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, 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 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. 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


1,255 Responses

I just stumbled upon the National Archives webpage entitled Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Optical Storage Media: Storing Temporary Records on CDs and DVDs. It includes the comment :

“Do not use Azo- or (plain) cyanine-dyed media.”

Since this does not seem to square with your comments about Azo, can you elaborate as to whether/when it is appropriate to use such media?

Thanks in advance.

You can’t blanket statement say all Azo or cyanine based formulas are bad. I don’t care what they use for a formula as long as it survives 2 or 3 decades in archival storage. Taiyo Yuden’s formula is very stable.

I am curious to know if any archival quality media exists that also allows label printing on the media itself (inkjet but preferably LightScribe). Any recommendations or warnings will be greatly appreciated.

I don’t particularly trust M-Disc, not until they’ve been around for another decade and no one has reported degradation in the burnt media. I imagine there is going to be no real further advances in disc media. Everyone is either using massive tape libraries, or redundant offsite synchronized cloud storage. Discs outside of commercial media is kind of dead.

I appreciate the knowledge you’ve shared with the rest of us all these years – I’m curious what you think about m-disc now that their web site has a link to a Dept. of Defense Accelerated Life Cycle study for Archival DVDs (including m-disc)…..(I also found one other study by Robin Harris for Storage Bits -lauditory, but certainly not as clinically rigorous)…M-disc has recently released a 25gig BD+R disc for ~$5.00ea….since I do tape conversion to DVD for clients, I’ve used nothing but TY or Verbatim for years, and have had zero complaints (ok, almost zero), but I try to stay apprised of the current state of the art – what’s your opinion of the current state of things?

Hey there just happened to stumble upon your article while doing a Google search and I must say it is quite informative. With that being said I just wanted to know what you think of Sony branded CD-Rs. I know you recommend the Taiyo Yuden brand but just wanted to know out of curiosity what you thought of Sony’s in particular. Thanks.

I consider them of low quality.

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the very valuable information. This is by far the best article I have seen on the subject.

Is CDR media technology as susceptible to corruption over time (I’m converting audio cassettes to CD in normal audio CD format)? Do I also have to select CD media as carefully as DVD media if it is needed to last more than say five years? If so would you please give recommendations. Many thanks!

Best regards

You need to be even more careful with CD-R. I recommendation stays the same for CD-R, just buy JVC Advanced Media-branded TY. I only suggest you use CD-R for when you absolutely totally need to be able to play on a CD player. Also, keep a copy of the original audio on a DVD-R in a safe location just in case the CD-R goes bad. TY also makes a scratch proof coating CD-R which is good for people who have to handle the discs frequently.

I’m seriously tired of reading all of these over-exaggerations of Kobe. Kobe is just as clutch as Dirk Nowitzki! Yeah, that’s clutch alright! It’s called OVERRATING.

I am researching digital media archives for the government agency that I work for, and found your article to be one of the most informative pieces I’ve run across. Would your recommendations differ in any way when dealing with scanned hardcopy documents, rather than movies/music?

My recommendations stay the same. Digital data is digital data, discs don’t know what you’re burning onto them other than its made of bits. I store all kinds of data on mine, they’re all computer files in the end. You may also consider, since you’re working for a government agency and that might require extreme long term storage, a tape backup using the 3 2 1 strategy: 3 backups, 2 off-site, 1 on site.

However, tapes are only appropriate for hundreds of GB and up. LTO and StorageTek are the two popular formats, being able to store up to 2.5TB and 5TB per tape respectively. DVD is perfect for data sets up the hundreds of GB (20 discs per 100GB give or take).

What about DVD+R DL (Dual-layer)? I would guess that this doesn’t have as good archival properties as DVD+R single layer. TY doesn’t seem to make a DVD+R DL (or, at least, they don’t show one at SuperMediaStore).
TDK makes one, but they’re not TY. So, what’s the story on DL?

TY does make a DVD-R DL, so if you really need DL buy that.

Thank you for the excellent guide. I have a TEAC W5000S drive but I am unable to source the JVC ISO/IEC 10995 certified DVD-R media to go with it. (It seems JVC do not yet produce certified DVD+R) The nearest I can find is JVC Taiyo Yuden 16x ‘Archive Grade’. My dilemma is that they have both DVD-R and DVD+R available. Which of these would you recommend and do you have any thoughts on why JVC have opted for DVD-R as preferred format given your findings on the stability of -R over +R?

Stick with the Archive Grade DVD+R. The reason they’re not YET manufacturing their ISO 10995 media in DVD+R is due to the popularity of DVD-R, instead of doing the right thing and pushing for only DVD+R. From what I’ve heard, they will eventually make the ISO 10995 media in DVD+R.

As for finding the ISO 10995 DVD-R media, yes, it is hard to find. TY has been trying to get more online stores to carry it, but it is a very niche and expensive product. JVC Advance Media should just sell it themselves directly, it would make things easier.

Awsome article! Great information. Thanks for posting it.

Best Regards

I find the digital media very risky.
Paper archival was proven to be safe for thousand years
The old film media can be kept for 100 years and more
Kodak slides and negatives will live to the next 100 years.
But no dvd will exist more than 30 years.

Really enjoyed your article and the great information. Very helpful in helping to choose what technologies to use for storage of photos. I have recently purcased an external DVD writer and it came with an M-DISC. I have not used it yet, but reading information about it from thier website it sounds very interesting. Here is an excert from a pdf M-DISC data Layer Stability… The M-DISCâ„¢ data layer is a nano-scale, multi-layer structure consisting of metals and other inorganic materials. It is substantially different from the conventional organic, dye-based DVD-R in that it was designed from the beginning to last for centuries without the failure points common to conventional DVDs.
You have been researching this topic for awhile and was wondering if you had any dealings with this company or heard of them. The company that is selling these disc is Millenniata, Inc. based in Provo, Utah and on the on the M-DISC case it has made in the Czech Republic. They are about $3.00 US a piece but if they they last as long as they claim it may be a great value.
Thank you for the great article

M-Disc seems like a scam. They require specialized burners to use, they do not comply with the DVD-R specification, they are more expensive than any archival grade product on the market, the discs themselves are not made in a country known for high quality media (such as Japan or Taiwan), they have not been tested in any accepted accelerated testing paper, and they continually pay shills (such as yourself), to post on blogs (such as mine).

Sorry Patrick, I did not mean to offend. I am not being paid to post by any company. I am only trying to find a long term affordable soultion to storing photos of family and vacations. You seemed to have researched this subject fairly thoughly and I was requesting your opinion. As I stated above your blog has been very helpful and I am new at achciving photos. You responded quickly with your opinion and I thank you for that.

I just find it strange your statement is nearly identical to people previously who have asked about M-Disc.

Some years ago, I purchased some Fuji discs labelled CD-R Photo from a camera store. Are these worth using still?

Probably not. Also, I don’t recommend CD-Rs for archival use due to the single polycarbonate layer construction.

Sorry to come back – I think I’ve caused a misunderstanding by including the word CD. I’m really only interested in DVD. At the end is the missing part of my message. Can you please enlighten me on two questions: (thanks)

Are JVC-TY DVD-R OK for archival use? (Water Shield DVD is -R)

Can “Archival Grade” DVD be recorded and played on common home equipment?

Here in Australia we are offered JVC-TY “Premium Grade” DVD/CD (I usually go for the water shield product) but there is also “Master Grade” which are also tagged “archival”. I’ve been told these two are one and the same product. Is this true? If so why is Master Grade tagged “archival”?

JVC-TY market “Archival Grade” which I believe are a very different product requiring specialised equipment compared to “normal” home equipment.

See my response to your previous question. As long as its not their Value Grade DVD-R (which doesn’t exist for DVD+R, by the way), you should be fine.

Thankyou Patrick, I’ve followed you for years and taken aboard your excellent recommendation.

I hope I haven’t missed something along the way when asking these following questions:

Here in Australia we are offered JVC-TY “Premium Grade” DVD/CD (I usually go for the which are also tagged “archival”. I’ve been told these two are one and the same product. Is this true?

JVC-TY market “Archival Grade” which I believe are a very different product requiring specialised equipment compared to “normal” home equipment.

I would be most grateful if you can you please explain about this confusion


If its a DVD-R, it very well could be their brand new Archival Grade disc. If its DVD+R, its identical to the rest of theirs, and I already consider their DVD+R and premium grade DVD-R archival. Does the outer packaging look like this? If so, thats their new Archival Grade product.

It doesn’t require special hardware (it can be burned and read on any normal burner as it is a specification compliant disc), however it is recommended to only use ISO 10995 certified hardware on it and follow a strict storage and periodic scan for defects policy. As such, JVC recommends the TEAC DV-W5000 series of drives, which are very expensive.

For the average person, their ISO 10995 Archival Grade discs are massive overkill, even if you want to store them for 20 years. This is clearly for the enterprise sector that has absolutely irreplaceable data and already employs on-site and off-site live duplication in addition to offline backups.

And as I’ve recommended to others, if you’re storing that much enterprise data, consider enterprise archival tape solutions instead. Anything more than a one or two hundred DVDs starts to become a pain to manage.

I’ve always thought that the reason to record/archive on a dvd-r is that their compatibility with home players is much better than other formats (e.g, dvd+r, dvd-rw, etc…). I find your explanations about “why dvd+r’s are better” very interesting, but how about my concern with it’s lack of compatibility with home players – is it unfounded?
Thanks for your reply.

Its unfounded. DVD players fit into three categories: 1) They will play both DVD-R and DVD+R, 2) They confuse DVD+R for DVD-ROM but reject DVD-R for anti-piracy reasons, 3) They can tell the difference between DVD+R and DVD-ROM and reject both DVD+R and DVD-R.

Darn, had I been better informed, I would’ve been recording on a dvd+r instead of all the dvd-r (I have at least 500 dvd-r’s but their kept in an air tight container with silica packets included (to reduce any moisture; away from sunlight.
Thanks for your reply.
P.S. I bought some of the M-disc and will try it – their info is also interesting and states that it can be played on home players (which we often do with the family)

I’m looking for an external DVD burner to use with my laptop for us in archiving photos with some TY DVD+R discs that I’m purchasing. Can you recommend a brand and model?
Thank you!

They’re hard to get, but find a TEAC DV-W5000U (USB) ($500 and up), or get a TEAC DV-W5000S (SATA) (less than $200 refurbished if you look in the right places) and a Vantec NexStar DX SATA enclosure to put it in.

I’ve found that common, ordinary, USB DVD recorders which are inexpensive are perfectly adequate, if slow. I’m using an ASUS external drive which costs about $30 CAN. I’m not sure that a more expensive machine would do a better job for the individual user.

I don’t recommend using unknown brand DVD burners. The only consistent performer I’ve found is Samsung. Asus doesn’t make drives, they just rebrand them.

I agree with using an external burner instead of thin/laptop drives though.

How do I know whether to buy 16x or any of the other numbers available. I’ve purchased discs in the past and when I go to burn photos, I see that it doesn’t match the choices on my computer. I don’t know how to find out what my computer burns without having a disc in it right now. Where do I find that information? Thank you!

Burning a disc at slower than maximum rated speed is fine as long as it is 4x or faster. Your burner software should be able to tell you maximum speed without a disc in, although it depends which burner software you’re using to find out.

I noticed that there is a Silver Thermal Lacquer and White Inkjet Hub. Is there any difference for archive. Also how come DVD-R seems to be more available.

There isn’t a difference for archival reasons, buy thermal lacquer if you have either a thermal disc printer or are going to use Sharpies, or get white inkjet if you plan on using an inkjet with a disc tray.

Hi, great stuff you have here. Besides, where else can I get TY DVD+R discs? As I’m staying in Singapore. So I think it makes better sense if there is a online store in Japan where I can order? Nearer to me as well 🙂

In Japan, Taiyo Yuden has a brand called That’s. They are Taiyo Yuden’s only retail brand, and only available in Japan.

Follow-up to my question, can I buy TY discs in other places? Onto another topic: I think in terms of burning data to any discs (CD or DVD), besides the quality of discs, I believe 2 other factors affect the burn quality as well – type of writer, and the software used. Can you recommend which writer is the best, and which software is best. Thanks.

You have to be careful with where you buy. TY is the most counterfeited DVD media in existence, and I imagine being in Singapore the problem would be much worse than in the USA or in the EU.

Software isn’t much of an issue as long as it can properly check the disc. As for hardware, JVC Advance Media (aka TY) just came out with a new DVD burner around a year ago for archival grade burning (and comes with software perfect for the task) covers their new Archival DVD-R product (they don’t have DVD+R yet, but I heard they’re working on that soon). The drives are manufactured by TEAC for TY and there isn’t much information about them yet, but it solves the hardware problem.

Hi! Where to get info on new DVD burner from JVC?
I’m currently using HP dvd1270 with Nero 8. How does this sound? Thanks!

I’m hoping SuperMediaStore or Newegg will start carrying that burner soon. It solves the long standing issue that most burners are crap. I wouldn’t bother using an HP burner, by the way, every HP branded burner I’ve seen has produced coasters frequently.

What burning software do you recommend?

All software works equally as well as long as it can check the disc after burning, unless you have one of JVC’s archival burners because they come with their own software.

Taiyo Yuden does have double layer dvd media, They are DVD-R DL discs and are available in Japan, Europe and Australia.
item number: J-DMR85WPP-SK8

This is true now. It wasn’t out when I wrote that article.

Hi! Thank you for your very informative article. I am about to begin archiving my 1000+ VHS video collection to DVD. Based on your information, and others, I am definitely going to be using the Taiyo Yuden DVD+R media for this project. However, one issue that I did not see addressed in your article regards Taiyo Yuden 8x vs. 16x. Many users have written that they have experienced problems with the 16x version and recommend staying with the 8x. Have you come across this issue? There really isn’t that much of a price difference between the two, but since this is going to be a fairly large project, I want everything to run smoothly and archive for a long time. Thanks for any advice!

As far as I can tell, the only reason people had problems with TY 16x disc is the drives they were using had buggy firmwares that did not properly set the settings used with TY discs, and very few people had any problems at all. I do not know which drives had problems, but newer drives should have zero problems.

In reading your essay it’s obvious that DVD+R should be used. But in looking at the JVC and a dealer JVC recommended I am seeing that they recommend DVD-R for archival purposes.

Did I miss something?

Unless you’re dealer is recommending the brand new expensive archival media (which almost no one carries yet), stick with DVD+R.

Thank you for writing and updating this article!

Hi! This is a fantastic and helpful article.
As a newbie to the archiving world (I am currently in process of moving out of state, and do not trust to leave my external harddrive as my only storage device of all my photos) I am looking into buying the discs you recommended.

For ONLY digital photo storage, do you recommend Taiyo Yuden CDs or DVDs?

I have a CRAPPY old Dell laptop – do I need a special piece of equipment to burn my photos from the hard drive onto the discs, or can I use my laptop as the middleman?

Thanks so much!!!!

Put photos on DVDs. Unless you’re specifically recording CD Audio that has to work in a CD player, always use DVDs.

As for laptop burners… don’t. Laptops are really bad ad doing good burns. Buy yourself an external 5.25″ burner (or get an external 5.25″ enclosure and put a burner in it yourself). Taiyo Yuden does sell one that matches their new ISO 10995 grade archival media, but I can’t find it for sale anywhere, nor can I find the new discs for sale.

Thank you so very much for the excellent information. I’m in the process of converting priceless family video and photographs into digital copies , and want the absolute BEST archival format. I think you gave me all the info I need – just need to find a safe from Costco to throw them into!

Thanks again and keep up the great work!

Dear All,

Please visit our web-site if you are not able to locate someone who sell our ISO/IEC10995 media. We recently set up “wehre to buy function”, we will advise you our sales partner as soon as we receive your inquiries.

Best regards,
Your JVC sales team

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