering about.
Do you like 2 channel Audio quality?

Jitter is not a result of storage technology. It's an I/O overflow issue due to the USB/USC 2.0 bus spec using a non-optimized asynchronous communication protocol. Solid state disks (SSDs) are very fast - too fast, frankly, for the bus IMHO. Like putting a Ferrari engine in a tricycle. Looks good, but how do you justify it?

In order to make the Blacknote DSS work better, I imagine that these guys are using some sort of custom I/O buffer. It probably works well, but it' got to be a hell of a lot cheaper to just use a good DAC with a word clock that supports S/P DIF.
Thanks Al for bringing that RAID link to my attention. I had originally thought a RAID setup would be ideal but then again, maybe not for music storage.
Ozzy, to answer your question, yes, high fidelity 2-channel playback is my primary reason for utilizing lossless digital conversion when transferring cd's to a hard drive. The term "lossless" means you will be making an exact bit for bit copy of the cd to the hard drive without any loss of data or degradation in sound quality. Hope this helps clarify things. Cheers, Chris
RAID is great when it works, but can be difficult to setup properly for non IT administrators. A NAS with built in RAID is a good option, but you do pay extra for this.

Another option for safety is just to pop in another drive that's the same capacity as your music drive, and just setup a daily job in windows to backup the drive. Not as technically fancy as a RAID, but no need to buy or manage hardware or software RAID controllers, which can also fail.
Blindjim, you wrote: "Another thought here is, FLAC allows you to select the bit rate...".

It seems to me you are mistaken. You cannot choose the bit rate, but you can choose the level of compression. Also, there is no such thing as "the usual default of 768". The resulting bit rate of a FLAC file depends on the complexity of the music (for example, jazz be compressed more than heavy metal) and the choosen compression level.

I have a large collection of FLAC, which I keep on DVD+RW disks. You can make use of my statistics: I have currently 1146 albums and they are stored on 93 DVD+RW disks. It means that 1 DVD disk contains on average 12,3 albums. One DVD disk can store 4482 Mb, it means that one album on average occupies 364 Mb.

If you rip your 700 CDs into FLAC, you will need, based on my experience, 249 Gb. This figure will be 10-20% bigger if your albums are hard-to-compress music genres (hard rock, black metal, etc.) Also, this figure will be 10-20% less if you listen primarily to easier-to-compress styles (soul, jazz, voice, a capella, etc.)

I hope it helps.

Evgeny K.
Evgeny, Thanks for the insight in regards to the amount of space you have used on your FLAC DVD-RW storage disks, that really helps shed some light on ways to store the media using a "hard back up" method other than keeping the original disks. Speaking for myself, storing (roughly) 75 DVD-RW disks would take up far less space than 700 disks with covers, no doubt about it!
FLAC compression is like a "zip" file on a computer - it is a lossless way of storing data with mathematical formulas instead of the raw data of the wave form. This is different from .mp3 compression that actually eliminates data points and relies on an algorithm to draw a new wave form. In FLAC compression, the higher the compression, the more time the processor will take to "unzip" the file.

However, once "unzipped" the raw data is the same as the original wave form, regardless of the compression level.
I'd also point out using Firewire or eSata as an interface if you have it. Moving data around is a pain once you have it ripped. Many drives have quad interfaces now (USB2, FW400, FW800, eSata). I'd also use 1TB drives and fill them at most 2/3. Data access speed drops dramatically as the drive gets filled. I have a 1TB drive that is full that crawls even on eSATA. Faster throughput helps for backup, copying etc. And as other have mentioned, drives will fail - so being able copy quickly prior to that event is worthwhile.
Is there a way to convert AIFF to FLAC easily?
many programs will read FLAC so you dont have to convert it. If you need to convert, check out is an incredible program. You may have to re-load artwork, but all tags should remain.
What's preferable to use, AIFF or FLAC? iPods don't read FLAC do they? Which provides greater levels of compression?
For some reason a backup HD I purchased never worked properly (or I just never set it up properly). As an interim solution and also to keep a copy offsite (to protect against fire, theft, etc), I use Carbonite to backup my music collection. I know nothing about computers and such but if my CDs are ripped in FLAC and I use Carbonite, isn't that the same if not better than using a RAID?
Allow me to ask another question. If you've got 700 cds you can fit them on a terebite drive without any compression and still have room for hundreds more. So why deal with compression? Unless you buy new music at a truly maniacal pace, by the time you outgrow the drive space, drives will be bigger and cheaper. Your time is probably worth more than the drive space you'll save.
It's a valid question for sure. Why not save everything as .wav (uncompressed) files?

There are a couple of reasons besides saving space that I use flac:
- The wav format doesn't have any set of agreed-upon ways to store metadata. I always seem to lose metadata whenever I convert from one format to another, or switch from one player to another when I use it. That's not an issue for flac or aiff or wma.

- I think Squeezebox transmits everything in flac format, so it's helpful to have it already compressed so it doesn't have to compress it while streaming.

- Drives are getting cheaper, but bandwidth is not necessarily keeping up. I use a small Passport USB drive at work which at 500Gb can hold all my CDs for now. My music skips a bit if I do anything else that accesses that drive while I'm listening. Using flac cuts the data rate in half or so versus .WAV files, which lowers the USB contention on my laptop, and makes my drive happier.

Cnet has list of MP3 players that play FLAC.Highend seems to me Cowon and good buy is Sansa though video display is not up to snuff you can add micro SD cards and all are cheaper for what they do then Apple.Cowon really is head to head with more expensive Ipod Touch for wifi and all that.
Get two of these 1TB drives:

These are enterprise class drives and are supposed to be a little more reliable than the consumer grade drives known as Caviar Black.

You should make your main file storage drive the drive that does not contain your operating system and keep the backup files on your main system disk. Why? Well for one thing the main system disk gets used more and therefore is more likely to fail. Also, proper computer maintenance requires a reformat of the hard drive and clean reinstall of the operating system once or twice a year to wipe out viruses, corruption, ect. So you don't want long term file storage on that disk.

Either AIFF or Flac are fine. Do not use Apple Lossless, the sound quality is vastly inferior, I don't care what anyone says. Flac and AIFF sound the same to my ears, but Apple Lossless has a sound. Wav is not an option because of the lack of tags. My next MP3 player will be FLAC compatible for sure.
Thanks everyone for your posts. I wound up with a 1TB HD (plenty of space left on the drive) and everything has been converted to FLAC. Many albums on the new HD in FLAC format need to be transferred to CD-R. What would be the best and easiest way to do this?