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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Transmissions from the Little Blue Marble

Published October 30th, 2006

Comments

1,249 Responses

u so obviously know what you’re talking about (though it really extends a bit beyond my ability to fully comprehend)

I’ve finished a protools (audio recording) project and would like to archive/protect the sessions. Would love your suggestions; I’ve scoured the internet, called gov’t preservation organizations and asked around. And I am still undecided

From what I’ve researched, hard drives don’t seem reliable.

Gold DVD’s were suggested.

someone even suggested printing the sessions into data and then storing that in paper form (that is sooo beyond my understanding)

But after reading your article I am thinking: JVC DVD +R in DVD style black acid free polypro cases….and re done every 4 years or so

and then maybe an online storage like carbonite to protect just in case there’s some kind of natural disaster in this area? or would you suggest dvd’s sent to another part of the country?

(I already have an external hard drive to which my computer including the sessions…. is backed up)

you can tell I am obviously not technically astute…so any of your help would be wonderful. thanks!

Online storage is frequently used in addition to DVD+Rs nowadays. A lot of people think archival means just make one copy and throw it in a safe, but its not. More copies in different places means more chances of data survival.

Storing the project along with par2 files to detect and correct data corruption is extremely useful. Windows and OSX and Linux all have tools to handle par2 error correction easily.

So you agree that dvd’s are better than external hard drives?

do you have any preferences in online companies?

forgive me for my lack of understanding, but are par2 files already on windows?

finally, I had tried signing up for your feed but had trouble. I’d like to receive your updates…best way? do you have an email list?

Out of all the sources I’ve contacted, you are the one I trust the most….thank you for your generosity…:)

I don’t like magnetic media because they are designed for change and are easy to damage and are largely self-destructive.

I don’t have a preference in online companies for cloud storage. Just don’t rely on them as your only backup method.

Windows doesn’t come with a par2 client. I’m not a Windows person, but a lot of people seem to be using QuickPar.

What RSS client are you using to try to subscribe to my feed? I don’t have an email list because the RSS feed alone seems to suffice.

By now, you’ve probably realized my lack of knowledge in this area …this is a new computer with windows 7 and ie and I access your rss feed thru ie…this is the error message I get:

Internet Explorer cannot display this feed

This feed contains code errors.
Go back to the previous page.

More information

Invalid xml declaration.
Line: 2 Character: 3

<rss version="2.0"

Because MSIE can’t handle RSS feeds at all. Use a dedicated feed reader, or use something like Google Reader.

QuickPar is a program (free) that will enable you to make parity files of variable percentages (to your own liking or confidence level — whether you store your files on HDD or disks) to correct corruption.

I’ve used it for years on all files that I value and it will give you a lot of confidence in your stored data.

I recommend that you download and learn how to use the program immediately and while you’re doing that, you can read and learn how parity files work.

You’ll find QuickPar will give you a much greater confidence in your stored data and as Patrick recommended, use Taiyo Yuden. They have the best reputation in the world. Using QuickPar with them will simply give you added comfort that your data, even if partially corrupted, will be recoverable and therefore safe.

As he also recommended, NEVER trust one backup. There’s not only corruption to deal with but disaster and theft. I would never trust my data solely to ANY COMPANY in the “cloud.”

Okay. now you’ve scared me. I know so little about ‘cloud’…online storage. Is it something I can trust? some of the info is sensitive….

what’s the way you back up and archive files?

thank you both for your generosity and willingness to help someone who’s so unwise in this subject.

I will read up on Quickpar…I might have questions…again, thank you so much!!!

If you’re worried about people spying on you, just encrypt it before uploading and burning.

I would probably recommend TrueCrypt, it allows you to create TrueCrypt volumes that are just a large file image (a “container”), and then you can just burn the image itself to the disc.

It isn’t the easiest thing to use, but it works for a lot of people.

again, thank you!

I’ve done some research on Quickpar and I’m a little confused. There’s little on it after 2009; references point to usenet and winrar…

I’m hoping to work with 80 gb to archive; it won’t be in a winrar format…

Once I download quickpar will it be self explanatory to work with reg files (thes files will hve the extension: ptf)

sorry to belabor this …I’m sure you can tell I hve very little knowledge in this area and much seems like another language…many thanks.

Usenet typically rars large files so they can upload the file using multi-part rar files (1.2mb or so chunks).

This is unneeded for what you’re doing. par2 supports lists of files instead of just one, you can use it that way (as I do here on Linux).

par2-ing the entire 80gb set only makes sense if you intend on burning the entire thing on a set of discs (ie, numbered discs that require restoring from the entire set at once).

The side effect of burning a set of discs is if you lose one and have more than 6gb of par2 files on the other remaining discs, you can restore the data lost on that disc in it’s entirety.

It is somewhat common to burn disc sets where each disc is half files half par2. Using rar makes it easy to split sets of files across multiple discs, but as I said, most people don’t (unless they have individual files that exceed the size of one disc, anyways).

it must take patience to constantly field questions from someone having little understanding. thank you so much!

Dear Mr. McFarland, Your article was very helpful. I’m looking for the best way to make duplicates of a DVD. I was looking around, hoping to find a commercial place that would use Taiyo Yuden DVD+R blanks to make the copies. I was surprised to learn that for 1000 copies ( which I am looking for )the place I was talking to ( NWMEDIA in Portland Oregon )would press the duplicates so the DVD+ or – issue didn’t matter. Is this typical ? Are pressed DVDs inherently more archival than any kind of burnt DVDs?

George Layne – Philadelphia

Pressed are considered superior to burned. Also, when they press DVDs, they’re not -R or +R, they’re just DVDs, the same kind you buy movies on. Companies that press discs use whatever they have chosen, sometimes its TY sometimes its some other high quality media. I would trust them on whichever choice they’ve made.

Based on everything you have written (which is excellent BTW) it would seem at this point in time DVD+R is the best available archive format vs CD-R. And that the TY disks are still the best. I have used MAM-A CD-R on and off and lately ran into some quality control issues with disks failing the verify step. Another issue is size variability. I use a Microboard disk publisher and due to the way it loads disks they were jamming (MAM-A). MAM-A disks of late tend to have a bit of a ridge and this catches. Also the disks run about 120.3 millimeters (used a micrometer) vs TY that seem to always run 120 mm. It seems others have also run into issues once I started calling around. We have to ensure disks are readable for 25 + years. Not that a drive will exist in 25 years that can read them. 🙂

Yeah, I’ve said this before, but ever since MAM split into MAM-A and MAM-E, the resulting products have been pretty low grade. Although I’m surprised they botched it enough that the disc gets stuck. As far as I know, discs have to be within 0.1 mm of the 120mm requirement, so I wonder why DVD6C (the DVD patent pool and licensing group) haven’t smacked them around yet.

Just read you updated articles. There were very good and gave me some very useful information about Cd’s and DVDs media. I looked up the Samsung SH-s222ab, SATA DVD writers. I found a couple other Samsung models. One is a SH-S223L, a SH-S223Q and a SH-S223F. Can you tell me more about these or do you still standby the SH-S222AB? Thanks for you reply.

Underneath they’re all the same model. Some are SATA, some are IDE, some have Lightscribe, some don’t, and every time they re-certify it for a new top speed, they change the letter. All the SH-S222 and SH-S223 I treat mostly identical

Sorry if this subject was discussed before, but I can’t find a search function on your blog.
3 questions:
1. What do you think as Blue-ray disks as archives?

2. I know you are a TY fan and also had specific recommendations in regards to writers, but on TY DVD-R disks written 4 yrs ago (bought from SMS) I get terrible readings with discSpeed (PIF from 30s to 2-300, PIE much higher)
I burned them with a NEC 3520AW that died in the meantime. Do you think the reason for the bad readings is the now-defunct burner? what is funny is that some Verbatim DVD-Rs burned around the same time have much better readings now (PIF 3-4 and PIE <100). These are photo archives that were burned and never touched again till now, kept in the dark 🙂 . I wish I tested them at that time too, for comparison; all of them have been marked with Sharpie for DVD marker.

3. do you think I should burn the above named archives on new DVD+Rs or am I safe? The files are still perfectly readable. Should I avoid writing archive DVDs with the Lite-On BD writer (iHBS112) that I have now?

Thanks

I’ve updated the article to explain how PIE/PIF scans work.

Unless your NEC drive was defective I doubt that it was the problem. I don’t care for Lite-On drives, however, so if you’re trying to perform PIE/PIF scans on a Lite-On the results are questionable.

I still won’t put my rubber stamp on Bluray media, even TY’s, until a few more years have passed. Not enough people are buying them and testing them for archival to get a good sense of how well they’re working.

Dear Patrick,

I would first like to say what an impressive and lucid description and analysis your article was and how very helpful, especially to this total novice and obviously to many others of all levels of expertise. I just think we need more of this kind of patience and clarity to demystify what is a very challenging field. This is someone who doesn’t even drive a car, but you have given me some confidence and steered me in a good direction for what DVD’s t use by sharing your experience and expertise. Finally to my question! I have forty years of Kodak slides (maybe 30,000) and I would like in my retirement to transfer them to DVD’s. I have an iMac of three years vintage. But what would your recommendation be for a fine scanner? I see models from $99 (Hamm & Schlerm) to $400 and $800. Even my Canon copier PIXMA MP980 claims it can scan slides. But my project is a serious one to me, and I value my slides as a record of the life lived, so I am not adverse to spending, but what do you recommend? There are services that do it for a very hefty price (especially with such quantities), but if you thought I could learn to do it with effort, concentration and diligence, I need to know what equipment to get for the initial scan into my iMac on order to burn them onto DVD’s. As a professional photographer you must have this experience. Again, mych admiration and many thanks, Edward

All scanners that aren’t dedicated film scanners produce bad scans. Every single one. They may produce amazing normal scans, but they aren’t meant for film scanning.

Canon used to make a scanner called the FS400 and it was considered the holy grail of film scanners, but its been off the market for a decade. The only thing currently manufactured that seems to be any good is Microtek’s ArtixScan M1 Pro (flatbed scanner, but has a direct scanning path for film scanning, so its really a film scanner underneath) and Plustek’s OpticFilm 7600i.

Whatever you end up choosing, make sure VueScan supports it and that you use VueScan exclusively to scan. The software that comes with scanners usually is complete crap, even on several thousand dollar units. The Pro version (which is completely worth it for the IT8 color calibration which you’ll need to keep color balance on your slides correct) is only $80.

Also, make sure you buy IT8 calibration targets for the kind of film you’re scanning. Kodak has made several different products over the years, including Kodachrome and Ektachrome among others.

Just as bit of info, the Nikon Coolscan LS-5000 ED and 9000 were nicer scanners than the Canon. Unfortunately they too were discontinued as Nikon got out of the scanner business. Both are still available used on Ebay. The Nikons though got pricey used (twice their original price) as there are no new ones that can do the same job.

Its kind of depressing the best scanners ever made are behind us.

I use my point and shoot digital camera, a nikon S 8100, set to macro mode to make copies of B&W negs and color slides. I built a light box using 8 w fluorescent cool white bulbs and set the camera white balance to fluorescent, although 5000k bulbs might be better. I also built a small wooden “jig” to hold the camera high enough for focus and hold the camera steady. This setup works great,although there is a slight amount of barrel
distortion in the pictures. I then import the files into i Photo for some tweaking.

I hate florescent bulbs because of the low Color Reproduction Index (CRI). Makes it really hard to get color accuracy out of it.

Professionals try to “scan” paintings using a similar method, but they use a DSLR, high intensity flashes, and a tilt and shift lens to eliminate all distortions.

Have you looked at the China Lake report commissioned by Millenniata?
( http://millenniata.com/wp-content/uploads/m-disc/mdisc_china_lake_study.pdf )
Aside from Millenniata vs. regular DVDs, the study stress-tested several brands of regular DVDs. TY came in the middle of the pack, behind Verbatim and Mitsubishi. Any thoughts?

The fact they paid for a study makes it somewhat suspect, and the fact that they rated TY below Verbatim makes the entire thing suspect.

I misread it. The worst were Verbatim and Mitsubishi, then TY, and the best were Delkin and MAM-A (p. 44). The stress test involved heat, humidity and bright light. They don’t give details on the type of disc used other than the brand name.

That sounds slightly better, but I wonder if they tested MAM and labeled it wrong. MAM used to make really great discs (on par with TY), but the company split up into MAM-A and MAM-E, and neither have been able to produce anything nearly as good afterwards.

I’d like to throw another question at you.
I burn large video files from my storage drive with FireWire (Maxtor 1394 Disk Drive IEEE 1394 SBP2 Device). These large files are always fragmented. Is there an advantage in defragging these files before a burn to potentially improve quality and will the speed of FireWire’s faster file transfer effect the burning speed you select? These files are not HD.

Thanks

I’d copy them to an internal drive first.

Good Information. Thanks.
I’ve been researching for quality DVD manufacturers. TY clearly appears to be the winner.
My question pertains to suppliers. Amazon.com uses “One Stop Outlet” out of New Jersey. By any chance, would you have info on this suppliers authenticity to provide legitimate TY?

Thanks

Amazon does not use third party suppliers, instead they allow third party suppliers come to them and use their interface to sell goods. You have to sometimes be careful on Amazon and make sure the product is either sold by Amazon or by another major vendor (AntOnline, Adorama, B&H, etc).

The interesting thing is they now also provide their warehouse shipping service to third parties (you ship your entire inventory to Amazon, and then Amazon ships them out to customers for you), which also qualifies for Prime service.

However, I’ve never heard of One Stop Outlet, so I’d avoid them.

HI, good info! Didn’t know the DVD-R and DVD+R formats had such large differences. Shall switch to +R from now on.

What do you think of the stone based M-DISCs from http://millenniata.com/ ? Seems to be seriously archival but perhaps overkill? Rather expensive as well. Only burns in their burner but can be read in any DVD drive that supports DVD+R format.

Not particularly interested in it. Since it only works on their burners, there never will be a large scale independent test of their media over long periods of time. They haven’t sold me on the idea.

Writing M-Discs is now supported by LG Blu-ray drives, I think all the current Blu-ray burners, and at least one Blu-ray reader / DVD burner. The M-Disc media is pricey at $4-5 per 4.7GB disc, but they claim it should last for 1000 years when stored properly, and it should last much longer than any other media when stored improperly.

M-Discs appears to be THE best solution for archival data storage.

Until every DVD burner on the market can burn M-Discs, its still a proprietary spec and not suitable for long term archival. Also, there has been no third party large scale test on their claims.

Need to archive family photos and videos. WIll be burning disks on the new iMac. Would you recommend DVD+R Thermal printable? What brand?

My recommendations for brand has not changed: I still recommend TY.

Help! Novice here and I am trying to archive/back up all my family photos. I was told by a professional video friend to go to SuperMediaStore to order Archival DVD’s but don’t see any TY brands there …. only Verbatim and MAM-A. All are listed as Gold Archival 8X. Are these a good option or should I go to another site? AND 2nd Q… Should I be looking at Silver+Gold or only Gold?
Thanks for helping a nervous consumer!

I link directly to SuperMediaStore’s TY categories in the article, so it should be easy to find.

I read -with great interest–your article re: CD/Archival materials…
I’m a composer …interested in preserving my music (CD’s) film music compositions (DVD’s)
Question: what would I best use to burn CD’s and DVD’s….what’s a good” burner”?
I anticipate burning 20 to 30 Cd’s/DvD’s…..Is there a service that would utilize the higher
quality you recommend? Happy to pay for it!
Thank you kindly for your great help….I’m most appreciative!
Herb Pilhofer

Virtually all services that produce commercial small scale burning use TY media (assuming they just don’t press, although pressing is usually in the tens of thousands and up).

I still recommend Samsung burners, however, if you wish to do it yourself…. if you’re burning only 20-30, you’ll probably have to.

After reading your article I have decided that I wasted money on the CD-R recordable 52X 700MB 80 min. storage discs that I purchased. I had also purchased the DVD+R 16X 4.7GB 120 min.recordable discs and these worked with my PC DVD burner. I have an HPdvd840 DVD RW Disc Burner and it will not record on the CD’s – it is telling me to try at a lower speed. The speed indicated in burning is at 48X How do I set the speed lower if i want to use up the CD’s that I did purchase? Or… is there a difference in burners? Is there a CD burner verses DVD burner on PC’s? Yeah probably sounds dumb to you but ‘m just a pup when it come to technology. Please e-mail me because I will probably not find this site again for I found it in the Wikkipedia section while trying to learn about the difference between CD and DVD burners. thanks Pam

The CDs might be defective, or your burner does not have a proper burning profile for those discs (you can’t fix this).

Try burning at 36x, it should work. I assume the CDs are not TY discs.

I guess that my question was… Is there a difference in a CD burner verses a DVD burner? I recently crashed my computer, fried the board that is. I purchased another one “used” but similar to my older one that is, and It seems to me that the old one had a CD burner and not a DVD burner. Can you burn on CD’s with a DVD burner? Pam

For burning CDs, there is no difference. The DVD specification is written in a way that basically means any drive that reads DVDs must also read CDs, and any drive that burns DVDs must also burn CDs.

It would be somewhat useless to have a drive that burned DVDs only.

Dear Pam,

Latest DVD writer can not burn CD discs more than 48X speed. Even TY discs can not be burnt more than 48X speed on a latest DVD writer.
HP writer model mentioned by you is a very old one. Even it may not support CD with 48X speed.

The 48x speed limit was put in place to stop discs from self-destructing under high speeds. Burners can automatically detect the maximum speed of the media and adjust accordingly. Putting 48/52x media in a drive that cannot do 48x, you merely will not see the option available in your burning software.

All modern CD media can be burned as slow as 24x without leading to any damage. A lot of websites give EXTREMELY bad advice of burning at 1x to improve burn quality, DO NOT DO THIS. I wish they had made drives refuse to burn at absurdly slow speeds on new media.

I was very pleased to come across your obviously knowledgeable and well researched article in my search for information on the best discs for archival purposes. I have very many valuable lectures in my profession stored on my old iMac G4, and some years ago thought to burn them onto (mostly) Sony CD-R in case my computer crashed.
I haven’t as yet read in detail your whole article, but I see no differentiation between archiving spoken, text or visual material. Is it the case I can still archive lectures from audio tapes, and text on the recommended JVC Advanced Media (Taiyo Yuden DVD+R), even though it is DVD rather than CD?
Finally, if that is the case, do you recommend an outlet in Britain?
Many thanks, Paul.

If you plan on playing back audio on an actual CD player, you need to use CD-Rs. TY does make very high quality CD-Rs. If you do not plan on listening to them on a CD player, DVD-R is fine. Data is data.

I’m not aware of any stores in the UK.

I have a rather peculiar problem. I had a bad case of psoriasis on my hands and I had to wear gloves over the ointments and creams, and even essential oils, some which are very deep penetrating to the skin.

It is quite aggravating then, to be trying to burn a disc since one cannot wash one’s hands of the medication, and washing the hands aggravates the psoriasis. So I have had to try to avoid any media whatsoever.

However when it came to backing up I would be very diligent and ensure that I was wearing a pair of good, clean gloves. However, much to my dismay there was one day when some oils got on a disc and that disc landed on the top of a spindle pack. To my dismay it had leaked down the spindle pack onto the edges of all the other discs.

Most of them were old HP DVD+R with the orange coating and blue undersides. Unfortunately there were these small protrusions into the edges of the disc that actually soaked down into the polycarbonate layer itself and the ointment creams actually spread out over the disk UNDER the layer thus wiping out any chance of the disks being read.

It would probably be like a disk immersed in oil and water like in a Katrina house and there were splotches on every single disk in the spindle for the first inch or two from the top. I lost all of my backups this way and have been trying to figure a way to get them to work again.

In the meantime I am looking for an archival media that will resist the soaking in of such oils etc. I have heard that the Century discs is water proof, but that is not my problem.

Any suggestions, the stuff gets into everything.

Wow.

The only thing I can think is the HP discs had bad seals, or the medicine somehow reacted with the seal. Buy some TY DVD+R and intentionally expose one disc to your medicines and see if it destroys the seal. It shouldn’t. Wearing cotton medical gloves and using non-latex medical tape around the edge where it touches your wrist so nothing accidentally leaks out should prevent further problems, unless the stuff soaks through the gloves easily.

As for the ones already destroyed, you cannot recover them without spending a lot of money. Once the seal is broken and the reflective layer oxidizes, you’re screwed.

Patrick,

Just one remark on your otherwise outstanding article.
Why do you consequently misspell the Philips (indeed, just one L) brand name with Phillips (2 L’s)?.
The Philips Company is Dutch, as I am…
Proud of both. Could you please correct?

Regards,

Jeroen

The funny part is, no one has noticed that for several years.

Thanks for your swift reply and correction!

Best regards

Jeroen

Hello!, Excellent article!, thank you for take the time to share and to keep it updated for so long!!.

I will like to ask you, as my Pioneer DVR-110D is starting to die after so many years of service, what whould you recommend today, plextor writers are very accesible now, but don’t know about the quality, LG are almost impossible to find, and Pioneer seems that only retained the brand because the drives are complete different (both looking and behavior).
thank you!
best regards, Leo

Plextor no longer manufacturers drives, Pioneer has iffy quality (sometimes great, sometimes crap, sometimes changing across revisions of the same model), so the only people left is Samsung. I have two, they’ve been churning along for like 4 or 5 years now, so thats about your only real option.

Dear Leo,

I would suggest to use Pioneer BD205 drive model (One of the best BD writer supporting all DVD and CD formats very well.

Pioneed has a problem with being hit and miss, and they also like to ship different models under existing (good) model numbers. YMMV.

Patrick,

Just a note to thank you for keeping this excellent article current and available.

Thanks….

Larry

Dear Archival Product Expert,

Have you ever tried Falcon Technologies’ manufactured Archival discs(http://www.falcon-media.net/format.php?format_id=10&n=)?

They are making archival discs with TDK as well as MKM MID code.

BR
Vinayvishva

Yeah I’ve looked into them. Its just another gold archival disc. I am not worried about oxidation of the reflection layer, I am worried about oxidation and degradation of the dye layer, and nothing they say proves to me that that their media outperforms TY in any useful metric.

natalie burlingame

i am about ready to start backing up digital photos and have purchased the TY DVD 16X +R (silver colored). i tried burning one and it burned very quickly – then i recalled you advised a slower setting. windows media player has a fast, med, and ?slow but it wasn’t apparent what speed those would be. do you have some advice on what setting to use and what those might mean?
i plan on using a dvd player and the notebook to view the dvd’s.

Does TY thermal mean it can be lightscribed? TY has two models White and Silver, do they have any difference?

I am not a professional. I am just a regular person seeking to archive our family photos and videos. I found the hard way that external hard drives are 100% unreliable to keep photos. I had about 3 that crashed on me and about 2 years of lost memories. I bought this dvd protector years back. Its call D Skin. seems to work, it has been 6 years since.

Thanks for the very helpful article.

No, TY makes a version specifically for lightscribing. Thermal discs are for thermal printers only (very expensive printers that are meant for large batches professionally printed).

Lightscribing requires a top layer that is designed similarly to the recording layer, and cannot be printed on otherwise.

As a side note, having a single copy of ANYTHING is 100% unreliable. Backups on discs and external harddrives are backups, so your originals (on your computer) will not be lost if something happens. You should have multiple backups in different physical locations in addition to your home (such as a bank deposit box).

Is there any difference in real-world DVD player (not burner) support of DVD-R versus DVD+R?

I read somewhere that the official DVD spec only requires a player to support pressed DVDs – burned DVDs are optional. So I was wondering if a player could tell a difference between -R and +R, and if so which was more widely supported.

Thanks for a great article!

Depends on the player. Some have (badly designed) anti-piracy measures and reject DVD-R but accept DVD+R thinking its a pressed DVD, some reject both DVD-R and DVD+R, some don’t care.

Its not about the spec, the drive itself in the player can read them, the discs are rejected higher up in the control chain.

I hope I didn’t miss reading a post. … I have followed your info on DVD/CDs for a long time. … I noticed that TY doesn’t make a double layer DVD+R. … Is there a reason? Is there a double layer media you would recommend. For single layer I use TY DVD+R’s and they work great for me.

I don’t use the double layer often, but occasionally it is convenient.

Someone said TY makes a DL DVD+R now, but I can’t find anyone who is actually selling it.

Verbatim, who I consider the only other company I’d bother doing business with, DOES sell a DL DVD+R.

GARY HEIMBURGER

I’m a little confused even after reading you article and going to the Super Media Store website. I want a 16X or 8X record speed disk and will be writing label info using a Sharpie style pen to id the DVD’s. What DVD+R Taiyo Yuden do you recommend that fits this requirement.
Thanks,
Gary

Get the thermal printable ones and be careful not to scratch the Sharpie writing off or smear it before it dries.

How do you recommend to store these archival DVDs? What do you store them in?
Thank you,
DEb

The DVD style black acid-free polypropylene cases. Its real polypropylene if the inside of it doesn’t feel greasy or slimy. SMS sells decent ones for cheap.

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