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

What exactly is “bit rot?” In your responses to those wanting to keep files on an external hard drive, you mention bit rot as a possible threat to data stored on such devices.

Thanks for your thorough explaination of storage media.

MS

Bit rot is where the data you write to a storage device is not the same data you read back after an extended period.

Bit rot can happen easily on any device that is “write many” (vs non-RW disc media being “write once”), so this includes hard drives and flash media. Disc media can also bit rot, but it is typically at a much lower rate when you buy quality media.

Put a TY DVD, a flash drive, and a hard drive in a vault for 20 years, the DVD will very likely have no unrecoverable errors, the flash drive may have gone completely blank, and the hard drive may or may not have unrecoverable errors.

However, this does not mean you cannot use hard drives for archiving data. Large always online storage arrays periodically check for bit rot and can survive hardware failure and some also have realtime offsite backup with another array somewhere else.

Using tapes is also another alternative if you don’t need always online access (such as for backups of medium to large data sets). Enterprise quality tapes, although being rewritable, resist change when being archived similar to that of quality disc media.

One more question:

Has anyone researched the “probability” time, when a CD or DVD is no longer usable? It seems a bit premature to “guarantee” an age, say 50 years, when DVDs have been on the market for less than 20 years. Have the DVDs you recommend been “stress tested,” to imitate any changes over a period of time?

Also, is there a clear warranty with any of the media you recommend?

They artificially stress test them using chambers that can increase temperature, increase air pressure, and bathe the discs in UV light.

They can do 50 years of damage in hours.

Also, all disc media is very similar. CDs have been on the commercial market for 30 years, and people still have the first music CDs from 1979 and they still play.

There is a warranty, but it wouldn’t help much. If the disc is defective, then you lose your data. They can’t get your data back.

Hi – Thank you fro writing your article about archival DVD media. I am currently researching which DVDs will best fit my needs to make the best archival quality copies of home video for myself and customers for a potential video-transfer business. I’m learning from scratch, and I appreciate your recommendation for DVD+R Taiyo Yuden discs. However, I am interested in getting a LightScribe burner to be able to label and apply images to discs…does Taiyo Yuden have a disc to fit this need or am I limited to LightScribe products? If LightScribe discs are my only option, can you offer any information regarding the archival quality of of the LightScribe discs (they are gold-colored, but are they really gold?), any dyes or chemicals associated with the etching process, and the coatings? Any advice regarding permanent labeling of discs with or without LightScribe that would be professional in appearance? I very much appreciate it! Thank you.

TY does not make Lightscribe discs that I know of, Verbatim does however. I’ve seen Lightscribe discs up front, and I don’t like the look of them.

To do it professionally, I’d probably buy a dedicated color thermal disc printer and use TY thermal printable discs; however, this is a mildly expensive option.

You can also use TY inkjet printable discs in a printer that has a disc tray or use a dedicated printer, but it isn’t as professional looking.

As for archival, Lightscribe discs are not gold, and I don’t remember them looking gold on either side. Lightscribe uses layer similar to the data layer, but it faces upwards and Lightscribe drives use the laser to write the picture onto the layer. It works the same as if you were writing data to it.

I am an amateur age 80. I have old VHS’s of my Family life that I would like to convert to an archival quality (50+ years) disc (Costco uses a gold color disc that they say is such??).

I have checked out your 2006 recommendation through SuperMediaStore.com, and find at
$35.99, Taiyo Yuden Shiny Silver Thermal 8X DVD+R Media 100 Pack in Cake Box

I notice that the disc is not gold color: perhaps that doesn’t matter?

Since you wrote your article in 2006, and updated another area in 2009, would you still
recommend I use the Taiyo Yuden shown above? Or do you recommend a DL (and if so,
which/where?

I am most grateful for your assistance.
DV

I do not recommend any Gold DVD products as they are not proven to last longer than Taiyo Yuden. I do not recommend anything Costco has either, I’m pretty sure they’re not reselling Taiyo Yuden or Verbatim.

TY currently sells a DL product, but not under their own brand.

If you need DL, use Verbatim’s.

Please, just one more question: since I don’t know the difference between a
DL product and Taiyo Yuden Shiny Silver Thermal 8X DVD+R Media. And I appreciate that
Costco and gold are not the way to go. Also, I now get that +R is better than -R, but where does DL come into all of this?

Will you kindly recommend what you consider the better choice for my purposes stated above: TY’s Shiny Silver Thermal 8X DVD+R Media OR some DL product? If you suggest
DL, where can such be bought and what should I look for?

Many thanks,
DV

Well, it depends. In your case, you’d probably be producing 8GB worth of video to maximize quality of the transfer (although, since its on VHS, the quality will not be that great to begin with), which means you use DL, which is dual layer. Its simply how much the disc holds, as in, twice as much over a normal disc.

DL can be found in -R and +R form, but if you can’t find +R DL, its not a big issue. SuperMediaStore does sell Verbatim DL, which is what I use when I absolutely need a DL disc.

On normal storage (such as backing up music, or photos, or other things smaller than 4GB a piece), I use normal single layer +R discs, it is not worth the expense since DL are rather expensive.

In your case, I can easily see using DL.

I also want to transfer family VHS to DVDs and achieve superb quality. I have a Sony DVD Direct VRD-MC3 and hope that it will do the job. I am concerned with the number of single DVD+R discs that it will take to record so I’m interested to read recommendations about using DL dics. I am seeking the highest quality disc available.

At what level of recording less than HQ, which gives only 1 hour on a single or 2 hrs on DL, not show compromised and perceptible degradation of quality to the transfer from VHS to DVD?

What brand does TY sell its DL disc under? TY quality seems to be the best way to go so I would like to stick with TY.

Are there flaws, problems in using DL other than the added expense? I read that there is a pause? Is that still true?

Can the DVD+R be copied onto a Mac for ediitng? Then I would recopy onto a new disc.

Thank you.

TY sells DL under their brand, but it doesn’t look like SuperMediaStore carries it. Buy Verbatim brand instead, in a lot of cases Verbatim just resells TY although their own media is also top notch.

If you’re encoding video for DVD players, trying to put more than 2 hours of video on a DL DVD usually causes bad degradation, and on bad quality sources like VHS it really shows up.

There are no other problems with using DL other than the cost (which is about the cost of 4 or 5 single layer discs). The pause issue is with the player not the medium itself: early generation DVD players would pause when switching layers, which is visible on all commercially produced movie titles if your player suffers from it.

The pause itself is less than a second, and most people never noticed it anyhow. It only happens when switching between layers.

I do not recommend copying discs to edit them. Unlike simply duplicating a disc, this will incur a quality loss. Re-encoding anything from a source that uses “lossy” encoding, such as DVDs/Blurays, JPGs, and almost every compressed music format will result in quality loss.

I have been buying TY DVD-R from SMS (Linko) for years. Never had a problem with either the discs or the store.
I have probably burned 10,000 discs in the last 5 years and the only problem I ever had was my fault.
I highly recommend both Super Media Store and Taiyo Yuden.
I’m going to start using +R from now on.

Why would anyone buy CDs/DVDs when 500G HDs are going for $75?

Because hard drives are still susceptible to bit rot, and they are also susceptible to mechanical damage.

In addition, a stack of 10 single layer bluray discs can hold more.

The only reason to use hard drives if you have constant synchronizing off-site storage to prevent data loss on very large data sets, I don’t believe in hard drives for storage of personal data, too much can go wrong.

Hi,
I want to archive my very Old music collection on this DVD+R or CD-R by TY. Does the DVD or CD recognize the data as music files v/s photos v/s any other data?
Thnks for a great article.
best
raj

No, they don’t recognize anything. All they store is computer data, they don’t have different methods for different kinds.

There, however, is one exception: Audio CDs produced to have sound on normal everyday CD players. This not include discs filled with MP3s or other kinds of music files.

Very informative article –
I produce a lot of performance DVDs that parents want as archival discs – occasionally, for longer shows, I produce a 2-disc set, but I’d prefer to use a DL disc, if they’d last as long, archivally.
I’ve read that DL discs inherently have much lower reflectivity percentages for both layers than single layer discs, leading to lesser longevity – your thoughts, experiences?

The reflectivity issue is usually brought up by people who don’t understand how DVDs are read. Technically it can become an issue if the disc becomes scratched or dirty (as in, the effect will be a little worse), however just using DL DVDs in general won’t cause a problem.

Although I am greatly simplifying how DVD reading works, basically the laser is bounced off the disc surface and the read sensor only picks up on the light that is still focused. Dirt and scratches defocus the light.

The system “looks past” scratches and dirt using this focusing method, and to read multiple layers it has two different focus settings; neither focus setting can see the other layer, and the layers are designed not to interfere with reads for the other layer.

I think this worry originated from early generation commercially produced DL discs having lots of unrelated problems, which is why many early titles are either SL or double sided.

As far as I can tell, the lower reflectivity would cause issues if they had made triple or more layer DVDs.

1. Hopefully not to dumb a question – since supermediastore.com sells TY DVD+R 8X media in shiny silver, white – inkjet printable, and silver – inkjet printable versions, is it preferable to get one of the inkjet versions in order to be able to use a “Sharpie” permanent marker to identify what’s on the disk or is the standard laquer coating of the “shiny” (cheaper) suitable for this type of marking.
2. Is there any way to credit you for using supermediastore.com to purchase TY media as a way of showing my appreciation for all the information you have provided?
Thank you

I use thermal printable shiny silver discs with Sharpies. Just make sure you let the writing dry first otherwise you can smudge it/scrape it off accidentally. Inkjet surfaces tend to blot a little, so the writing comes out a lot thicker.

If you want to credit me, the links in my article automatically track sales.

Disclaimer: I link to SMS because they’re worth doing business with, and I do frequent business with them and they’re basically the only cheap vendor of TY discs in the US I trust.

I have been using a Plextor PX-716A for 4 years now, and have never had a coaster. I do a lot of research before buying anything important, and I can’t remember the differences between the various Plextor models…but I did buy the 716A for some reason 🙂
My research at the time gave me the impression that Plextor is (was) the Rolls Royce of burners.
Can’t speak to the Samsungs – I haven’t researched them.
Cheers,
Scott
PS: Thanks for all the hard work and good advice that you are sharing with us all !!

Unfortunately, Plextor is no longer the Rolls Royce. They stopped producing their own burners during the PX-800 series and never came back to it. The 700 series was the last Plextors worth owning, I even owned one myself until it finally died after 5 years.

I replaced it with two Samsungs.

Thank you so much for spending the time to help all of us. I am interested in keeping photos safe. I am currently finishing up a 400 page biography on my father with lots of photos in it. I have been saving it (repeatedly – almost daily) on a Maxell DVD+RW. I recently started using a new one, thinking that the repeated saves might not be good over and over. I didnt know until a few days ago that there was any such thing as “archival” disks. I will purchase as you have recommended and resave off of my hard drive.
Question: What does the word “coasting” mean? Thanks again. elease

I prefer not to use CD-RW/DVD-RW media because it can bitrot rather easily due to it’s nature of being able to change.

CD-R should survive a few hundred and DVD-RW a few thousand writes before it starts having serious integrity problems under normal (temporary) usage.

Coaster, n., a bad burn, something to sit drinks on.

Great article. I’m currently using TDK ‘Gold’ DVD+R & DVD-R’s (made in Taiwan) burned on a Philips burner.

After a number of Coasters and after reading this I am rethinking. Thanks for a great article 🙂

Elease, when you burn a CD/DVD and it fails what do you then do with the disk? I use it to put my coffee cup on, protecting the table from coffee rings. Hence the name ‘coaster’ 🙂 I personally also use them to scare the birds off my seedlings or make ‘arty’ (I use that word loosely!) montages on the wall. But tradition is that you use them under coffee cups as coasters.

Before switching to hard drive archival (raid 1+0 or 5+1), we must improve our archival system. So switching to the just discovered brand of TY (MAM too expensive).

The hardware has also been covered a bit here.

But what about the SOFTWARE??
People asked the question allready but didn’t get any response.
I need to know the best for both Mac and PC.
Mac -> I guess it’s Toast?
PC -> Roxio (also) or Nero??

Another thing that hasn’t been covered here is the burning speed.
CDs burnt at lower speed seem to be more stable than a CD burnt at 52X for example. It seems to be true everywere.. The slower you get the work done, the more you can do it perfectly.

Thanks for coming feedback on these questions!

Software isn’t really a big issue as long as it works properly.

Macs have burning software built into OSX, and PC users often use anything from Nero to CDBurnerXP. Linux users use cdrecord/wodim in combination with other programs.

The speed of the disc should be burnt at the speed it says on the box it came in. Burning it significantly slower can damage the disc, burning it faster can damage the disc.

There is obviously wiggle room here, burning at 8x on a 16x disc is totally fine.

Burning at super slow speeds is a myth and can actually cause complete burn fails on modern CD-R media burned at below 24x.

Most software selects an appropriate speed automatically and usually should be trusted when it falls within those rules.

I know OSX has Disk Utility to burn, but it can’t do everything neither.. I was asking for Mac because working on OS9 and I only know Toast. So software does not have any influence on the quality of the burning process?

Well, at the beginning of 42X burners and compatible media, I got a lot of errors burning at high speed (media used: TDK, Maxell and Verbatim). But if burning was ok, a couple of years later, we had a lot of redundancy check errors on those burnt at 42X.

So we did a test with identical data burnt at 16X and 42X. A couple of years later, no errors for the 16X ones, but maybe 10% of the 42X suffered from redundancy check errors.

So I don’t call this a myth but experienced reality. Maybe things have changed now, I don’t know. But it sure isn’t a myth, and I wasn’t the only one having the same issues (different media, different writer).

And about writing at speed that’s written on the box. Well, usually there is written “up to 52X” or “1X-16X compatible”. I’m not an expert in this but couldn’t it be like cars and bikes? Driving at a certain speed while your rpm needle just can’t go any further and just drive miles and miles like that isn’t very good neither. Is it wise to push things to their maximum capabilities?

No one uses classic MacOS anymore, so can’t really recommend anything. If Toast works for you, use it.

Software only needs to be able to check the disk after burning (which you should always do to make sure the burn was actually correct).

As for your 42x failures, it sounds like either the media was never rated for 42x, or your drive(s) weren’t rated for 42x. Drive manufacturers of cheap drives often do this to sell off old hardware, they simply change the firmware to make it think it can do it.

Drives that have unusually high jitter will produce high speed burns that eventually fail… but this is why I don’t use drives that are known to do that.

Now, some people do shortcut the entire issue and burn at one speed lower (ie, 4x/6x for 8x media, 8x/12x for 16x media, 36x for 48/52x media) in hopes of artificially reducing jitter, but I’ve never tested if this has a significant improvement.

But in your case, it really sounds like either problems with the drive or with the media, and its most likely the drive.

I have frequently recommended to people that they don’t use laptop or slim drives and they don’t use excessively loud ones normal drives. Both will often produce burns that eventually fail.

Thanks for the info.
(just, about the 42X related errors, I wasn’t the only one to notice that problem. But indeed, it was the beginning of 42X and the hardware is always chosen after comparing/reading reviews/etc.., so maybe the errors came from one of the things you described above.

So, nowadays, to have the best results, one should choose automatic burn speed to optimize results?

Yes. The drive actually makes the suggestion to the software, so sometimes you’ll have drives that can do what the media claims it can, but choose a lower speed. I wouldn’t try to override that… I would only override if it suggests a speed higher than what the media claims.

Now that I have obtained good quality DVD discs (TY), what type of jewel case should I use to keep the DVD slideshows that I create?
Ken Riesberg
Mesa, Arizona

SuperMediaStore sells jewel cases that are suitable for the task. Any black plastic works as long as its not oily (a sign of poorly constructed plastic). The kind you purchase with commercially sold music or DVDs work great.

The blue transparent plastic used for Blurays is also fine, but I don’t see it used in anything but Bluray cases.

What about DVD-RAM for archiving? I though it had superior error correction.

There is no way to make DVD-RAM permanent. Due to the nature of the media, it can be changed, or it can just bitrot. Although, in DVD-RAM’s favor, they survive more write cycles than a DVD-RW will, they just won’t retain data as long as DVD+R.

Thanks for extensive article.

How does Taiyo Yuden stack up against these numbers from Matsui?

http://www.mam-a.com/

” New Lifetime Test results:
Expected Lifetime:
MAM-A Gold Archive CD-R: 329 years
MAM-A Gold Archive DVD-R: 116 years
Longest lifetime of any optical media.”

Thanks,
Borus

Many years ago MAM was a single company, before it split into MAM-A and MAM-E. MAM produced great media on par with TY and Verbatim, but when they split, neither of the resulting companies produced media that was any good.

The MAM-A gold media is produced in conjunction with Kodak, but doesn’t seem to exceed TY quality in my opinion.

Patrick,
I respect your opinion since you have spent so much time researching these issues. However, I am troubled by phrases like “doesn’t seem to” when reference to hardnosed laboratory comparisons would be far more convincing. Do you have any hard data?

Thanks,
Borus

The real problem is MAM-A has no hard data they are willing to share.

If I’m going to shell out $2+ per disc (which is how much these gold DVD-Rs cost), then I expect the discs to have a considerable lifetime increase over TY DVD+Rs (which I pay less than 50 cents a piece for).

MAM-A says they last over 100 years in their marketing material, TY says they last over 100 years in their marketing material.

TY produces the most disc media of any company (including both commercially pressed media and burnable media) and have been doing it longer than MAM-A has (even if you include MAM’s reign before they split).

I’m not saying MAM-A’s gold media doesn’t work, I’m saying that it isn’t worth 4x more than TY’s when both company’s media will probably last just as long as each other and TY has a much longer record for quality.

Thanks for the information (just what I was looking for concerning DVD media).

Use DVD+R media from TY for archieving / backup – got it!

Questions –
1. Do you know why the TY DVD-R media is much cheaper than the TY DVD+R media (just curious)?
2. How much impact does the DVD drive have on the longetivity of the data on the DVD? I.E. does using the drive on my laptop (mfg unknown at this time) to archieve my pictures result in less archieve time than using the Samsung drive on my desktop (does the laptop drive “burn” less, or is the intensity of the “burn” process part of the specification that all capable drives must adhere to).
3. What format do you recommend for archieving on CDs (CD-R, which I thought was more compatable with existing drives, or CD+R)?

Thanks again

1) DVD+R costs more because less of it is sold per year.

2) Typically most DVD burners don’t suck anymore. I prefer using a Samsung, but largely it doesn’t matter as long as the drive is actually functioning. If it produces a lot of coasters regardless of media brand, the drive is defective.

I don’t use laptop or external drives because I’m worried about unintentional vibrations causing problems.

3) CD+R doesn’t exist, so TY’s CD-R is fine.

I have found it difficult getting reliable disks, it seems that memorex tdk sony all have problems after a short while, I have 2 BenQ Gold cds and after 10 years they are still fine but have found it impossible here in ireland to get, you recommend shiny silver laquer disks from
TAIYO YUDEN I noticed that the site you recommended to get them is in the usa looking for a supplier in ireland or uk can you help

thanks

I’m not aware of a good vendor in the UK.

Please suggest a DVD for recording music.

I assume you’re archiving recordings of multi-track, multi-channel, and/or higher than normal fidelity (such as 24-bit and/or 96/192khz) sound.

Normal TY DVD+Rs are perfect for this.

If you’re producing music for sale to be played back on normal CD audio players, you really want to contract with someone to do a limited run of pressed CDs.

I just purchased some Taiyo Yuden DVD+R discs. I have a HPdvd 1270.
The discs record just fine, but when copying data from CDs in a multisession, I can only get 348 MB copied onto the disc.

What could be the problem as the capacity of a DVD is around 4.3GB?

Sounds like a problem with the software, not the hardware or the discs.

As a member of the Bosque County Historical Commission, I am concerned about the virtues and facts about using old-fashioned microfilm versus archival (TY brand?) CD-R for our county newspapers? The digital CD-R’s are so much faster to search and I wonder how much longer microfilm readers will be available and/or serviced? I’m a strong proponent of digital data formats but librarians seem to prefer the microfilm media. Your non-binding opinion or comment would be appreciated.

The problem with microfilm is that its dying out. I’d be afraid of having a bunch of microfilm and all my microfilm viewing machines die on me and no one makes them anymore.

If you’re doing something library sized, you’d use optical media as your actual archival media and have several computers with large RAID arrays to store the data so everyone can use it without ever touching the optical media.

Even if they wanna keep microfilm, they still need something accessible so the microfilm is never taken out of the vault.

If I understand this correctly (at a lay person’s level), the long-term deterioration of optical media is due to chemical degradation. As the rate of chemical processes is temperature-dependent, wouldn’t it be possible to extend the lifespan of whatever disc you are using simply by keeping your archival copies in a freezer?

Some large scale media storage vaults do keep the temperature below room temperature. The average person can’t because freezers and refrigerators would cause degradation in the media due higher humidity. Even keeping them in sealed plastic bags, the seals will eventually degrade.

Room temperature without excessive humidity seems to be the closest we can get.

Thank you so much for your input! It’s helped me a lot. I googled Taiyo Yuden DVD+R… the one you recommend and I found “TAIYO YUDEN DVD+R/8X/08 SILVER THERMAL LACQUER 100pk” for only $39.99. Is this a good deal or is it too good to be true? All I want to do is save my personal photos for a long time. Please let me know if this is a good fit for me. Thank you!!!

Andi

Andi, order through the SuperMediaStore link in my article. They’re selling it for that price, and I’ve personally confirmed SMS sells real TY media.

I use “Shiny Silver” thermal lacquer disks myself, they’re great for cheap archival storage if you don’t want to inkjet print on them.

Thank you for taking the time to write & that and explain things.

I want to use a double layered disk to get the quality of the movie the best I can. I can see the difference between -R and -RDL. However I am having lots of coasters with the only printable medium I know of-RiDATA. Can you recommend another DL printable disk? Should I consider +RDL instead of -RDL?

Thanks,

Art

Verbatim sells DL inkjet printable DVD-R and DVD+R.

You should consider +R with the book type hack to maximize playing with stand alone players if thats an issue for you.

I just noticed that Saitech Online (www.esaitech.com) is apparently still selling Plextor PX-716 drives. I notice there are several PX-716 models (PX-716A SW, PX-716AL, PX-716SA and so on…), are they all the same thing at the core? I’m assuming its best to get an internal version rather than a IEEE 1394/Hi-Speed USB external version. (Saitech Online is the only vender of this drive I have found, anyone know of another?) The PX-716 hasn’t been manufactured for a while, so I was wondering if it is smarter at this point to go with the PX-716 or to instead buy a newer drive.

Thanks

Just buy a SATA Samsung like the one I link to.

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