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

In 6 years, DVDs most likely won’t be used anymore… however, there are no Bluray or HD-DVD media that I can truthfully say that are archival quality. Even TY’s and Verbatim’s that are coming out right now need to be put through their paces.

If you simply cannot find TY in UK, just buy Verbatim. You should be able to find it in any store.

As for your settop recorder, see if it’ll record with DVD+R… if it won’t, then just use DVD-R. Always test with a single disc before buying a large cakebox for something.

Also, don’t bother transferring VHS to DVD. The quality is so bad that you’ll just end up wasting discs.

Yes I see your point, for the small amount of discs that I use per year, ordering outside of UK, is an expensive option, possably double with shipping, so I need to consider if it will be worth buying a larger amount from other parts of Europe to compensate for the shipping, say 500 which would last me 6 years, and the likleyhood is that in 6 years there will be better media around by TY than available today, if you get my drift?
I have however found an other company who sell a full range of TY discs which would give me a better feeling I think than my previous company who only have 1 kind of CD and 1 Kind of DVD-R,
I would like to thank you for the very informative article, it is a good one and full of informnation, I am an amature photographer, and have quite a few CD’s full of Digital Photo’s which I obviously want to protect and archive for a good time to come, So perhapse not as important as your self being a Professional Photographer, but still for the cost of the Media it makes sence to protect with the best media available to you, I have come to the conclusion that all of the films that I have recorded in the past 3 years should be gone through and transfered onto good quality media, the next concideration will have to be the new HD DVD format, do you know if TY produve any media for HD or have plans to?
I do not have a HD recorder as of yet, but dare say that I will be buying one in the comming days so to speak.
Finally would you still advise sticking with DVD+R discs with the settop recorder, even though the maker Panasonic recomend DVD-R?
I am reluctent to bother burning many more films for my collection untill I buy some TY media as I do want them to last, this does however present another question, as to do I want to transfer all of my VHS vudeos to DVD, quite a frightning task in real time copying!

Thanks
Dave

Gothic: The “shiny silver” ones are called thermal printable. They require a special (expensive) printer to print on, however, I buy them and just write on them with a Sharpie. Also, these are the same DVDs that get branded by re-sellers (ie, TDK, That’s, Verbatim retail, etc)

TY DVD+R shiney silver discs, 100 in a cakebox, go for about $40-50. TY Value DVD-Rs (there are no Value DVD+Rs) are about $5-$10 less.

My gut feeling is that those are fakes. I don’t do business in the UK, but someone in the comments above mentioned a few places in Europe that you might wanna order from.

DISCLAIMER: I have never ordered from these companies and I cannot attest to them selling genuine TY media.

John: vi.

So, Patrick, which technology is better: vi or emacs? :-) (I couldn’t resist)

I said one film, but not that I tried 5 times with the same result, it would record the film but not finalise the disc.
Cheers

Well I have just read the report/article, plus all of the Q&A’s as part of my research into TY DVD’s which has only come about since recently I have had a number of coasters when trying to record a film from satalite TV here in England, I was using Datawrite DVD+R discs which I have quite a lot of, which I purchased with my first DVD home recorder a Philips which only lasted a year and a month, secondly I bought a Panasonic, which for day to day recording of view once and scrub kind of recordings I use DVD-Ram discs, but if making a DVD of a film that I want to watch from time to time, Now the Philips recorder was a + machine only where the Panasonic plays and records all discs but DVD+RW, but since I had a load of DVD+R discs I have been using these for my films.
However since they are finally deminishing, I had alook ath my normal supplier (buy about once a year or so, not a big use like you guys)
http://www.ukdvdr.co.uk/shop/home.php
I noticed that they had the TY discs which they said were top notch but were blank toped with a shinny silver finish, which I had usually just regarded as unbranded ones, so started looking in to it as you do!
I was there for real happy when You said that DVD+R’s were the way to go, as I was looking at buying the DVD-R discs which the Panasonic instruction book recomended, and I now know that the Panasonic DVD-R’s are in fact made by TY or most of them for the UK.
Now at this sypplier UKDVDR the DVD-R discs were about 2/3 the price of any other UK supplier that I found, and have come to the conclusion that they are :-
1) TY’s VALUE range slightly poorer quality
or_
2) Fakes,

I do not really know, however they do not have the +R discs only the -R in 100 cello wrap, my concern is as to whether or not they ate fakes as I take it that -R TY discs would be better than an other manfacturers +R discs from what I gather?
Now the problem that I had with my current discs is a strange on as it was only on ONE film on SAT that would record but refuse to finalise and rendered the disc unreadable, Baffles me!
As I can not think that this a copy right control measure by Sky TV as the method they use normally is on there pay to view BOX OFFICE films in which the film fades in and out with poor sound quality, so that it is unwatchable.
The site says that these TY discs that they have are TYG-002 dyes but I believe that the fakes also report to use this dye, the cost is £21.99 ($32) for 100 where other suppliers here seam to charge around £35 for 100 ($51 approx)

Check the site out and let me know what your gut feeling would be on them, to buy these TY discs of to buy Verbatim discs as a second best?
Thanks for such an informaitve article in the first place

Thanks Dave

The DVDs with the inkjet printable labels already attached are fine. As far as anyone can tell, they don’t decrease the archival life of the media. However, make sure they were actually sealed into the disk, and not just added on like a bad sticky label… for example, Taiyo Yuden and Verbatim ones are done correctly.

One thing I haven’t seen addressed…

It is clear one shouldn’t put labels on DVDs. But what about the DVD’s that come with a white injet printable label already on. Are these OK. Are they as archival as those without?

I believe I have answered your question. Just because something is an industry standard doesn’t mean all companies in said industry use it.

Some companies are just run by people who are asshole: its a fact of life. There are companies still who think DVD+R will never take off, even though almost half of burnable DVD media sold today is DVD+R.

The whole DVD-R/DVD+R battle is no different than VHS vs Betamax, Bluray vs HD-DVD, or even vi vs emacs. Its a battle of egos, not a battle of which technology is better.

You still have not answered my question. How can a standard(-R) with varying degrees of format be more easily read by set top players than the industry standardized +R format? I also have doubts that SONY, makers of both DVD media and set top players(which had issues reading +R as well) would make a player that couldn’t even read its own media.

Andrew: Short answer: Burn at the speed it says on the box it came in. Don’t burn faster, slower, or use ‘auto’ speed in your burning program.

Long answer: There is this long standing myth that burning at the slowest speed produces better burns.

On any ‘fast’ CD-R media rated for above 12x, burning below 12x is impossible, and will actually ruin the media, and I think theres another gap at around 24x.

DVD will eventually have the same problem in the future, but it doesn’t now. So, burning 52x CD-R media at 36x won’t hurt it, and burning 16x DVD media at 4x won’t hurt it, but always try to burn at the speed the media is rated for.

Additionally, DVD+R (as I mentioned in the article) contains more information about burning power calibration than DVD-R or CD-R: DVD+R contains information for slower speeds, often including 2x and/or 4x profiles on 8x/16x media.

Thank you, Patrick, for the very good article and for your recomendations! But what do you think about the optimal writing speed? Does it make sense to use the lowest possible speed for getting the maximum quality – 2x, 4x? Or it’s better to use the maximum speed announced by manufacturer?

XMAN: Because DVD-R came first, and set-top box manufacturers saw no need to support DVD+R , most likely because they didn’t understand why it was superior. There are a lot of political issues behind not supporting DVD+R well, and any company who does that doesn’t deserve your business.

roubaix: 1) Yes, I already recommend Verbatim in cases where TY isn’t either available or you need dual layer in the article body.

2) Avoid lesser brands of any media, no matter if its CD-R, DVD-R, DVD+R, Bluray, HDDVD, or whatever else is out there.

-R TY is not that much cheaper than +R TY, and I really do recommend using +R TY… but if you simply refuse to spend the money, then -R TY or -R Verbatim will do better than anything else out there.

I’m hoping your 500 discs were at least burned with a trust worth brand. I’d hate to see 500 discs worth of data go up in smoke.

Thanks for all the info – just a couple of questions:

First is there a recommendation as to what the best media might be behind Ty?

Second, for archival purposes, (and sadly for some of us cost is a factor), would a person be better off with a lesser brand of +R media or would –R Ty be just as good?

This is the FIRST article I have read that actually told me why +R is better – I wish I had found this about 500 discs ago!

As a followup, I have used the folowing media type – and +(both formats) from these companies:
HP
SONY
TDK
CompUSA Specials
Fuji
Memorex

I have found that Memorex is just simply crap, most failures total than all others be it in burning the media or trying to have it read. TDK, Sony and the CompUSA specials had the highest success rates with buring media, but the -R formats had far greater success in being read/played than the +Rs in set top players. Fuji was next in line and HP while better than Memorex, was worse than the above mentioned other media types.

“1) Thats a problem with the players themselves, not with the DVD+R media”

If DVD+R is so great, why is it DVD-R is more widely supported in set top players? Also, I have played with RCA, Panasonic, GE and SONY DVD players that say they support DVD+R, but yet they have far fewer issues reading/playing DVD-R media than they do +R media. If +R is so wonderful and great, how can this be? +R is/does have the better standard right? How can a standard(-R) with varying degrees of format be more easily read by set top players than the industry standardized +R format?

Flash: Nope, there is no one that actually guarantees their stuff as the real thing, and I really wish someone would come out and do so.

Also, I’m not sure if that drive will support DVD+R… go find the cheapest DVD+R single you can find and go try it.

Williwaw: The problem with Delkin’s, MAM-A’s Gold, and Kodak’s gold discs is that no independent study places them any better than TY or Verbatim media.

I want more people to do independent studies, but people just aren’t doing it, and not enough people are coming up saying that Delkin, MAM-A Gold, or Kodak did significantly better than what I use.

And even if they did do better, it might be more cost effective to just buy a tape drive and a few tapes depending on how much data you want to store.

Any opinions on the Delkin Archival Gold cd-r discs? They claim a 300-year lifespan, though I’m sure that’s up for debate. I’ve been using the MAMA-A Gold Archival cd’s made in Colorado under a license from Mitsui Chemicals without any problems.

Hi,

I was wondering if there is another place to get certified Taiyo Yuden media online in the US besides SuperMediaStore.com. It seems they only sell 100 discs at a time minimum, and this is just excessive.
Is http://www.american-digital.com guaranteed real? BC they are selling the DVD+R in 25 packs.

Also, anyone sure of the compatibility of DVD+R with a 1st generation MacBook with a superdrive? (not macbook pro).

David:
1) Thats a problem with the players themselves, not with the DVD+R media. If you’re not willing to replace your player, then just grab DVD-R media just for that.

2) Almost right. RW media does not use the same phase change technology as RAM does. RW doesn’t use it because it is more expensive (although it lasts longer).

Also, yes, the fact it is laid out like floppy/hard drive like magnetic media does help… but only if you want a cheap removable hard drive. For archiving, it adds nothing.

3) Not quite. The temperature at which RW and RAM media changes is high enough that normal R media will be destroyed as well. Do not store media at temperatures above around 90F, archival temperatures are even less than that (some say 75F or less).

4) I agree, and I keep telling this to people. RAID helps to make sure your data doesn’t die between backups, it doesn’t help if your entire computer fries.

Backup tapes really are the holy grail of backing up data (which people in previous comments have also agreed on)… the only reason I didn’t mention them in my article is because my article was focusing on DVDs for backups (which isn’t a bad ‘short term’ solution at all (ie, 25+ years)).

But seeing as a good tape drive is around $600, and tapes themselves are expensive as well, for 95% of people out there, the solution is too expensive.

Several comments. All are based on my understanding. Feel free to correct any mistakes. Hopefully, there isn’t too much wrong here.

1: Your description of “why DVD+R” is very interesting as a technical description, but I find it interesting that DVD-R media seems to be more compatible with video players than +R media. (Although modern video players rarely have a problem with either.)

2: DVD-RAM is based on the same phase-change substrate that CD-RW, DVD-RW and DVD+RW use. It was originally invented by Philips in the form of “PD” discs, which were never mainstream.

DVD-RAM’s big advantage for data is that it doesn’t use a spiral track. It actually uses concentric circular tracks and sectors, like a floppy disk or a hard drive. So it is very easy to overwrite individual disk blocks. Which is why computer system software almost always makes them appear as giant floppy discs (just like zip disks do.)

3: I think the biggest problem to PD-based media (-RAM and all the RWs) is storage temperature. PD uses heat from the laser to change the phase of the substrate. If the disc is subject to high temperatures (like sitting in a car on a hot day), it could cause some phase changing, scrambling data. When stored at normal room temperature, however, I don’t think it should have any particular longevity problems, compared to dye-based media.

PD media’s biggest problem is that -ROM drives often have a problem reading it, because the difference in reflectivity between 1s and 0s is much less than that from stamped or dye-based media.

4: RAID is no substitute for a backup. RAID solves many problems, but it doesn’t solve them all. IMO, it is great for maintaining high reliability, but backups are still necessary. I personally prefer magnetic tape. My own personal experience (which admittedly isn’t that extensive) has been that magnetic media of all kinds (floppies, Zip disks, and several different kinds of tape) have outlasted my CD-R backups. (Yes, I know others have had the opposite experience. I don’t think they’re lying, but their experience is nothing like mine.) I have several DAT-based archival backups that have worked great after 15 years.

I’m going to assume Windows has absolutely no clue what its talking about. Both DVD-R and DVD+R discs hold 4.4 gigabytes of data.

If Windows doesn’t display exactly the same values for both discs, then Windows is wrong.

I have a question, I found my DVD burner will burn to DVD+R, even though it comes up as only seeing DVD-R This is when you look under my computer. Anyway, I burned successfully to a DVD+R disk. It played on the computer just fine too. Yet, I noticed that the burn size on the DVD=R disk is smaller or shorter than on the DVD-R disk. How is this and what does it mean? File sizes were the same, burned from the same program to both disks. Just wondering and does this mean you can actually get more burned onto a DVD+R disk? It was 3 short video clips, in AVI file size. Same video clips burned to both types of disk.

Pat

Well, the DVDs you can print on are inkjet printers, which have a special coating on the top that holds ink. I use Sharpies on “plain” silver discs (the kind for thermal printing). Some pens I’ve tried, after the ink dries, I can scrape the dried ink right off. They’re useless, obviously. Hopefully, your pen doesn’t have that problem.

Also, yes, your burner needs to support DVD+R. Some early pre-DVD+R drives added the support via firmware upgrade, others require a firmware upgrade to do DVD+R properly; some drives won’t support DVD+R ever.

So yeah, if your drive doesn’t support DVD+R, its time to replace it.

For those who are debating what to use to write on the top of a CD/DVD, for labeling purposes. I use a pen, which is pigment ink, acid free, Archival Quality, Light fast, Waterproof, Fade proof and Non-bleeding. You can find these pens in any craft type store that sells scrapbook supplies. My current pen is a ZIG Memory writer pen, has two size heads in one pen. (looks and writes much like a Sharpie pen) There are other brands that are equal to this one too. If I can print with pigmented ink, from a printer, onto the DVD, then why can’t I use the same kind of ink from a pen? If it is acid free, then there’s not a problem.

Question about burners, If I have a DVD burner that I know burns DVD-R, will it also burn DVD+R disks? I haven’t been able to figure out from previous postings if this is an issue or not. Do I need a burner that is a DVD+R burner In order to use +R disks is the question? I ask because a couple of the comments left me confused about this.

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