Burn Errors in DVD-R: Bad Disks? Or Bad DVD Burner?

From time to time I’ll burn a back-up copy of one of my DVDs on a hand-me-down patched together PC running Windows XP. I’m a disabled senior on a very limited income, so I get most of my movies from yard sales, thrift stores, and the like, so few of them are in pristine condition.

Even so, in the year or so that I’ve been burning DVDs, I’ve seldom had a bad burn. Until this last week.

The last two DVDs I burned had playback errors where the picture would briefly break up into that digital checkerboard effect (what do you call that, anyway?) and the sound would skip.

However when I play the same scene from the original, albeit scratched up disk, the scene plays fine.

So, my question is: How to figure out the source of these burn errors. There are two factors I can immediately think of:

  1. I just got a new batch of Memorex DVD-Rs from Amazon.com. The label side of these DVD-Rs is completely different from the last batch of Memorex DVD-Rs I got last year at about this time. The ones from last year had a pattern of tiny squares covering the whole surface of the label side of the DVD-R, whereas the label side of the new DVD-Rs is blank, except for “MEMOREX DVD-R 16X 4.7 GB 120 min” printed across the center of the disk.

The DVD-Rs containing the errors are all burned onto disks from this second batch of disks.

So I’m wondering if Memorex may have changed manufacturers and I’ve ended up with a bad batch of disks.

  1. To complicate matters, my old “spit and bailing wire” PC has been acting up lately, sometimes taking multiple boot attempts before it will run properly, and even then, sometimes it will freeze up and I’ll have to unplug it to shut it down. So the problem could be in the computer, not in the disks.

I’m using DVD Shrink to back-up the DVDs, and it doesn’t report any errors during the back-up process.

One test would be to burn the same movies onto a different brand of DVD, and see if the same playback errors occur. So, If I decide to go this route, I’d be grateful for you advice on the most reliable burnable DVD brand.

I’d also appreciate any other ideas you might have on how to isolate and correct this problem.

Will in Seattle
a.k.a. “Clueless”

Hey Will :slight_smile:

Since Memorex do use many different manufacturers to make their discs, it is entirely possible that the pixelation and sound skipping that you’re now getting is media-related. :iagree:

I’d say your safest bet would be to buy some Verbatim discs - if the ones you buy are 16x, then I’d burn at 8x.

That’s the brand and burn speed I’ve been using for quite some time now, and not a coaster to be had (well…that wasn’t due to user error, anyway ;)).

Based on your description, seems that the main culprit is the disc. Memorex, even if cheap, is not a quality disc. Too bad, the only solution is to get only quality discs like Verbatim. No drive can transform a coaster into a good DVD :frowning:

Even if an unstable machine is certainly not a good thing, I think that you can verify quickly if the cause is due to Memorex discs or not. Try to burn a couple of Verbatim discs and see if this solve.

If Verbatim media are too costly for you, try to find the best burning speed for the memorex media you already have.

Another possibility is that your burner is already at the end of its life, so you need to buy a new drive.

Finally, it is possible that indeed you got a batch of discs produced by a different manufacturer, so it could be sufficient to update the firmware of your burner.

Thanks Arachne and geno888!

You’ve given me some good ideas. I didn’t even know that a DVD drive had firmware or that it needed regular updating. So I’ll check that first. I’ve had that DVD burner for over a year, and it was already used when I got it, so who knows how old it is. And I seldom take that PC online so it’s unlikely that the firmware ever updated itself automatically. I only crank up that balky beast occasionally and then only to burn DVDs, and it seems to prefer having nothing going on in the background while it’s burning.

Then I’ll see if I can figure out how to tell DVD Shrink to burn at a slower speed and try re-burning one of the movies that had errors.

If that doesn’t clear up the problem, I’ll buy a small number of Verbatim DVD-Rs and see if I get a better burn.

If I do, I’ll try to get Amazon.com to take back the remainder of the 100 pack of Memorex disks in exchange for a spindle of Verbatims (wish me luck!).

And if none of the above works, it looks like I’ll start shopping for a slightly less used DVD burner (and/or computer).

Hi again!

I found the last firmware update for my DVD burner and downloaded it. The firmware file was dated 2007 so it’s been over two years since the last update. The web page said that the burner is no longer supported but that I can try using the old firmware at my own risk. It self installed without a hitch.

I found the setting in DVD Shrink to burn at 8x instead of 16x.

I then burned a second back-up of one of the DVDs that didn’t burn properly the first time around.

I just played the scene that had the pixelation (is that what you call it when the image breaks up into a digital checker board?). That scene played perfectly.

So, perhaps you folks have solved my problem, and I can continue using these less than stellar Memorex DVD-Rs. But next year, when it’s time to order another batch, I’ll order Verbatims instead.

In the meantime, I’ll try re-burning the other movie that messed up, to see if I can get a decent copy of it too. The main reason I make the back-ups (in addition to protecting my investment in the original DVDs) is that I find so annoying the menus and logos and animations and music that they stick onto the front end of the movies and force you to sit through when all you want to do is just watch the danged movie. So I use the “re-author” option in DVD Shrink and just copy the movie without all the annoying bells and whistles. Then, when I put the burned DVD into my player, the movie automatically starts at the first frame of the opening credits, as if I were watching it in a movie house.

Thanks again, and thanks for being so patient with my prattling on like this.

Now if I could only find a forum as helpful as this one where I could get help figuring out how to network two computers, one running Win 2K and the other XP. My solution is to just reformat the HD in the XP machine and install 2K instead.

I just checked the second DVD-R that I burned at the lower rate and it appears to have come out fine. I checked one of the scenes that had contained errors in the earlier burn, and it played just fine this time. I didn’t have time to watch the entire film so I can’t say for sure that the entire burn was successful, but based on the what I did look at I’m fairly confident that you’ve solved my problem for me.

Many thanks! This website has got to be one of the most helpful places on the web.

Glad the burns are coming out OK now :clap:

Even with something like Memorex, it is possible to get an OK burn if you just lower the speed a couple of notches, as you’ve found :iagree:…but you still have the option of trying Verbatim if your next Memorex batch is from yet another manufacturer :wink:

You’re very welcome BTW :slight_smile:

EDIT: Regarding networking your PCs - if you ask here in the Newbie forum again, I’m sure we can help you sort that out too :flower: