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. Helped me confirm on format of DVD to use for archival of my data, photo and video.

Your sugesstions pertaining to why DVD+R is best for archiving sugests two Samsung burners. Do you have any sugestions for where they are available? Also do you have any sugestions of players that are capable of taking advantage of tracking features that are built into DVD+R disks? Appreciate you sharing your knowledge. It has been very useful as we attempt to archive our 60 year old 8mm movie film of our off spring. Thanks.

Almost any place that carries computer hardware should have Samsung burners available. Newegg still has the SATA ones in stock.

All players should use the data integrity features in DVD+R as they are the same ones in DVD-ROMs; unlike those in DVD-R which are like CD-R’s.

Can’t seem to find any TY gold DVD+R discs online. Plenty of DVD-R though. Do they no longer make DVD+R discs? Or do I just need to reformat my search query?

Take “gold” out of the query. Also, I’d watch out, TY on eBay and small unheard of sites are often counterfeit.

Patrick,
Thanks for a very informative website !

You have convinced me on T.Y. DVD+R for archiving my important data and photo files.

At the supermedia site, they offer JVC/TY as
8x silver inkjet printable
8x silver thermal
16x silver thermal lacquer
8x white inkjet [.. and more white ones …]

Does it make a difference in long-term stability between silver thermal, silver thermal lacquer, or white ? Is it OK to write on them with Sharpies ? I’m inclined to go for the 16x disks, even though my burner only does 8x.

Thanks for your advice !

There is no difference in stability with the different layers on top, they are applied on top of the polycarbonate plastic layer.

White Inkjet is meant for printers who have disc slots, Silver Inkjet is meant for printers who have white ink (rare), and silver thermal is for thermal printers. I use Sharpies on silver thermal discs, just make sure you don’t accidentally smudge the writing off before it dries and don’t accidentally scrape it off after it has dried.

I recommend you only burn at 4x or 6x on your 8x burner. My general rule is you burn at the next speed or two down because I don’t entirely trust drive manufacturers. You can get drives faster than 16x now, so maybe you should upgrade so you can burn at 16x.

Patrick, I have a spindle of unused TY 8X DVD-R that are dated from 2005. Are these still usable for archiving files or do they deteriorate if left unused for a few years?

Should work fine. I regularly have half-full spindles that are years old that still work great.

Just a word of thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Thank you for excellent article. I want to Archive some Spiritual Discourses.

I have heard that new TY JVC DVDs 16x ar not as good as TY 8x. I have never tried as they are not available in India.

I am willing to import TY JVC DVD+R Archival grade. Can you please let me know the difference between TY JVC water shield, TY JVC Hard coat and TY JVC archival grade.

I have tried Verbatim Archival Grade Verbatim Gold from Amazon made in Dubai.I also tried Kodak Gold DVD. These are very good disks with low PI/PO errors at 4x. I plan to back up 3 copies.

Thanks

Watershield are inkjet printable discs (for those people who have inkjets with disc trays) that, once printed, cannot smear the ink when wet. Hardcoat uses the special polycarbonate developed for Bluray, and is supposed to be absolutely damage proof; it is overkill for DVDs if you take care of your discs properly. Archival grade are just normal discs.

Thanks Patrick,

So TY JVC Hardcoat DVDs should be bought for archival than Gold Archival DVDs.

Or go for Verbatim Archival Grade Gold DVD-R, which has both Gold and Hard coat.

Thank you.

I’ve been buying normal archive grade DVD+R. I don’t personally need the hardcoat because I rarely handle the discs; they’re unlikely to be scratched.

OK. I also do not use archival grade. I just store them vertically with silica bags (1gm or 2gm) to absorb moisture.

Thanks for your valuable help.

If DVD+R has a different error correcting method, how is it possible that old DVD-players (that don’t normally support DVD+R) play and error-correct DVD+R disks that have their booktype changed to DVD-ROM (which is a popular practice) during finalizing of the disk?
Or does the practice of changing the booktype of DVD+R to DVD-ROM destroy DVD+R’s benefits?

A finalized DVD+R is virtually identical to DVD-ROM. The difference between DVD+R and DVD-R error correction is that DVD+R (and DVD-ROM) use a DVD-type error correction, while DVD-R’s is much closer to how CD-R and data CDs worked.

One more question I forgot to ask earlier…what’s the difference between the “gold lacquer” JVC dvds for about fifty cents versus the “Archival Gold” dvds from Delkin, Mitsui and Verbatim for $3?

Not sure, got a URL for them? They might be the old pre-TY JVC stuff.

Hrm, due to the price and the media code, they look like normal archival grade discs. I suspect they may have the hardcoat on them (prevents scratches, uses same extra hard scratch proof material that Blurays do).

I am very sure they are not actually gold alloy though.

Nice article Patrick…you hit a home run with this one. Like you, I’ve never had a problem with Taiyo Yuden and use it almost exclusively. I have three questions for you:
1) If I wanted to archive family movies from 2004 on something super reliable so my great grandchildren can view them someday, do you know anything about the Mitsui Gold Archival DVD+R as far as reliability?
2) Would you feel safer archiving on a standard silver Taiyo Yuden DVD+R or a Mitsui Gold Archival DVD+R?
3) You recommend DVD+R as opposed to DVD-R, but what are the downfalls of DVD+R? Is my memory serving me correctly when I say that Some older computers and dvd players won’t play DVD+R? And/or some computers won’t burn DVD+R?
Thanks for the help!

The Mitsui Gold DVDs have been brought up before. Although they cost like 5 times more than TY DVD+R, I have no reason to believe they perform better. The metal and dyes chosen by TY are chosen for their ability to be clearly read in adverse conditions, resist oxidation, and resist destruction from UV exposure.

The only way to design a DVD correctly is with a proper seal around the polycarbonate disc edges, and TY has that down pat. So, without proof that those gold discs come even close to TY, I’d never recommend them.

DVD+R, when read, are read like a normal DVD-ROM. I’ve heard rumors that very early DVD non-burner drives can’t read DVD+R, but most likely these drives have already failed or have been replaced (and I suspect they’re all pre-dual layer drives as well thus they can’t play most commercially released movies either).

Players, on the other hand, are completely random. Some play DVD-R and DVD+R fine, some won’t play one, some won’t play the other, some won’t play either. DVD+R has a higher success rate on DVD players that are “anti-piracy/zero tolerance” because they confuse them with “legit” DVD-ROMs.

I’m not aware of any burner that can’t do DVD+R, although they could exist, they would be very early models that predated DVD+R altogether. As with normal non-burning DVD drives, I suspect there are no surviving burners that can’t do DVD+R.

Hello from Mexico again, I wrote before (page 28)looking for advice to buy cdr’s according to some options I had; now, i’m writing again to ask you something else; after some days of search everywhere and according to your advice, I have bought cdr’s of JVC brand, they are suposedly made in Japan, so I think I got the best I could. Right?.
Now I need to buy dvd’s for data archival but where i got JVC cdrs, they just have availability for these: JVC DVD-R made in Japan, told me they are not importing DVD+R, so I have a second option, TDK DVD+R made in Taiwan; what would be a better choice from these two?, i’m in doubt because you wrote that DVD+R is better choice to keep data integrity over time, and that’s what i’m looking for.
I found some TDK contradictory rankings; you said TDK is not good in previous post, but i’ve been reading and found some sites claiming TDK is great quality, and others saying is 2nd. class media. Would you buy JVC though is not plus R media? Your valuable data would be “in good hands” for a long time with these JVC?

Thank you very very much.

Most (if not all) of TDK’s media is made by third parties. They have shipped TY and Verbatim before although they usually don’t. Most TDK “fans” have bought TY or Verbatim produced spindles, and thought TDK as good.

Buy the JVC ones. TY has purchased the JVC Media brand, and are now shipping their media products under that name. “Made In Japan” JVC spindles are fine.

I have made an update to the article to reflect the formation of the JVC Advanced Media brand.

Hi Patrick, i hope i’m not bothering you, i’d like to know if the only way to know about real TDK manufacturer would be Nero DiscSpeed, i mean, if I can only get that info checking in the computer or there are any clues outside the DVD spindle, like part number or similar info to know if they are Verbatim or Taiyo.
I ask because my predecessor here bought 3 TDK 100’s spindles and he told me he was sure they were Taiyo’s, but now that i’m using the remains of that batch, i can see the identifier is CMC MAG, AM3. What can i expect of these? How long you think they can last? Should I be getting a new batch of JVC’s to re-recorder all these TDK’s?

Thanks again.

Lots of burner software can retrieve that, but Nero will do the job. CMC MAG AM3 is sorta middle of the road in quality. Its not A-Grade like TY and Verbatim, and I wouldn’t trust them for long term storage. The TDK spindle box should say Made in China, or less likely Hong Kong or Taiwan.

I’d reburn everything onto TY as soon as possible, assuming data corruption hasn’t already occurred.

You wrote (above in paragraph 7): “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).”

I’m having a little trouble reconciling this description with what I see in the CD-Recordable FAQ document [1] (see question 2-43-2: “How do pits and lands turn into 1s and 0s? What’s EFM?”):

“The pits and lands on a CD do not directly correspond to 1s and 0s. The start and end of a pit (i.e. the pit edges) each correspond to 1s, and all other areas — both in pits and on lands — correspond to 0s. The number of zeroes between pit edges is determined through careful timing. This is an efficient approach that produces an easy to handle electrical signal (it’s NRZI — NonReturn to Zero Inverted — which converts easily to NRZ where 1s are high voltage and 0s are low voltage).”

Is the FAQ document wrong?

[1] http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/cd-recordable

I have answered this question before. The article you link to is pretty much correct. I did not feel my article needed two or three paragraphs more to describe how the pit/land encoding scheme works in heavy detail. It is rather complex and sometimes non-intuitive to those who aren’t used to how electronics are often engineered.

Pits and lands are closer to sigma delta encoding (ie, the change triggers the 1s, the lack of change triggers the 0s) than how I have described it. Many optical and over-the-wire systems are designed this way as it reduces complexity while increasing reliability.

now that TY and JVC have merged, does your recommendation still stand?

They don’t seem to have changed any from what I’ve heard.

Hi very nice article.

I have one clarification. I have a video and distribute the video to the public. I want to compare the DVD data to my original disc. Is there any software available for this?

Usually burner software itself can check the disc after it burns. Otherwise, use checksumming software to checksum all the files on the DVD. Some people use Jacksum to do this.

Hi, I just found your article and is great, really, very useful, but I have some questions, look:

Here in Mexico, I recently found cdr’s from Benq, but there are 2 types, silver color and golden color; according to your article, best should be the golden type, but in fact it is cheaper than silver. 50 golden Benq cdr’s=$7 USD, 50 silver Benq cdr’s=$8 USD. Do you know something about Benq’s quality?

Right now, is impossible to buy Verbatim’s AZO cdr’s here, but I can tell you that common Verbatim’s are poor quality, almost transparent if you see through them, and a lifespan of some months.

Can you give me some light about SONY cdr’s quality these days? I have to recommend a brand for mid term archival (let’s say around 8-10 years), Initially I proposed Verbatim UltraLife but these are very expensive and difficult to find here. I have read on the internet that Sony is a bad candidate, but most of that information is outdated.

What about Memorex? these are expensive here in comparison with Sony or Benq, but affordable. 50 Memorex cdr’s=$18 USD

I don’t recommend BenQ nor Sony nor Memorex discs at all. They’re very low quality.

It sounds like at least some of the Verbatims available in your area are not Verbatims at all, but some sort of counterfeit product. Verbatim sells no product that I know of that is thin and lasts mere months.

Patrick, thank you very much for the answer, and now I just have these options: Samsung cdr or TDK cdr or -maybe- Maxell cdr, but some co-workers are against Maxell, they say it would be bad decision too, based on their experiences. I’ll better wait to know your opinion.

I have this question too: Why do you think cdr manufacturers, or the people responsible for cdr specifications have not done yet the evolution of this media, why cdr’s are not using same manufacturing process DVD’s use? i mean the polycarbonate “sandwich” to protect the information in better way. I would pay more with no doubt if the info i’m storing is safer, and the media is not so fragile.

Thanks again and sorry for poor english.

You could try the TDK (very rarely they ship TY or Verbatim), but they’re all crap. If the discs say Made in Japan, you might have a good batch.

The CD specification details two important things: the distance between the reading surface and the data layer (as in, the thickness of the polycarbonate layer) and the total thickness of the disc.

You can’t change the thickness of the polycarbonate layer, otherwise all existing drives can no longer properly focus their optical systems. You can’t change the thickness of the disc, otherwise it won’t fit properly in many drives.

The evolution of the CD really is the DVD, thus they fixed the problem for all future media (Bluray and the defunct HD-DVD standard also do it like DVDs).

They have greatly improved the quality and composition of the sealant used to seal and protect the data layer on CDs, but it can still be damaged.

Thank you! Great info.

Michael Williams

Is it ok to write the contents on a DVD/CD with a sharpie, or will this degrade the lifespan of the disc? Thanks!

I only use normal Sanford Sharpies, disc marking Sharpies, or Verbatim branded disc marking pens.

On DVDs, you have two polycarbonate layers with the data layer sandwiched between then, so it is very unlikely you can ever damage the data by writing on it.

CDs, however, can be damaged easily because the data layer is just painted on top of the polycarbonate disc. As in, the data layer is right below the artwork. Scratching the top of the disc can lead to disc failure. This is why I avoid using CDs in almost all cases.

Hi! My name is Henry Dettmann. I found the article you wrote in 2006 very interesting.I am new with burning Discs.I took your advice and bought some DVD+R8X from TAIYO YUDEN.I have a problem,after I burn the Disc I tried to play it back but I get nothing, but if I use another brand [COSTCO] everything works fine. I am using a SONY DRX-840U burner a Sony Blu-Ray BDP S560 player and EXPRESS BURN Software.I have used NERO Software but get the same result.I have talked to SONY about my burner but they say it should work.I am trying to burn pictures.Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you. Henry Dettmann. medford4@gmail.com

Some players refuse to play burned media, and some only play certain kinds (usually +R but not -R, rarely -R but not +R).

Does your +R play back in your computer? If it does, your player sucks.

Nice article, thanks. I am not clear on the pritable surfaces. There is shiny silver for slkscreening, silver inkjet printable, silver inkjet hub printable, silver inkjet printable with hub logo, white inkjet printable, white inkjet hub printable, white inkjet printable with hub logo, then there are the thermal printables and lightscribe. I’m really just interested in the high quality, CD-R media that I can write on with a sharpy for right now. The shiny silver for silkscreening seems to be the lowest price (at least in the Verbatim datalife plus series (AZO dye). In the Taiyo Yuden, I seem to see only the JVC Taiyo Yuden media and wonder if that is the same quality. Can you enlighten me?

Thanks in advance for any help.

JEbbs

Although I’ve said otherwise before, the JVC Taiyo Yuden ones seem to be fine. They’re just branded different. I use the shiny silver thermal printable discs with a Sanford brand Sharpie and as long as you let it dry a few minutes before handling, it should never come off unless you scrape it off really hard.

However, unless you’re doing CD audio for players, I recommend you buy DVDs due to the fact they sandwich the data layer between two polycarbonate layers instead of just painting it on one side (which then can be damaged easily) like CDs do.

You are correct in that I am looking for something to play on CD audio players. I agree with you about the DVD media being better (and more econimical per byte). I just figure if I’m going to burn CDs, it isn’t that much more expensive to use quality media.

Thanks again.

Just wanted to say thank you for a most useful and informative piece of reading. I am a real non-techie but it appears by a lot of luck I have made the right choices in my archive media.

Thanks once again for this valuable reassurance!

I was wondering if there are still differences in writing quality, for archival purposes, between DVD-R and DVD+R. Also, if TY discs are not readily available in my area and online ordering is not an option, shipping kills the deal, how do I determine which Verbatim discs to buy? I know Verbatim is manufactured by many companies so which ones are the best and how to tell the differences (ie. label stating where its made or product code)? Thanks.

I still consider DVD+R superior to DVD-R.

Almost all Verbatim branded discs are either manufactured by Verbatim or TY. You can tell if it says “Made in Japan”, “Made in Taiwan”, and there are brand new discs saying “Made in UAE” that are apparently good as well. Avoid the ones that say “Made in India”, “Made in China”, or “Made in Singapore”.

By the way, shipping is not that expensive at all. SuperMediaStore gives free shipping for orders over $25 (see the links in the article above to go straight to the TY media).

impressive article about discs and stuff. i am wondering about a comment you made regarding verbatim, that if it doesn’t say “azo metal” it’s not a verbatim. there is a closeout store near me with verbatim dvd+r discs at strong prices…..they are verbatim life series 16x…made in taiwan…….on upc, it says “verbatim #97176 0912-203″ with a numerical upc code of 23942 97176……below the dvd emblem, it says “r4.7″ then below that 16x/1x…..based on your comments , could these be “non verbatim” discs that verbatim contracted out , or something else ? also, with respect to burned movies to dvd, what type of enclosure (specific brand item would be great) do you recommend to store them in, for the longest lasting “archival” quality ?

If it says Made In Taiwan its probably fine. I think Verbatim might be dropping the “Azo” verbiage from the packages.

As for what to store your discs in, just use anybody’s cases as long as the plastic feels like either what commercially sold music or commercially sold DVDs. If the plastic feels greasy, it is unsuitable.

SMS sells quite a few different kinds of cases that all fit the bill.

TY value line vs. everest certified?

You only need Everest Certified if you’re using it on an RImage Everest Thermal printer.

I do buy thermal discs, but only because you can write on them with a Sanford Sharpie and they’re cheaper than inkjet printable ones (although, on the days that inkjet printable is cheaper, I buy those).

I have visited supermediastore.com and noticed that there are Taiyo Yuden and Taiyo Yuden JVC. Is there a difference between the two?? Do you also recommend the Taiyo Yuden JVC??? or just stick with Taiyo Yuden??? I want to archive photos. Thanks in advance!!

Just stick with Taiyo Yuden

Thank you for the great article. I am looking to burn old home movies to archival quality DVDs. I went to SuperMediaStore.com and looked through their Taiyo Yuden disks but there dozens. Are all the TY DVD+R disks of the same quality? There are “Taiyo Yuden White Inkjet Hub Printable 8X DVD+R Media 100 Pack in Tape Wrap” for $0.41/disk; “JVC Taiyo Yuden Shiny Silver 16X DVD+R Media 100 Pack in Cake Box” for $0.37/disk (faster and cheaper?); “JVC Taiyo Yuden Shiny Silver Thermal 8X DVD+R Media 100 Pack in Cake Box” for $0.36/disk; et cetera. Then there are the ones where the picture shows a JVC spindle but the Taiyo Yuden name appears with it. I don’t really care what color the disk is (should I?). Also, I was expecting to pay about $1/disk for something really good. Are these really archival quality disks?

Can you give any pointers on sorting out the different types of TY disks that Super Media Store sells? Thank you very much.

I think I answered this question for you already, but the JVC branded discs seem fine.

TY branded discs,Verbatim branded Verbatim manufactured, or Verbatim branded TY manufactured discs are the only true A-grade discs as far as I can tell, JVC branded ones included.

I have been following your thread and I love it—so very much needed by so many of us! I have created a dvd (“memories”) set of special events for my brother, wife and four kids, starting from the birth of their first. They are 4-part disk sets for each event (Our video, our photos, their video and their photos, and we “now” only use dvds (no cds for photos) but we have been using TY 16x DVD-R (white, inkjet hub printable), not DVD+R disks. All are stored in a plastic 4-disk dvd case). The dvd cases are White in color (as opposed to standard black) and each has a graphic art composite of photos and the like in the slip-in sheath part of the case. Black color for the case is probably better, but cases are not kept in direct light of any kind, and I have made three sets, each kept at a different location. All is also stored on two hard drives, and two backup drives. My husband burns all the videos (he has pretty good equipment I understand but don’t ask me what that is) and I use Nero Express to burn the photos to disk.
Oh, I should tell you too that the on-line chat rep at supermediastore.com told me (given all the info above) he suggested that we purchase the “JVC” Taiyo Yuden (Premium Line) 8x DVD-R white inkjet, hub-printable, disks, because they don’t “carry” any Taiyo Yuden 16x in a “premium line” which he says is superior. We, as mentioned before, have always used the 16x (NOT the value line but the one they say is for “general purpose), by Taiyo Yuden, until our last purchase when my husband bought the Linkyo Taiyo Yuden’s (which someone convinced him was as good as the ones that were sold just as “Taiyo Yuden” 16x DVD-R white……”

Okay, now that you know all the particulars, here are my questions:
1. I know you prefer the DVD+R over the DVD-R disks, but since I cannot find Taiyo Yuden DVD+R in 16X (only 8X) that are inkjet, white hub-printable disks, do you think the TY DVD-R’s in 16X are okay to use for the purpose of recording data you hope these young kids can visualize in some fashion 35-50 years from now? I realize this is a very subjective question, but I hoping you will take a stab at answering it anyway. I know you say to keep checking the data to make sure it is not disappearing and re-record very few years using better technology, but this might be too much of a daunting task, given the amount of disks we are burning (we already have burned 120 disks and they kids are only 5, and each disk as printed graphics on it too).
2. Do you think there is any problem with storing them in the white plastic (I cannot find info as to whether this plastic is “acid-free”) 4-disk dvd cases (the cases themselves are kept in upright clear, acrylic dvd case holders and again we have 3 sets (one stored in a an entertainment cabinet in house, a closet in another and in a bedroom corner on the floor out of direct light in another house).

I so hope you read this and can respond. Your insight is invaluable to us!

Theres nothing wrong with getting discs in 8x if 16x aren’t available. It only effects write speed, not read speed.

You seem to have several sets of this data, but I suggest you also keep one off-site, such as in a bank safety deposit box.

Where did you buy the cases? I’m not aware of Supermediastore selling any cases that can damage discs. I prefer black as it keeps light out, but as long as as the plastic doesn’t have a greasy or wet feeling, you should be fine. It should feel like and look like a commercially sold DVD movie’s case.

Thanks for responding Patrick. I believe my husband purchased the white 4-disk dvd cases on eBay. 4-disk hard cases are hard to find in white. I cannot find any ad for any kind of hard plastic disk case that even comments on whether or not the plastic is “acid-free.” And certainly the ebay ad doesn’t state that either. I have written to the ebay seller and asked the question—no response as of yet (just wrote to him this AM, however); my guess is he will say he doesn’t know. The plastic does not have any greasy or wet feeling to it, so I guess I won’t worry about it. It does look and feel like the standard black cases you see, only they are white.

As for your response about 8x vs. 16x, my concern is my husband (who is presently out of town) won’t like burning disks at a much slower rate, so that is why I was hoping the 16x in the DVD-R (Taiyo Yuden) would be satisfactory for our needs. But if you really feel the DVD+R is far superior for our purposes, then maybe he’ll just have to suck it up (hahaha) in terms of taking more time to burn the disks.

My rule with burning speeds typically works like this: For TY and Verbatim media, I burn at the highest speed listed on the box. For lesser grade media, I burn at the next speed down (so, 8x is burned at 6 or 4).

For any drive by any manufacturer, I burn at the next lower speed, so if it is a 16x drive, I burn at 12x or 8x.

It does not take much time to burn at 8x, so the difference between 16x and 8x isn’t huge.

Oh, one more thing, the bank safety deposit box is a good idea, but it would have to be a very large safety deposit box, and at some point, and I would guess it won’t be too much longer where these wouldn’t fit into any safety deposit box due to size restrictions. We already have 40 of these cases, and that is growing every couple of months. The three sets we do have are not kept in one house, they are kept in three completely different locations, so that in event of fire or some other peril at one location, the others would still be in tact. We are hoping that will provide some safety net anyway.

If you already have them at other locations, its unlikely all will be lost at the same time. Just make sure they are kept in dry room temperature areas. Disc life is shortened if they get above 85f or are kept in humid air or get wet.

I am so very sorry to write again, but I should clarify something. Taiyo Yuden DOES have 16X DVD+R (at supermediastore.com), BUT they don’t have Taiyo Yuden disks marked “premium line;” they only have what is called “premium line” in the disks branded under the name of “JVC” (Taiyo Yuden) 8x DVD-R, and this supermediastore online chat guy said those are the disks he would recommend, not the DVD+R and not the 16x or 8x Taiyo Yuden disks either because they don’t say premium on them (just “general purpose). But I believe you also wrote previously that it is best NOT to buy disks that Taiyo Yuden supposedly manufacturers but is being sold under other brand names — as those other companies may buy in bulk and then repackage them and that may be risky in terms of the disks integrity (at least if I understood your previous posts correctly). So, in short, I can buy Taiyo Yuden white, inkjet hub printable, 16x DVD+R disks at supermediastore.com. They are now being shown as “out of stock” but you can see what I mean at this link: http://www.supermediastore.com/product/u/taiyo-yuden-16x-dvd-plus-r-media-white-inkjet-hub-printable-100-pack?max=15&search=DVD%2BR&offset=30

Thanks so much again. Sorry if I am being a pain and using up too much space!

The salesman from SMS may be confused. TY does not sell DVD+R labeled “premium line” because they _only_ sell DVD+R in premium line. They are manufactured and graded in a process identical to premium line DVD-R.

Are you saying that the TY DVD+R product sold in the above link is, then, “premium line,” DVD+R, even though in the writeup it says “for general purpose”? If so, that certainly explains the salesman’s confusion (or, more appropriately, lack of knowledge).

Yes. TY already considers DVD+R perfect for both uses.

Thanks much. We will be buying the TY 16x DVD+R from now on. Very much appreciate your assistance. Too bad supermediastore’s salespeople/online chat persons don’t have your knowledge. Why aren’t you on THEIR payroll, or better still, TY’s payroll?

Neither have offered me a job. Yet.

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