DVD Media and Sharpie Markers

I tested out the effects of Sharpie markers on recordable media many years ago. Back then, I tested labelling CD recordable media and noticed no real differences between my CD-Rs that were not written on with a Sharpie felt tip marker (I only use the fine point ones) from those that were labelled with a Sharpie marker. This discussion came up the other day in a thread on the BenQ forum and made me want to test this out again but with DVD media.

I only tested out two discs because of a lack of time. Both discs were TDK DVD+R media (YUDEN000 T02). They also both had the exact same movie copied onto them. The first one was burned at 8x speed and the second one at 12x speed. This was to see if Sharpie markers made a difference at more than one burning speed. I first scanned the burned discs without any Sharpie writing on them. Then, I re-scanned them after writing on them with a Sharpie fine pont marker.

I conclude that contrary to my tests in years past, the Sharpies do negatively affect the discs; but only minimally so. The difference is nothing to worry about and both discs still scored very high in quality. Using Sharpies will not make your discs unreadable or anything like that. But, they do add a few errors to the disc. If anyone out there would be kind enough to test the same out, please post your scans in here. First burn your media without writing on them. Then, write on your already burned media with a Sharpie marker (fine point preferred) and re-scan them. Of course, keep the content (i.e. - movie) the same for all of your burned media and use the same media for your tests. Please do all of your error scans at the same scanning speed, in the same drive, and on the same PC system for all of your error tests as well. Feel free to test at more than one burning speed.

Here are my scans:

Maybe on printable media you won’t get any difference i don’t know as i don’t have any printable DVD’s here to test. And i guess the more ink from the sharpie you write the few more errors you get. Your scans look about the same as i got awhile back when i tested for my own curiousity. I don’t have the scans anymore but was a minimal amount of errors like you have here. Thanks for sharing!

My pleasure. :slight_smile:

All of the posted scans are well within the normal variation for scans. In other words, they are statistically insignificant unless you do a large enough sample to demonstrate consistant and unvarying results. These results could be pure chance, and you could get the same resuts by scanning the same disc over and over. Likewise, you would need to establish a unvariable amount of marking for each disc, a specific label for each test disc.

In any case, the differences in the scans are meaningless in terms of the “Readability” of the discs, they’re all great discs.

Great point rdgrimes. I was going to mention that one would need to scan each disc at least something 10 or even 20 times without the Sharpie labelling. Then, also scan the disc 10 or 20 times after labelling it with a Sharpie in order to rule out pure chance. Many of us know that each time you scan a given disc, the values will be different every single time you scan the disc. Your point is very well noted. I didn’t state such because I didn’t want to make my original post too long winded. But, thank you very much for adding your words because you’re absolutely correct in what you said.

Maybe even 20 scans are not enough to rule out statistical variance via chance. Maybe 100 or 1000 scans are closer to the amount needed to weed out chance. I did scan each disc about 10 times myself (before and after labelling) and got results that differed by around the same amount that you see in my original posted before/after labelling scans. And yes, you are also correct in that each Sharpie labelled disc has been readable. I have Sharpie labelled burned DVDs going back a little over two years now that are still very readable by a variety of home DVD players. I conclude that Sharpie fine point markers are an acceptable way to label DVD recordable media with.

Thanks again for your insightful words that I should have mentioned originally. :slight_smile:

i use the Sharpie method to label my discs…now i just need to get more colors (other than blue).

These are interesting results, however I agree that the slim variation is not really significant. It certainly won’t stop me from using a sharpie to label my discs. :smiley:

Of course the ink from the sharpie or other felt tipped pens may have adverse affects over a period of time (Like rotting through the surface into the layers). It depends on a number of factors like how thick the writable surface is and what it is made of as well as just the ink itself. I have some old CD-R’s where I used adhesive labels and over a period of time the adhesive rotted through the writable surface and made them unreadable (Well I think it was that as it seemed rather coincidental).

Once again it’s good to note that CDRs and DVDs cannot be compared, as they are constructed very differently. We have never seen a marker of any kind cause physical damage to a DVD. I suppose it’s possible, but it would have to be a hydrocarbon-based marker of some kind. Certainly not an alcohol based marker.

Best thing to use is a oilbased marker. Thats also whats written on the disc. Also use light and not heavy ink because heavy inks could change balance of the disc (thats whats being sayd but the influence of the weight of the ink is too minimal to care about in my oppinion). But labels covering only half or less of the disc will surely change balance of the disc and give you read errors.

I have a question … Is there any difference between : labeling before burning and labeling after burning ? I was labeling the Cds with the sharpie before the burning in the past and after getting some coasters , I started labeling after burning … Now, I’m labeling my DVDs after burning, I have many of them, all of them are working, I haven’t tested labeling the DVDs before burning … Any ideas ?

It is probably bad to label before because you throw off the balance of the disc ever so slightly which could cause a bad burn. Reading back is not so much a problem though.

I agree with DeadMan that it’s probably better to label after burning. But in all honesty, I have also labelled many times before burning with no problems. I think that it depends very much on your particular burner and the specific media you’re using. So I have labelled before and after burning with no known ill effects. But, DeadMan makes a good point and I think it makes sense to label after a burn. If you have a quality burner and good media, maybe it matters less?


Along this line - is it ok to use 90% alcohol to erase the sharpie image - say on a RW to remark them?


Wow I never would have guessed or thought. You’ve got a layer of plastic plus a rephlective layer for a felt tiped marker to somehow effect readability. Unless the rephlective layer was somewhat transparent I don’t see how this would even be a concideration. Obviously the Marking material itself drys quit instantly which should render it chemicaly harmless yes/no? So you are left with nothing but a reflection issue. Which means if they can’t make a efflective layer think enouph to ward off the inconsistent effects of a fiew sharpie marks then we better start demanding higher standerds from our media manufacturers.

Its no reflection issue. By writing on the disc the place you write something gets heavier thus throwing the disc out of balance. Same is with labels not covering the whole disc.

i highly doubt that the ink from a sharpie (unless you write all over the whole label side - i mean completely cover it) will affect the balance of the disc whatsoever. the discs are inherently unbalanced anyway (there’s no way that each and every disc out of MILLIONS produced is perfectly balanced). the nanograms of the ink from a sharpie isn’t gonna make any difference whatsoever.

Yeah its too minimal but some experts say it does…but small labels do…

I would suspect that completly covering the media would be better then the righting on one side of the disc for the sake of balance. This issue does not cause me concern. I got into this post cause it sounded as though there was some implication to a physcical threat chemicaly from the sharpie to the data which I could not see how that would be possible.

Well the physical threat would be the Ink of the pen you use destroying the protective layer (something like melting the layer) and then destroy the dye.