Best external CD/DVD-Writer OR best internal Writer AND external case combination for data backup/archival with generic good media?



hi all,

I am sorry to post a presumably very common question, but searching the forums, I have not found any precise answer and the F.A.Q. for PC DVD-Writers explicitly encourages to post this question here, as it states that there is no best DVD Writer as there are several different use cases - without listing decent Writers for the different use cases.

My Question:

  • Could you please recommend a decent external DVD Writer (i.e. external DVD-Writer OR a decent internal-DVD-Writer + External case/controller combination) for data backups / archival purposes?

Further specifications of the question (why I did not find a satisfying answer):

  • I do not require scientific data about what “the best” DVD writer is. I merely would like to know which one is decent (not crappy) for archival data longevity purposes.
  • I would like to burn data for backup / archival reasons. I would like to burn a cheap daily backup cd or dvd of my data (TY CD-R or something like that) and every few weeks an “archival copy” of my data (redundant copies on several different possibly expensive media (Verbatim DVD-R Archival Grade, DVD-Ram, etc)). There should be the highest possible chance that each and every version (i.e. every snapshot of my data) is readable after 5 (better even 10) years without me having to copy or scan the media every few months.
  • I would like to burn the data on: Taiyo Yuden CD-R, Verbatim DataLife Plus, Taiyo Yuden DVD-R, Verbatim Archival Grade DVD-R, Verbatim 3x DVD-RAM, Panasonic 3x DVD-RAM, TDK 3x DVD-RAM.
  • These media are all (with the possible exception of the Verbatim DataLife Plus) fairly decent for data longevity purposes?
  • The Writer should produce decent (not best, nor super-duper premium) results on every of those media. I.e. there should be a really high chance that the data is readable without an error after 5 years and a fairly high chance that the data is readable without an error after 10 years if stored standing vertically in jewel cases or slim cases in a dark cabinet or with CD-sleeves in a CD suitcase, without extreme humidity nor heat levels nor much dust and without being touched, moved or scanned in those years.
  • The writer should produce optical media which can be read on almost every CD or DVD Reader after 5 or 10 years.
  • The writer should be able able to perform media tests with Nero CD-DVD Speed or something similar and provide meaningful (i.e. trustworthy) results so I can have some kind of insurance from a scan performed directly after the burning process that the data loss risk is low.
  • I do not care about Audio or Video Ripping, copy protection, Audio or Video writing or compatibility with non-pc audio-cd or video-DVD-Players.
  • I do not want necessarily “the best” writer, but it should be good enough for the described task (at the moment, I have a Samsung SH183A which does not provide an easy accessible scanning feature and is reported in these forums to produce bad results on DVD-R, which I would like to use as the Verbatim Archival Grade DVD-R has a very good reputation).
  • I cannot buy an internal drive, as my computer case is extremely small (µATX) (the reason why I bought the very short Samsung SH183A drive).
  • As I would like to get an external drive, this would have to be a readily assembled DVD-Writer or an IDE/SATA-Writer and an external case combination. I am not much interested in separate IDE/SATA -Writer or external casing recommendations, as the combination of those also seems to produce different results. I am not a CD/DVD tinkerer, but merely would like to write some data which I will be able to read reliably in 5 or 10 years.
  • The recommendation of such a “decent drive” should have a fairly high consensus in this forum, i.e. there should not be many people around here who would regard the recommended drive as total crap for the described data longevity backup/archival task.

Since I did not find satisfying solutions to this rather simple, common and generic task, I have become skeptical: Is this possible at all? Is there a drive which can burn data reliably on different media for almost all drives to read and on most/all decent media (e.g. the ones listed above) if there is no extreme media abuse in those years?

Or is CD/DVD-Burning backup/archival purposes on optical media a rather esoteric topic since there are no drives/media which are good enough for this task?

I would guess that this task is rather common and not very extreme?

Thank you very much for any information!


Is the LiteOn DX-20A4PU-02C any good?

Will I be able to use decent media like Taiyo Yuden CD-R, Verbatim DataLife Plus, Taiyo Yuden DVD-R, Verbatim Archival Grade DVD-R, Verbatim 3x DVD-RAM, Panasonic 3x DVD-RAM, TDK 3x DVD-RAM with the LiteOn DX-20A4PU-02C and be fairly sure not to loose data after storing it for 5 to 10 years on a dark and not extremely hot place?


Hello CaptainWillard

Welcome to CD-Freaks :flower:

When you check out my signature you’ll see I have also only small computers or Notebooks :iagree: . But all my burners are basically internal devices.

You wrote you’re looking for a good CD/DVD burner with scanning capabilities. You also wrote the SH-S183A drive you have does not provide treliable scnanning results. That is true. In my opinion the SH-S183A is not a bad drive. I also have a burner of this series, a SH-S182M. If you are looking for a quality scan capable drive you should check the LiteOn drives. But as far as I know the LiteOns are only good for DVD scanning, not CD. Goot CD and DVD scanner were the old real BenQ drives (i.e. Dw1640, DW1650, DW1655) or the real Plextor drives (i.e. PX-716, PX-755, PX-760). Unfortunately this drives are no longer in production and you must have a lot luck to get one of this drives in new condition.

Good burners (without scanning capabilities) are in my opinion the Pionees DVR-115 or the Samsung SH-S202 (IDE) or DVR-215 and SH-203 (SATA). I have the IDE versions of both drives and I’m happy with it.

If you are looking for an external drive you will not find a lot external drives on the market. I guess there is LG and Samsung offering external drives. But you do not have the choice of so much drives from a lot different manufacturers.
If you buy an internal drive and an external enclosure you have a lot more option. Unfortunately there are sometimes compatibility problems between the drives and the USB/Firewire bridge chipsets used in the external enclosures. Unfortunately there is no “perfect chipset” in my opinion.

But if I were you I’d get an external enclosure and a normal internal drive. You have a lot more drives you can choose.

At the moment it is easier to find external enclosures with internal IDE interface. Maybe an internal burner with IDE is a better option.

For backups I guess a good quality media and a good burner will produce reliable backups. For very important data it could be an option to store the data on two media or DVD-R and DVD-RAM or something like that. Also an external hardrive or NAS could be an additional option for storing valuable data. It is different to find a reliable backup strategy that does not cost the big money.

I do my backups on CD/DVD-R (or DVD+R), DVD-RAM (cardridge type) and store my data also on my RAID-5 NAS server. I’m sure on one of this sources my data will survive the next few years :slight_smile:


Thank you very much, TM!

So there does not seem to be an easy and universal answer to the question which drive is really suitable for archival purposes - in contrast to the media question, where TY CD-R and Verbatim Archival Grade DVD-R seem to be quite reliable. I really miss a drive manufacturer who offers an especially reliable drive for archiving purposes and would gladly pay a few more bucks for that one - just for not having to read so much about the technical details and to be able to sleep well at night :-). I guess the old Plextor drives occupied that market segment.

In order not to put all eggs into one basket, I will try to diversify a bit - although of course not nearly as much as you drive wise :).

Since you stated that there is no perfect external case controller I am far too scared regarding the internal drive + controller combination choice: if a real optical media guru like yourself say that there are no easy answers, than I will not go there and take the external drive route instead.

Additionally to my existing internal SH-S183A, I have now bought a used external Plextor CD Writer/Reader on ebay and will purchase an new external LiteOn DX-20A4PU drive:

So I would have a DVD-Scanner (Liteon) and CD-Scanner (Plextor) with which I can scan from time to time a disk straight after burning to see if the drive/media combination does make any sense.

With those three drives I will write TY CD-R, Verbatim Archival Grade DVD-R, Taiyo Yuden DVD-R (TYG03) and Verbatim + Panasonic DVD-RAM (with the Plextor only CD-R of course). Additionally I will provide some parity information with par2. But that does not help if the file system structure of the media isn’t readable any more.

Some of the media will be put in a fire-proof deposit box (very low temperature variation and absolute darkness) together with some silica gel to reduce the humidity within the box - but they have to be stored horizontally not vertically in there.

A NAS-Server dedicated for backups sounds really nice. I am dreaming of a 3-way RAID-1 NAS-Server with Opensolaris installed which provides software checksumming against hard drive bit rot with the Solaris ZFS file system. But unfortunately it is just a dream.

I guess the ultimate backup solution would be some kind of tape backup plus two or three thumpers as a nas servers with zfs on different locations:
But of course the price tag has too many zeros at the end.

Thank you so much for your advice!


Hello again CaptainWillard!

You are also from Germany? You linked a german online shop address, that is the reason I’m asking. In this case I may have a few hints.

KM Electronic sometimes offers Plextor DVD bruners (PX-760A or PX-760SA) to fair prices (80-100€ range). This drives are new. I guess this drives were exchanged drives by Plextor. Also real BenQ’s are sometimes available. The last drives they had were black refurbished DW1655.
Unfortunately KM Electronic did not have Plextor drives since a few month. But Arlt had a PX-716A a few weeks available online, and I missed this drive… :a …anyway. If you look continously I’m pretty sure you’ll find a Plextor DVD burner in new condition and a normal price…
But BenQ drives are not such expensive at eBay. You can get a good BenQ DW1640/1650/1655 for ~20€. That is not a lot money I think.


Thanks a lot!
I have already ordered the external Liteon, but I will also look for the BenQ and the Plextor at kmelektronik regularly (not available today).