CD-Rs in Africa: which one is the best?


I’m going to be freelancing in Africa for 1 year, taking photographs and posting them back on CD every week to a magazine (email connections are too slow to send high quality images by internet). I’m trying to decide which CD-Rs I should buy (in bulk) before I leave: Taiyo Yuden 52x (from Rima), or MAM-A Gold Archival.

I will also be mailing a CD home to store my photographs (to archive them), so I would like something stable (it seems that Taiyo Yuden dyes aren’t as stable to heat/rough environmental conditions).

Also, since I will be taking one primary CD burner into the field, it would be nice if my CDs didn’t give my burner a hard time (I am told MAM’s gold on gold CDs can be quite difficult on the burner due to gold’s reflectivity). Also, from reading posts, it seems that Mitsui’s CDs don’t match up to their reputation anymore. Are they more stable than Taiyo Yuden?

Speed of burning isn’t an issue. I want reliable storage, and something that resists humidity and temperature, so they will withstand travel as well as mailing from remote places in Africa.

I have been reading posts all day, and can’t figure out which of MAM-A and TY would be best for me!



Oh I should mention, I will probably be using a Delkin Burnaway drive to burn my CDs. Unless someone has a better suggestion. Again, I need ruggedness, and I will need to burn CDs directly from Compact Flash cards.


My suggestion would be Verbatim Data Life Plus (“Super Azo”) with the robust “Crystal” top coating. But whatever CD-R you purchase, make sure your burner likes them by doing a C1/C2 scan or read transfer test of a sample. Also, considering the unreliable mail system in some parts of Africa, I’d suggest to make at least two copies of each CD. CD-R are really dirt cheap these days…

Taiyo Yuden, Taiyo Yuden and lastly Taiyo Yuden,

did i forget to mention Taiyo Yuden?

Could you perhaps respond to my concerns about the stability of Taiyo Yuden?

stability? Taiyo yuden make the best media simple as that the most stable media ive ever used :slight_smile:

Yes but apparently the dye they use (cyanine) is not very stable in hot conditions, whereas the mitsui dye is more stable?

well ive said all i can on the matter

The absolute best stability with regard to environmental factors can be had with Gold/phthalocyanine combination. See NIST’s stability study
I know that some parts of Africa feel like stepping into an oven, but at least it’s generally a lot less humid than e.g. in SE Asia. I don’t think you’ll run into trouble with either (stabilized) cyanine like Taiyo Yuden, AZO or phthalocyanine if you stay there just for a year. If you can find Gold/phthalo CDs (not easy these days), try them with your burner. Otherwise, give Verbatim Data Life Plus a try. I’ve used nearly a thousand of them (oldest are 7 years old) and haven’t had any problems.

I would recommend Phtalo/Gold if your burner has no problems with them (but maybe difficult to find god ones nowadays). 2nd choice would be Verbatim CD-Rs with SuperAZO dye. Ty would be 3rd choice.
On the other hand if you only get some 3rd quality Phtalo/Gold discs better go with Verbatim SuperAZO type discs.

also be sure to do some test burns with the unit before leaving, to be sure it likes the media you select.

also you might consider making some good storage provisions for your media. Such as a small cooler chest, with some silica gel packets inside (you can redry them in ovens carefully every so often.
Keep the media out of sunlight and direct heat .

Finally email is NOT the only way to send images by the internet.
You once you access the internet, you can use FTP to send to an FTP site you have pre-arranged. Also there are other ways of Uploading files to the internet. such as file sharing services, HTTP file transfer programs etc.

It doesn’t take that long to send something. Especiallywhen you consider that that CDs you mail may very well just DISAPPEAR in the nightmare of Africa logistics. What makes you think mailing a CD from Africa will mean your valuable photos are safe ? I used to live in Africa, for well over a year, and I can assure you, mail in africa is not safe in any way, shape or form. Unless you are going to the airport (intern’l airport) and DIRECTLY handing packages to a FedEX office, … don’t even think about expecting your packages to arrive at intended destination.

If you make enough money to work there a year on photo job, then you make enough money to transfer the files via the web. That is the ONLY way to insure they get out of Africa in proper condition.

That was my thought as well. Not too hot, soft and dry - obviously away from sun.

I’d think any decent media would do fine but since it’s important you might as well buy good solid stuff aka TY/Verbatim.

A web backup is a good idea if you get the chance. Sign up for a gmail account and you should have enough space. Write here if you need one :slight_smile:

Interesting, thanks for the advice. I really have no idea what conditions are like on the ground in Africa, but CD seemed a reliable form of storage just because I don’t trust external hard drives (I’ve had a number of them crash, and my internal laptop hard drive is too small for a year of high resolution photos).

As for FTP, I had considered it, but given the slow internet speeds I thought it would take hours to transfer a single decent resolution photo (25 megs at least), and that the process would probably time out and not work for me. Am I wrong or is it reasonably easy to find high speed internet connections in Africa? Also, do you know any good sites that would let me set up an FTP account?

I thought post would be almost everywhere in Africa, and if I used priority/registered mail, I would manage to get my files back home. But I assumed African post would be reasonably reliable if I paid the extra amount. Is this untrue?

Frankly, I’m making all this logistics up, sitting in my room, with no idea about what conditions on the ground in Africa will be like.

What do you think the best way to store and send photos to a magazine would be?


Also, henry, where in Africa did you live? I’ll be going through guinea, chad, niger, congo, nigeria etc…

The following URL from Kodak tested CDRs at temperatures and humidity much higher than you’ll likely ever encounter. If you do, all I can say is, you poor poor bastard.

The basic summary is, you won’t have ANY problems.

Your only problem is:

1- Deciding the best way to mail them out. Put them in a cd case, and a bubble envelope around the case and mail that. Africa may not have bubble envelopes. If it’s really important, use Fedex or DHL, if not important send it registered mail one from a different location on a different day to avoid tempting fate (both items in same bag). Once in a while you might find a cybercafe and could upload some really important images to a webspace (or gmail). You are likely to find cybercafes in Nigeria no problem. I for example, am well known in Africa and Nigeria in particular, for my skill and expertise at handling international financial transactions.

I work a postal counter fairly often, and I have once in a while gotten complaints about mail that never arrived, and it was always mail going to some backwater 3rd world country.

2- Maxell CD-R Pro’s (Note the Pro) have good strong ceramic coating on the top layer and they’re taiyo yuden OEM, but I think you’d be better off getting a portable dvd burner instead because of the polycarbonate layer on both sides instead of just one like CDRs, plus you’ll have the ability to watch DVD movies on your laptop.

Lastly, don’t have sex with anyone. There are more people with AIDs in sub-saharan Africa than anyone else in the world. I read somewhere that 50% of Botswana or something is projected to die soon due to AIDs infection. The whole region is just one huge AIDS hotspot.

I live in SE Asia. As I am typing it is 32 celsius in my room. Humidity ranges from about 65-75%. I’m not sure how these match up to the conditions in Africa but hopefully they won’t be this humid.

I’ve often read studies and reports which claim that phthalocyanine dyes are the most stable and found that to not be quite true. I have CDs with all kinds of various dye/reflective layer combinations. I’ve had pththalocyanine discs which are unreadable after a few years and others which work. And curiously enough, virtually all of the cyanine dye discs I have work fine, some are about 5 years old, even the cheapest stuff I burned. The pththalocyanine disks which died tend to be really cheap ones. So if you’re going to get pththalocyanine disks, go for better quality ones. The cheapo ones don’t seem to survive well, at least in these conditions here.

AZO dye disks are good too. I’ve got lots of Mitsubishi and Verbatims lying around. The oldest is 10 years old and it still reads fine.

So if you’re worried that those taiyo yuden disks and Mitsubishi/Verbatim, don’t. I don’t know about quality control issues of course.

My friend was in UN peacekeeping forces in Eritrea and they used quite much CDs for archiving digiphotos and videoclips…
I don’t know what different discs they used but he didn’t say nothing that there would have been any problems. (at least in shorter time)

Blanks are so cheap that IMO it’s always, no matter where you’re travelling, best to make one extra disc which you keep with yourself if you intend to post photos to home in CDs.
(or at least store that back up disc until you know “original” is safely in its destination)

What poor?
In sauna everything under 80°C is too cold… 90°C is better and 100°C (~210°F) good. :bigsmile:

I’ll be going through guinea, chad, niger, congo, nigeria etc…

Geez, forget about using internet in those countries! Snail mail or Fedex is your best bet, only problem is that the postal workers will get really curious when they feel a CD in the envelope. Even in South Africa it is a high risk to post such things.
Verbatim should do well… just make sure you have a good supply and store them in a good and safe environment. Last thing you would want is having them (and your PC/laptop) stolen while on your trip. I think Nigeria is the only country out of those where you would be able to find new CD-R’s (with relative ease.)

Your best bet is certainly diversification. CD-Rs are so cheap… if it were me, I’d mail back one of each of the following: 1 TY, 1 Kodak 650mb Gold (sweet old stock, I have a box), and 1 MBI. I’d contact a person at the other end to see which (if any) failed during shipment.
Also, I’d lock up the disc with at least some form of password protection. Make sure to test it before leaving on both ends. Finally, I’d only ship Fedex. USPS loses enough of my shipments inside the US, I’d shudder to think what using the mail from somewhere in Africa would be like.

Best of luck. Enjoy your journey!