How To Choose CD/DVD Archival Media

(Last updated January 11th 2013)

Translations: Serbo-Croatian by Jovana Milutinovich

Ahh, I’ve been planning to write this one for awhile: an entire article on archival quality media. As I do professional software development as well as professional photography (what a weird combination), I need archival quality CD and DVD media to store my data on.

However, one of the hardest things to is actually find good media, or even understand why it is good media. This article focuses on the history of Compact Discs, writable CD/DVD media, and why DVD+R is superior to DVD-R. If you want to just know what media is worth buying, skip to the summary at the bottom.

Short history of the Compact Disc
The invention of the Compact Disc has had a large impact on both music and computing in the last 20 years. Invented in 1979 as a joint project between Sony and Philips to counter the self-destructive nature of consumer audio playback (such as tapes and records that could only be played so many times before the recording degraded significantly) by switching to a resilient digital format.

The CD was also designed to store standard computer data, as in 1985 the first CD drives for computers were released; massive, bulky, and expensive, it was not until the mid-90s that they really took off, driven almost solely by video games and large multimedia applications.

In 1990, Sony and Philips went back to the drawing table, and then came out with the CD-R, a record-once medium. Yet again, the first CD burners were large, expensive, and bulky, but by the late 90s having a CD burner was the new ‘in’.

The first few generations of CD media, designed by Taiyo Yuden (a company who I respect, and buy all my archival quality media from), actually kind of sucked; it wasn’t until around 2000 that companies started producing very high end media.

CDs and DVDs store individual bits (encoded in various ways depending on the media) with spots of reflective and non-reflective areas. This method is called ‘pits and lands’, where pits ‘absorb’ light (ie, are ‘off’ bits) and lands ‘reflect’ light (ie, are ‘on’ bits).

With pressed media, the pressing method causes pits to reflect the laser’s light away from the sensor, and the lands to reflect it back at the sensor. With burned media, a high energy laser causes spots of organic dye to go opaque and obscure the reflective surface for the pits, leaving the organic dye for lands alone.

Short history of the DVD
While burning was becoming popular in the late 90s, so was playing high quality video on DVDs. Storing almost 7 times the data of a 700MB CD (or almost 13 in the case of dual layer DVDs), allowed companies to store massive amounts of data on one disc, leading to the movie industry to drop VHS tapes and the video game industry to drop CDs.

In 1995, the first DVD specification was ratified by over a dozen companies including Sony and Philips, as well as Thompson, Pioneer, and Mitsubishi. By 2000, at least half the homes in the US and Japan had DVD players.

So, obviously, the next step was to produce burnable DVDs. Two separate, and incompatible, efforts took hold. The first one, Pioneer’s DVD-R (pronounced ‘DVD dash R’) was released in 1997, using different data storage methods than pressed DVDs (appearing to be more like CD-R than DVD), a poor error correction scheme, and the ‘wobble’ laser tracking system of DVD-R is inadequate for the job.

The second effort, lead by the DVD+RW Alliance (headed by Sony, Philips, Mitsubishi, and Thompson) was released in 2002, as an alternative to the poorly implemented DVD-R. DVD+R uses a superior ‘wobble’ laser tracking system, a far better error correction method, and the media quality itself is typically higher. (See the ‘Why DVD+R?’ section below for a more technical explanation)

Why archival media is hard to produce
Unlike pressed CDs/DVDs, ‘burnt’ CDs/DVDs can eventually ‘fade’, due to five things that effect the quality of CD media: Sealing method, reflective layer, organic dye makeup, where it was manufactured, and your storage practices (please keep all media out of direct sunlight, in a nice cool dry dark place, in acid-free plastic containers; this will triple the lifetime of any media).

The silver and aluminum alloys used in virtually all blank CD/DVD media has one major issue, requiring the manufacturer to lacquer a protective seal over the entire disc: silver and aluminum oxidize when they hit air, turning the normally reflective layer into silver or aluminum rust. Some (very expensive) media uses gold instead which doesn’t oxidize, however DVD media cannot use gold due to design issues (not true anymore, see update 1 below). Today, only the cheapest of the cheap media has severe issues with sealing practices (as such, avoid any media made outside of Japan and Taiwan; especially avoid media made in India).

Assuming that the protective seal and reflective layer are manufactured correctly, the next issue is the organic dye. The first organic dyes, designed by Taiyo Yuden, were Cyanine-based and, under normal conditions, had a shelf life of around ten years; simply, that was simply unacceptable for archive discs. Taiyo Yuden, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Mitsui Co., and Ciba Specialty Chemicals spent the next ten years trying to produce the best organic dyes, eventually reaching archive-quality CD media.

Taiyo Yuden produced ‘Super Cyanine’, a chemically stabilized version of the original Cyanine dye designs, while TDK offers media that uses ‘metal-stabilized Cyanine’ dye, leading to similar shelf lives as Taiyo Yuden’s media. Taiyo Yuden states their Super Cyanine dye is chemically stable for at least 70 years, and TDK states their metal-stabilized Cyanine is also stable for 70 years.

On the other hand, Mitsubishi went in a different direction and produced what is called a Metal Azo dye, that they claim is stable for around 100 years. Azo dyes are chemically stable, however, the shelf life of media using Azo dyes typically does not exceed that of Super Cyanine and metal-stabilized Cyanine.

The third dye produced for CD media is called Phthalocyanine dye, with the majority of such dyes produced by Mitsui and Ciba. Typically marketed as more resistant to heat and UV radiation than Cyanine and Azo, modern Cyanine and Azo dyes last just as long in extreme conditions.

DVDs also use similar dyes, however manufacturers have intentionally kept what dyes they use a secret (instead of a feature in their marketing of the media), and all blank DVDs are intentionally the same color (as different dyes on CDs make blanks different colors, however, it is not indicative of what dye is used due to some manufacturers using different colored silver alloys and non-reactive additives in the dye).

Why Taiyo Yuden media, and how to buy in the US
The best discs in circulation tend to be Taiyo Yuden media. In Japan, you find their media under the brand That’s, which are wholly owned by Taiyo Yuden.

As of late 2009, Taiyo Yuden announced they were buying the JVC Advanced Media brand, and making it a wholly owned and operated brand for TY products. They did this to put Taiyo Yuden products on store shelves worldwide. See update 4 at the bottom for a full explanation.

Simply put, I have never had problems with any kind of Taiyo Yuden media. Ever. I have bought CDs and DVDs under a dozen different brands (including non-Taiyo Yuden manufactured TDK and Verbatim), and the only ones that have had a 100% success rate is Taiyo Yuden.

If you cannot find any company selling media under the Taiyo Yuden/JVC Advanced Media brand, I suggest buying from the SuperMediaStore.com, who offer a wide range of Taiyo Yuden CD media, DVD-R media, and DVD+R media. I tend to buy just from them, as they are the only company that guarantees that their media is actually from Taiyo Yuden and not a fake (see the above linked FAQ on information about fake Taiyo Yuden media).

Why DVD+R?
This is the most technical section of the article. If you don’t understand the basics of how CD/DVD media works, or find such technical discussions boring, skip to the next section.

As I said earlier, DVD-R sucks for data preservation for three reasons: inferior error correction, inferior ‘wobble’ tracking, and the fact its data writing methods look like an un-needed halfway point between CD-R and DVD+R. The wobble tracking I shall explain first, then the error corrections method, then the specifics of ATIP/pre-pit/ADIP optimum power settings.

For a CD/DVD burner to track where it is on the disc, it uses three things: the ‘wobble’ of the data track (where it actually wobbles back and forth instead of in a straight line) to tell where it is in the track, the position of the track to tell where it is on the disc, and some additional information on the disc to tell where the track (singular, as CDs and DVDs only have one track, and it is written in a concentric spiral) begins and ends.

This additional information on a CD-R is called the ATIP (Absolute Time In Pregroove), which contains how long the track is, where it begins, what the maximum and minimum writing speeds are, what formula dye it uses, who actually made it, optimum power control settings, and error correction data. The ATIP is stored as a frequency modulation in the wobble itself.

However, since the wobble changes subtly to encode data, it is impossible to use with the small size of tracks DVD requires, as electric noise in the laser pickup and wobbles introduced by the electric motor spinning the disc, these could easily be read as frequency changes in the real track itself.

On DVD-R, they tried to solve the problem with something called ‘pre-pits’ where spikes in the amplitude of the wobble appear due to pits fully out of phase with the rest of the track (ie, between two spirals of the track, where there is no data). This can be viewed as a simple improvement over CD-R as it makes it easier to track the wobble (since the wobble is constant except for the easy to detect and remove spikes).

Unfortunately, this method as one flaw: due to electric noise in the laser pickup, it would be very easy to miss the pre-pit (or read one that wasn’t actually there) if the disc were damaged or spun at fast speeds. The time to read a pre-pit is 1T (roughly .0000000038th of a second), which even for a computer can be easy to miss. DVD-R traded hard to track frequency changes for hard to read wobble-encoded data.

On a DVD+R, however, they came up with a much better method. Instead of changing the frequency of the wobble, or causing amplitude spikes in the wobble, they use complete phase changes. Where CD-R’s and DVD-R’s methods make you choose between either easy wobble tracking or easy ATIP reading, DVD+R’s method makes it very easy to track the wobble, and also very easy to encode data into the wobble. DVD+R’s method is called ADIP (ADdress In Pre-groove), which uses a phase change method.

With ADIPs’ phase changes, the direction of the wobble changes and continues on going in the exact opposite direction (ie, counter-clockwise to clockwise, or the reverse). For example, if the wobble was ‘going up’, the phase change causes it to instantly reverse direction start ‘going down’ no matter where it in the wobble cycle. The phase change is very easy to detect, and also continues for a set period (in this case, one 32T section of the track, or 32 times longer than the pre-pit method of DVD-R).

The state of the phase change (clockwise or counter-clockwise) encodes the individual bits in each block In essence, with the phase change method, not only do you have an easy way of tracking the wobble, but you now have an easy way of reading wobble-encoded data.

As I mentioned earlier, this wobble-encoded data includes error correction of wobble-encoded data itself. Error correction is the most important part of media, because if it does not work, then you’ve lost your data, even if there is nothing seriously wrong with the disc.

The DVD-R specification states that for every 192 bits, 64 of them are not protected under any scheme, 24 of them are protected by 24 bits of parity, and the last 56 bits are protected by another 24 bits of parity. This weird (to put it mildly) scheme allows you to easily scramble or lose 25% of the data that is required to read your disk! This information is almost more important than the actual data burned on the disc itself.

The DVD+R specification, however, states that for every 204 bits of information, it is split into four blocks of 52 bits containing 1 sync bit to prevent misreading because of phase changes, 31 bits of data, and a 20 bit parity (that protects all 32 bits of data). The sync bit is always the same value in all four blocks, and exists only to prevent phase inversions.

Now, the third item on the list: how DVD+R discs burn better. As I said earlier, ATIP/pre-pit/ADIP stores information about optimum power control settings. This information is basically formulas stating how much output power is needed, what the laser startup power should be, and other pieces of information you require to properly burn a DVD.

Optimum power control output is dependent on three things: burning speed, laser wavelength, and information given to the drive about the media. DVD-R basically fails on all three accounts because DVD+R simply includes far more information about the media in the ADIP data than DVD-R does in it’s pre-pit data.

DVD+R includes four optimum profiles, one for four major burning speeds (usually 2x, 4x, 6x, and 8x, though this can change as speeds increase). Each of these profiles include optimum power output based on laser wavelength, more precise laser power settings, and other additional information. With this information, any DVD+R burner can far more optimize it’s burning strategy to fit the media than it can with DVD-R, consistently providing better burns.

For comparison, DVD-R includes one profile, optimum power output based for that one profile only and uncalibrated towards what wavelength it is for, less precise laser power settings, and no other additional information. Typically, DVD-R burners have to already know how to burn a certain piece of media (and include this information in their firmwares) before they can properly burn to it. New media often is not properly supported.

In addition to the optimum power control profiles, DVD+R also gives four times more scratch space for the drive to calibrate the laser on; more space can only improve the calibration quality. So, in short, DVD+R media exists to simply produce better burns and protect your data better.

And finally, the end of the article…
Finally, after roughly three pages of technical discussion, we arrive at the end of my dissertation on archival quality CD/DVD media. So, you’re probably now wondering, in simple terms, what media do I recommend?

To begin with, I do not recommend CD-RW, DVD-RW, or DVD+RW media in any form for permanent storage. This is mostly a no-brainer, but those discs are meant to be able to be changed after burning, and they are simply unsuitable for long-term archival storage. I also do not recommend DVD-R media due to DVD+R’s superior error correction and burning control.

That said, I recommend Taiyo Yuden media across the board. Taiyo Yuden currently manufactures 52x CD-R, 16x DVD-R, and 16x DVD+R media in normal shiney silver, inkjet printable, and thermal printable forms. Taiyo Yuden may be one of the most expensive (if not the most expensive), but their media quality is unsurpassed. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I recommended buying from SuperMediaStore.com as they are the only online US distributor that guarantees that their Taiyo Yuden media is certified as coming from Taiyo Yuden.

So, what am I using? Due to Taiyo Yuden’s superior media quality, and DVD+R’s superior design, I use only Taiyo Yuden DVD+R media. I recommend this media to everyone who wishes to keep their data for a long, long time.

Update 1: It seems MAM-A and Kodak actually has managed to make a gold DVD, though no one else seems to be manufacturing them (Taiyo Yuden/JVC Advanced Media now makes an archival gold disc, see update 6). However, MAM-A’s gold archival media still doesn’t seem to exceed TY quality (although Mr 60,000 in the comments below puts TY second best to MAM-A). Due to the extreme cost of gold archival media ($2+ a disc) with very little increased protection (if any), I’ll still say TY media is better. I want to see more independent tests on this before I change my recommendation.

In addition, I’d like to mention that Verbatim has been relabeling other brands of disc as their own. If the box/spindle/cakebox the discs come in don’t say they’re manufactured with Verbatim’s proprietary Azo dye (sometimes called Advanced Azo, sometimes not, depending on the product) then they aren’t Verbatim media at all and should be avoided as they may not meet typical home archival standards.

Update 2: (Sept. 19th 2007) Its almost been a year since I first wrote this article. My recommendations for media have not changed, my recommendations for DVD burners have.

Samsung: Samsung is currently producing two drives worth owning, the
Samsung SH-S222AB
(SATA). They’re not considered archival grade, but they’re not bad.

TEAC: TEAC makes an archival drive that is ISO/IEC10995 compliant, and is very expensive. Comes in two forms, external USB DV-W5000U and internal SATA DV-W5000S. I’ve seen DV-W5000U drives for sale for $500, and refurbished DV-W5000S drives for $150-200. This is the elite of drives, and recommended if you’re very serious about 30+ year archival storage.

Update 3: (July 26th 2009) Its been awhile since I updated this article. Pioneer is no longer manufacturing drives worth using. Just buy a Samsung or TEAC drive like I link to above. I’m using two Samsung drives now after my PX-716 finally died after years of service.

My recommendation on TY and Verbatim hasn’t changed, and I imagine it will never change; DVD media will not change significantly from here on out. Bluray in my opinion is not worth switching over to unless you’re storing data that can be measured in hundreds of gigabytes, and at that point you might want to look into archival tape storage.

When Bluray is worth switching over to, I’ll write a follow up article to this one. High quality single layer media will have to drop below 50 cents a piece and Bluray burners will have to become ubiquitous (much like DVD burners are now) before that happens. I’m thinking 2011 or later.

Update 4: (August 3rd 2010) Taiyo Yuden has bought the JVC Media brand and is now operating under the JVC Advanced Media brand. You can now buy TY inside JVC boxes and get your usual TY quality. This site has the conversion of part numbers.

JVC has not bought Taiyo Yuden, and Taiyo Yuden is in full control of this new venture. They merely bought they name so they can put TY products on store shelves worldwide.

SuperMediaStore.com is selling almost all JVC Advanced Media branded TY products in place of the old TY branded ones.

Update 5: (September 27th 2011) A few people have asked about how PIE/PIF scans work.

DVD-R and DVD+R both employ two stage error correction.

PIE (Parity Inner Error) just means error correction was used, PIF (Parity Inner Failure) means the error was unrecoverable using the inner ECC block but still may be recovered using the outer ECC block . On tools that give avg/max/total, max PIE values above 140, or max PIF values above 4* means the disc needs to be replaced but the data most likely isn’t corrupted yet**.

For a burn to be considered still pristine you want max PIE below 20 and max PIF 3 or lower.

Discs will NOT be pristine after 5 years, but there is a fall off of PIF/PIE increasing after 6 months and doesn’t seem to start picking up again until 5-10 years depending on storage environment.

Totals for PIF can be as high as 100k yet have a max of 20, and total PIF can be as high as 1000 but have a max below 3. Max PIE is considered mostly fatal above 280 and can reach as high as 1664, and max PIF can reach as high as 208*.

DVD+R generally will maintain lower values for both due to superior error correction techniques.

* Some tools and/or drives won’t list above 4 for PIF.

** Some tools and/or drives also list PO (Parity Outer) uncorrectable errors. This is for any read that has a max PIF above 4. This indicates a mostly unrecoverable data corruption error, which would effect (if I’ve done my math right) 36k of data (although that doesn’t mean the whole 36k of data is corrupted, just that its corrupted inside of that 36k). This still does not indicate the disc is unreadable, some obsessive ripping tools will try multiple reads in an effort to get a valid read or different incorrect reads that can be merged into a valid read.

Update 6: (January 11th 2013) Taiyo Yuden announced last year that they are now producing an ISO/IEC10995 compliant archival grade gold alloy DVD-R. Sadly, its not DVD+R and I’m hoping they’ll consider making a DVD+R version as well. Not many vendors carry this disc yet.

Also, a few people have asked when I’m going to write that Bluray follow up article. I don’t think Bluray is viable for long term archival storage yet. I continue my recommendation that if you need to store hundreds of gigabytes of data or more, consider archival tape.

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Published October 30th, 2006

Comments

1,249 Responses

Thanks so much for your informative article and followup posts! I’ve learned a lot and have decided to upgrade my old Pioneer -R drive and go with TY +R media for archiving my MiniDV videos. A few questions:

– The Samsung SH-202G appears to be discontinued. The closest available model seems to be the SH-S202J. Is this still a recommended model?

– At the moment, looking at supermediastore, the +R TY media has a smaller selection and higher price compared to -R. Is this typical?

– Is is still correct that TDK spindles marked as “Made in Japan” are TY media?

Leslie: I’ve answered this question several times, including in the article itself, please read the comments in full.

Matt: The Amazon reviews for Fellows products are usually BS, I’ve never had a problem with their storage products ever. The only real problem with the large folders is that sometimes the pure weight of the discs can damage the folder… but you simply be more careful what you’re doing then.

As for those sleeves, I don’t like using them because they may scratch the disc’s surface due to friction. You can’t avoid it when using paper (my Fellows wallet uses a soft synthetic braided felt-like material), I honestly wouldn’t use them.

The cheapest way to store optical discs is to use wallets that don’t have “open” holders that the discs can fall out accidently (again, my Fellows wallet uses archival-safe clear plastic to hold the discs in).

A lot of people still go for a box full of slimline CD cases, but that is only useful if you’re storing thousands of discs and are worried about the archival quality of the wallet.

Also, I’d like to remind you that you can only store discs vertically, they should be never laid flat.

Hi Patrick,

I read this article at least a year ago, and have been following your advice ever since. It’s an excellent and impressive resource, and even more impressive that you’ve kept up with the comments for so long! Thank you.

Anyway, a question about storing optical archive media:

I saw above you are using the 320 disc wallet by Fellowes. The Amazon reviews weren’t too flattering. I actually bought the “216 Disc Capacity Black Leather-Like Quality CD Wallet” from SuperMediaStore (product code AC-007-1312). I wouldn’t testify to its quality, but you can buy two for the price of one of the Fellowes wallets you mentioned.

The question is, how can I be sure that the materials won’t harm my DVDs?

The other thing I was considering was buying bulk sleeves (e.g. SuperMediaStore part AC-005-0042) and finding some kind of box I could use to store all the DVDs (vertically, like in a filing cabinet). Do you happen to know if the paper sleeves are at all harmful to optical media?

In short, I’m looking for the cheapest way to store potentially hundreds of optical discs (but with safety/data integrity being the top priority).

Thoughts?

Thanks again!

I am looking for reliable archival media that will protect my photo files. Will the gold DVDs do this job?

Seems to me that Sony / Phillips, Hollywood, and RIAA have aspired to limit how much can fit on optical media. My SD card holds more than most Double Layer DVDs. Why hasn’t optical media kept pace with hard drive capacity? CDs used to be 10x bigger than harddrives. Now, even Blu-Ray is about 1/10th the size of easily available harddrives.

Sony has a conflict of interest in that it is a major player in selling content (music data) as well as the medium. Seems they do not want that higher capacity media to hit the market. SysAdmins need better choice than tape.

I read your article for the media information, but was also in the market for my first DVD burner. I’m in the Cincinnati area and found a PX716 locally (appears to be a refurb for 149.99, WOW, sort of pricey), but they also had the Samsung SH-S202G/BEBN for 29.99, so I bought it. Store claims to have sold 4-500 of these with zero returns. Will go with your recommendation for archival media, many thanks for the info, I know just enough to get me in trouble. 1-14-2008

milsoRgen: I buy discs in extremely large bulk, up to 200 at a time. Since thats about 25-30 cents a disc at current prices, I just use my TY discs for “throw away” discs.

30 cents compared to the 66 cents you’re paying is a big difference.

Great recommendations and info to back it all up. This really was a great read, and I know the whole purpose was to look take a look at optical media for archival purposes. But what about quick ‘n cheap burning? What commonly found brand do you recommend for uses less than archival? Such as a quick Linux install, file sharing or DivX playback? Personally I’ve been using 2 dollar 3 packs of DVD+R Maxewell media.

Sony discs in my experience die rather quickly… your archived data may already be dead. It may be too late to transfer your data to something else.

Now, the Gold archival people aren’t wrong, their discs do last long… but no longer than TY or Verbatim. Its like the people who try to sell $3000 audio cables to carry digital audio. It works; it just does not work better.

Terrific read. thanks so much for taking the time to post this! i found your article while trying to do my own research on ‘archival gold’ dvd media.

Over the past 2 years, I have been painstakingly transferring our 50 or so 8mm and MiniDV tapes, to DVD’s, for the sake of not only being able to enjoy the chapters and custom editing i can do with a DVD, but for of course, longevity as well.

I, like probably many, have now heard the term ‘Gold Archival media’, and am led to believe that i am foolish to keep any of my ‘treasured’ memories on anything but..

I have OCD, and so now am obsessed at what i should do. part of me wants to grab a spindle of 100 MAM-A gold DVDs and redo my countless hours of editing..
but what is the reality of the longevitity of my current library – I only, ONLY use Sony DVD+R media, simply because i have enjoyed perfect compatibility and historically high quality. I store them all in slim-line clear DVD cases purchased from Best Buy.

Will all my movies suddenly go up in smoke in 25 years? or do you believe the ‘gold archival’ craze is a means of marketing to people so they go out and buy more expensive media, with no ‘real’ discernable difference ?

Thank you for your continued insight! really enjoyed reading.
regards, david

agreed with roger

According to SuperMediaStore, they are producing 16x DVD+R now.

Hey Patrick. Again, great article.

A long time ago I bought 100 Taiyo Yuden DVD+R 8x. Sow I’m having a hard time trying to get some more – don’t know why, but it seems no online store is shipping internationally. I’m not sure, but I’m almost certain I bought from supermediastore at the time… damn it! 😀

Anyway, I just saw on eBay a TY’s 100-Pak of a 16x DVD+R media. Since you say in your article that “Taiyo Yuden currently manufactures… 8x DVD+R” I started wondering (BTW, funny how the TY 8x DVD+R media is just not available there).

Is TY really producing 16x DVD+R? Any comments over this matter would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Hi,

guy Jiri posted a comment on December 11th, 2006 at 10:10 pm.

Maybe someone’s interested in it, so here’s what I found. Since I really have to find as reliable sources as possible for anything Im gonna mention in my bachelor thesis, Ive been searching and I found this article, which pretty much explains how Jiri kinda misunderstood that part of your article (or maybe you might have explained it little better 😉 :-P).

http://www.cdfreaks.com/reviews/Why-DVDRW-is-superior-to-DVD-RW

See, Jiri thought you we’re mentioning protection of the actual data, but it regarded the information carried by “Pre-Pits”. If I got that right, there’s a 192b pre-pit for each ECC, carrying addressing info.

The CID stuff looks very very interesting. Now, given that disc manufacturers basically inflate the numbers of years their discs will last (I usually divide by 3 to get a more accurate number), this would seem to increase a 30 year disc to maybe 40 or 45 years (although something like this would have to be actually tested for a decade before you’d have an accurate outlook on how well they fair).

If they really are designed by Lucent, I’m sure it won’t cause damage, so there probably is no harm in using them… just don’t expect miracles.

Your son is somewhat correct, BTW. Some people refuse to look at actual research and simply go with what the manufacturer tells them. When dealing with multi-million dollar data (not that I’m saying you have that, nor am I saying you don’t have that), you do the testing yourself, or you go compile results from a bunch of major research projects.

Some people are simply obsessed with the word archival, and have really no idea what it really means.

That said, yeah, if someone gave me a stack of Verbatim gold discs, I’d know my data was safe… because its Verbatim, not because its gold.

As for different plastic types, polypropylene is decent plastic. Its used in the medical industry, its used for the sheaths on wires, its used in oven-safe/microwave-safe plastic containers. Its also extremely durable and dirt-resistant. Rubbermaid and Sterilite brand products are often made from polypropylene.

When burned, it emits little smoke, no toxic halogens (which leads to corrosive chemicals at high tempatures).

That said, its great for protecting discs and other archival materials. Cases made from that are usually of the highest quality you can get. Commercial DVD movie releases usually use DVD cases made from this material.

The DVD storage folder I use has the actual “pages” made from that material, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

David, if you start using those protector sheets, come back in a few years and tell me if they worked well. I may be interested in using them myself.

Patrick,

As to the Corrosion Intercept Technology. I just got the University Products catalog today. I’ve got the feeling they are very reputable. 320 pages and dedicated to museum and library professionals. I’ve done business before with their sister co., Lineco, which manufactures archival, acid free materials for museums, artists, bookbinding etc.

It says in the catalog that this technology was created by Lucent Bell labs. Their research found that within a closed enclosure, archival life was increased 40 to 120 yrs. U Products make full enclosures (albums, sleeves, pages etc. but are fairly expensive, so they offer a “cost effective” ($0.89 to $0.69 each) alternative- just the jewel case insert which they maintain absorbs organic gases, mold mildew and off-gassing of the media itself, acting as a barrier inside a “closed container”. I guess the caveat is the closed container.

Our 17 yr old son (our resident geek) insists that the clients need to see that gold disk saying ARCHIVAL. To be cost effective, I think I’ll just use the TY disk in a polypropylene case with a Corrosion insert and include a page explaining the archival nature of the package and how to care for their media.

Is there really a case for using only polypropylene enclosures. Is PP Poly the same?

Thanks,

David C.

Michael Spiros: I’m having trouble understanding what you’re saying. Are you trying to play DVDs in a CD-ROM drive? It won’t work even if you install software to do so.

David: Huh, that Corrosion Intercept product looks rather interesting, except it doesn’t protect around the edge as well (only the surface).

Still, I wonder if it works. If it does, then it’d be a boon to the optical media archival people; if it doesn’t, then I hope it doesn’t harm the media.

Hi Patrick,

My wife is a wedding photographer for some 35 years and over the last few years I have slowly brought her into the digital world. Now most of her work goes out the door on CD’s and DVD’s. The photolab she uses for reprints got her really worried that she should be using archival media and pointed her towards Delkin, When I got going to research I was taken back by the prices of gold…then I found your article and have read almost all of the follow-ups.

If you don’t mind commenting, I have decided to go the following route: Taiyo Yuden CD-r and DVD-r, using polypropylene jewel cases instead of the cheap (probably polystyrene) Compusa and Costco cases, which I read gives off a data deteriorating gas.

A company called University Products (www.archivalsuppliers.com) makes a case insert called “Corrosion Intercept, which collects any airborn pollutants, mold or mildew, which they say increased the data life another 40+ years. And for those few Lightscribe DVD’s we make , switch to the Verbatim v. 1.2 product, even though, nowhere can I find a published archival expectancy.

Should this be the way to go to ease my wife’s worries but not break the bank. When I asked her if she would be satisfied with just a hundred years with TY instead of the 300 yrs. with Gold, she was very happy just to assure her clients with 100.

Thanks in advanced for the reply and /or modifying suggestions.

David

I want to use my cd and also be able to play dvd on the same drive. My dvd driver is in but won’t recognize the dvd. Help?

I believe Verbatim makes Mini DVDs now, go use those.

I am currently archiving my older hi-8 tapes to DVD and appreciate the info found in your article. I just bought a mini dvd camcorder and wondered if you have any recommendations for the best media to use there? I intend to keep my original mini dvds and also burn copies on standard dvd for viewing and archiving. Thanks.

My opinion on dual layer discs does not have to do with archival. As far as I’ve seen, Verbatim’s dual layer discs archive just as well as their single layer discs.

What I dislike about dual layer discs, that unless your archival set is larger than 5 gigs and cannot be placed on multiple discs (such as, say, a larger than 5 gigabyte file, a backup of a pre-existing dual layer DVD, etc etc), and unless physical space is an issue (you need as few discs as possible), single layer DVDs are simply in your favor due to cost.

great and informative article but wondered about your being negative on dual layer discs due to their cost. An engineer on a canon yahoo group opined that the dual layer discs would have the best archival coatings due to how they have to be put down to do what they do-I can’t articulate the details because I don’t recall them and probably didn’t undrstand them at the time. What say you? Would the dual layer coatings (I’m thinking specifically Verbatim here or even generally speaking) be better archival protection than the coating over a single layer DVD (except of course for Taiyo Yuden DVDs). Many thanks, jim

thanks for the GREAT post! Very useful…

That implies Gold has some sort of drive incompatibility: it doesn’t. As long as the metal alloy in the media responds to the color of the laser, everything works fine.

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