Best media for optical drive testing


I’m in the early stages of developing some software for a computer recycling organization. We have a steady incoming stream of optical drives that need to be function tested for use in rebuilt systems or sale in our thrift store. Currently this is a manual process; I’m looking to automate much of it (except the physical loading of drives and discs).

In order to test the write function of CD-RW and DVD+/-RW drives, my current plan is to write a session to a rewritable disc, then read it back and verify that the data was written correctly. I would write one session for each drive tested as a quick test. The sessions (plus lead-in/out space) would fit 20 to a disc before the disc would be quick-blanked and reused. After 20 blankings (400 total drive tests), the disc would be discarded as by that point physical damage is likely and discs are cheap.

My question is what is the best CD-RW and DVD-RW media for the task? Anything with a scratch/scuff/dirt resistant coating would be a bonus.

Currently we plan to test DVD-RW and not DVD+RW. While I understand that DVD-RW may be a more error prone standard, this is actually okay – if tests fail on drives that are marginal, we want to recycle them. Also, all drives manufactured prior to 2002 and all drives that do not support both DVD-RW and DVD+RW will be recycled.

Thanks for your input!

For any RW media (CD or DVD), Verbatim would be my own choice. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the input. I used Verbatim for a long time maybe 8 years ago. Are they scratch resistant or anything like that?

Verbatim DVD-RAM media is scratch resistant IIRC, but CD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RW are not (at least not the normal sized discs).

I’d say you shouldn’t expect to use the same disc for 400 tests - it will probably sustain enough scratches and scuffs before then to work reliably.

Yeah, the more I think about it the more that number seems high, especially given the high traffic environment with a lot of different volunteers.

There is a balance, though. The phase change layer in RW media contains toxic elements, and the entire purpose of this organization is reducing toxic e-waste, so we want to discard discs as slowly as possible without sacrificing testing accuracy. I think ultimately it’ll come down to me watching how quickly the discs get destroyed and writing the software to detect when a certain disc has failed more times than it should and recommend discarding it.

I have RICOH JPN-W21-01 (8x DVD+RW) that have been used >2~3 times a week and the first batch I got in June 2006 are still going strong (bar one IIRC).
Better than the Verbatim MKM-A03-00 (again 8x DVD+RW) I got at the same time, most of which in that first lot have been lost because of the phase change layer has given up (I think). They get no TOC errors or just stop showing up as readable.

Small scratches and scuffs are not a problem as they can just be polished out.

This is the only time where I have found a Verbatim disc to come second to any other make, that is not to say that the verb’s are not good, they are a close second. Just not as good as the Ricoh are when you factor in time and heavy use.