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

While we are on the topic of optical disc-based archiving, I thought it might be useful to bring up a free tool that’s been designed to help save your bacon in case a disc you are using is damaged, has an inherent flaw or begins to decay:

http://dvdisaster.org/

-brendan

Hi Patrick,

Before moving back to the main topic, I’ll just point out that the whole point of doing it in raid is to keep it online so that errors don’t manifest themselves silently as they would on off-line media. Putting it offline kind of defeats the purpose.

I agree with you, you need the offsite in case of serious failure, but the same is true of DVDs and so forth (think fire). BTW, FWIW you can now buy external USB RAID5 enclosures.

The more important point I’d like to address is your general statements above that there is no appreciable difference between Cyanine, Azo and Phthalocyanine under harsh conditions.

Specifially, “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.” and the related comment, “Due to the extreme cost of MAM-A gold archival media with very little increased protection (if any), I’ll still say TY media is better.”.

All of the labratory tests I can find under extreme conditions or accelerated aging show that phthalocyanine is *significantly* more resistant to degradation than either Azo or Cyanine.

If you can point to something stronger than anectodal evidence that this is not the case, please do.

You can say that you don’t beleive that the extra protection afforded by gold/phthalocyanine media is worth the increased cost, but saying it offers no extra protection flies in the face of exisitng scientific studies.

Neil

As a regular customer, I must also recommend blankmedia.ca as a source of TY media for Canadians. They’re located in Kitchener, ON and offer a pick-up service.

Sho: At least with SuperMediaStore, they sell large cakeboxes of TY (usually in 100 or more) for people who inkjet or thermal print (ie, small scale commercial purposes and the like).

You want the discs to be completely blank (although TY markings are still on the disc if you know where to look) for these tasks.

The reason you don’t see Thats cakeboxes in NA or EU, or in any online store, is because you have to import them from a second party vendor, instead of just buying them straight from TY (like you can with unlabeled media).

So, unless TY decides to market Thats for North America and Europe, you won’t see any stores selling it.

You can always try what Hobbylink Japan ( hlj.com ) does… they sell Japan-native plastic models and supplies (plus other stuff) world wide. I pay out the ass for shipping and handling, but it is worth it.

Kevin: From what I’ve seen, -RW/+RW differ in the exact same ways as -R/+R do. -R/+R already use similar or the same dyes and manufacturing materials, and I suspect -RW/+RW do as well, just substituting rewritable dyes in.

Neil: The only reason I don’t like RAID is because its always online. Unless I can put RAID in an external enclosure, and completely unplug it and store it somewhere safe, its problematic.

A power surge (even $20k surge protectors fail) or really bad hardware failure (I’ve had cases where a bad SCSI controller fried all the attached drives) would kill any constantly online RAID.

So yeah, unless you actually have multiple offsite mirrors of this data, at some point you’re going to have to invest in archival DVD, DVD-RAM, or tape.

Archival DVD just happens to be the cheapest of the three, and the most realistic for the majority of people, thus the focus of my article.

Declan: From what I’ve seen of the pressed media, Bluray and HD-DVD and DVD all use the same materials and construction methods (with Bluray having a slightly thinner plastic layer on the data side, but not seeming to actually effect the protection of the data)…

As for burnt media, without expressly archival quality versions of blank media in Bluray and HD-DVD form, it’s too early to tell, but I suspect it’ll be the same as pressed media (ie, no decrease or increase of data protection).

What about the use of sticky labels on DVDs? I have read that the hub (small) ones are OK for DVDs — but the large, full size labels (such as Avery 5692 are NOT OK. I always wondered WHY?

I am very suspicious of all these online stores selling this no-label media. If TY really does market in Japan as That’s, why don’t the online stores sell That’s branded spindles?

I live in Japan and can go buy you as many That’s spindles as you like. Maybe I should set up an online store selling the obvious real thing, not some no-name thing with a sticker?!

Patrick:

Thanks for a well-written and informative article.

Do you have any thoughts on the relative archival qualities of Bluray vs. HD-DVD?

Thanks,
Declan

Hi Patrick,

Just a few random additons:

1. Here is a very interesting study that was done. They torture tested a number of disks using the three main killers of media (heat, humidity and light).

The interesting things about the study are that phthalocyanine disks actually outlast pressed CDs (which surprised me) and how Azo holds up better at first but then totally collapses later on; even worse than plain Cyanine. Good reading.

here.

2. I have to agree with Mr. 60000. MAM-A media is solid stuff (I work with a large media archival group where this stuff has to last 100’s of years).

And to be honest, as much as I respect the folks over at CDFreaks, it seems to have taken on a kind of Taiyo Yuden fanboy mentality. TY undoubtedly makes some of the best quality media around, but the CD community seems to have made their media into some kind sacred cow.

3. NIST is finally getting involved in the archival media thing. They are running a lot of different tests and working with the manufacturers to produce real standards. I think the results of their work will be very enlighteneing. Sorry, can’t find a link to their home page right now (I’m not at work), but here is one to a study of error rates in media undergoing accelerated aging:

http://www.itl.nist.gov/div895/gipwog/StabilityStudy.pdf

NIST has also published a well researched guide for the care and handling CDs. Not exactly 100% pertinent to the discussion at hand, but still quite useful in it’s own right:

http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub121/contents.html

4. As an aside to everyone, I have noticed a lot of people heartily recommend Kodak gold media.

While I agree that Kodak produced outstanding media (thier silver/gold allow products appeared to be particular winners), they no longer make CD-R media and haven’t for some time. It just comes up again and again.

5. And finally, my personal opinion is that archiving should be done to a hard disk cluster with RAID1 or RAID5 where the data is mirrored to one or more off site repositories.

Why? The data cost is not significantly higher and with scrubbing (not the erasing kind, but the checking kind), you will find out about media failures when they occur and be able to correct the immediately rather than having them happening silently in a box somewhere only to be found just as you really needed the data.

With some smart application of SHA1, it’s easy to constantly confirm the integrity of each file and recover them from an off-site mirror should the need arise. This kind of thing works not only for large archiving systems, but home systems as well (think linux raid with rsync to a buddy’s house and an integrity checking script).

Anyway, I’m slowly moving off topic, so I’ll stop here. Hope some of that is useful to you or your readers.

Neil

BTW, Taiyo Yuden means “Sun Dielectric”.

I don’t think you should write off the RW media for archival purposes. I personally don’t need that level of protection against modification, so RW is fine for me. And if I did, I’m not sure +/-R would provide it as they can, technically, be modified after they’re written. The technical information about the differences between +R and -R was great, but it leaves me wondering if there are similar differences between +RW and -RW.

MAM-A does make a DVD+R here.

Sam G: Useful article.

Mr 60,000: Well, if you’re right about MAM-A media having a low failure right and higher quality burns, then MAM-A has gotten a seriously bad rap.

CDFreaks and two other major disc media communities say anything from “MAM-A is lower quality than TY” to “MAM-A eats the souls of children.”

My sample size isn’t anywhere on the order of yours, its closer to maybe the 1,000 discs I’ve burned myself (Linux distribution the hard way), and everyone I know. It’s not small, but it’s not large either.

Sebastian: One of the Verbatim cakeboxes uses TY media instead; it’s listed in the CDFreaks FAQ I linked to.

David Murry: DVD-RAM is an acceptable alternative. Only problem is, is that it doesn’t hold nearly enough to justify it’s price.

Tapes cost too much, removable hard drives wear out, and flash media is expensive as hell.

Doug Penny: Yeah, either use a real Sandford Sharpie, or use the pens TDK or Verbatim have just for media labeling (which are essentially the same thing as a Sharpie).

In my experience:

Best CDR = Mitsui Gold (Pre MAM)
Best DVDR = Taiyo Yunden 8x +/-R

you can get sharpies for optical media now. probably other brands also.

ULine also sells Taiyo Yuden CDRs: here

“The CD was also designed to store standard computer data, as in 1985 the first CD drives for computers were released”

Actually, it was not designed for computer data. The CD was designed for audio data and audio data only. Later, after Sony and Philips realized that storing computer data on a disk might open up new markets, the format was retrofitted to allow for the storage of computer data.

But it was never designed in the beginning with storing computer data in mind.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_disk for more info.

Thanks for the great article. What about labeling the media? I don’t want to have to print on the media for one-off copies, is a Sharpie OK or is there a better option?

I have had so many problems in the past years with el-cheapo CD-R and DVD-R/+R media going bad on me mearly months after writing, that I switched to DVD-RAM. I discovered it was almost impossible to buy quality recordable media in CD or DVD format because the “true” manufacturer is almost impossible to assertain, and with price wars going on between the labels, it was frustrating trying to buy good media. I found that DVD-RAM is far more reliable than DVD-R. Granted, you can erase it (but I try to buy them in the cartridges that have the write-protect tab)

However… I’ve slowly started moving towards USB flash drives, as I find them more reliable than any optical media (albeit more expensive)

Great article!

A Canadian source for Taiyo Yuden media: http://www.blankmedia.ca. I have no connection except as a satisfied customer.

Where to get the TY brand in good old europe (specialy Germany)?

I tried to google but propably I can`t use it….

BB: BenQ is not known for their great drive quality. I have not compared 16x TY DVD+R media as it is not available yet from SuperMediaStore.

It is quite entirely possible your drive does not burn well at 16x for TY DVD+R media, or your drive does not burn well at 16x for _any_ media.

Also, your drive may require a firmware update to properly burn 16x TY DVD+R media. Since that is a BenQ drive, I’d blame the drive before the media.

I have two production shops that, combined, produce over 60,000 pieces of media per year on six Rimage Protege II units. A combination of CD’s (~90%) and DVD’s (remainder). All of our media is MAM-A (Formerly Mitsui Advanced Media) and uses Mitsui’s Phthalocyanine dye (patented by Mitsui Chemicals). That media is also produced here in the U.S.A. – at their plant in Colorado.

Most of the “bad” media I have encountered (from coworkers having problems with their own disks), came from companies trying to rip off Mitsui’s Phthalocyanine dye. Or from poorly produced Metal Azo or Cyanine based disks.

While I agree that TY media is extremely good, I do not feel that it is light years ahead of all other media produced. Not to the point you have made it out to be. It’s good media, and I would recomend it. Their surface printing characteristics are not to our standards. That’s all.

I have found that MAM-A’s sealing, surface coating, physical handling characteristics, physical durability (drops, mishandling, etc.) printability (thermal retransfer dye sub process) to be as good or better than TY media. In both CD-R and DVD formats, which you fail to mention are manufactured differently.

A CD has it’s reflective layer (usually aluminum, rarely silver*) just under the lacquer layer on the top of the disk. DVDs have it sandwiched between two .6mm pieces of plastic (polycarbonate resin). In a CD, the quality of the lacquer layer provides most of your longevity. In a DVD, it’s the bond between the two layers. MAM-A uses a full-coat glue technology. Most other companies only use edge bonding. And they have a DVD-DL media.

* Aluminum oxidized color is still silvery and reflective. Hence it’s use in mirrors and the HST (Hubble telescope). Silver oxidizes to black (called tarnish). Used to be used in mirrors, but discontinued due to cost (primary) and tarmish (secondary) reasons.

Out of over 500,000 pieces of media produced over the last 9 years of operation I can honestly say that I have had some spoils. They are rare and the equipment accounts for it performing a reject of the disk and reworking it. In otherwords, I have never had a disk that reported “burn good” that was later unreadable.

In all fairness, I did find your explanation of the differences between DVD-R and DVD+R to be extremely enlightening. For that, thank you.

So, my question is here, what is your sample size? How many disks/year are you producing, using what software and hardware?

If I had a spindle of 10 disks, and one was bad, that’s 10% – which is crap. But if I’ve loaded up the machine with 300 disks, and had one reject (or .33%) I might not be so upset. Our reject rate, due to faulty media, is signifigantly lower than that – around .005 – .01%. Thats between .5 and 1 disks/10,000 pieces.

Agreed on the Mitsui MAM-A Gold media. Available in DVD-R, though not DVD+R that I’ve seen.

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