DVD Technology. A retrospective

Now that I’ve been working with home DVD authoring for a few years, and have gone though all the hurtles and played the trivia games involved in this pioneering development, there are just a few things I want to get off my chest.

First, the technology is amazing. The picture quality is unbeatable. The price is very economical.

My biggest concern, and it’s a big one for me, are the problems with the burnable DVD media (yah, kind of important). What is with this stuff? Do you remember when CDs became burnable? There were very few compatibility issues and I can still listen to the cheapest CDs I burned back in 1997 with no problems.

My DVDs are deteriorating all over the place! What happened to all that hype about “Preserve your memories, transfer your home videos to DVD so they’ll last forever!” Ha! I am now the proud owner of no less than 30+ DVD+R discs in my archive, burned less than two years ago, and are completely useless. Oh yah, they worked great after I burned them, but at some point the harsh conditions of room temperature and case storage had eaten away the reflective data layer. I can’t believe I’ve worked around all the book-type and udf/iso file system problems, the endless trips to Circuit City and popping the disc in every player they had, only to get halted by the faulty manufacturing of the blank media.

I’ve always kept up on “what’s the best kind of DVD media” on the internet. First it was Ritek, then when Taiyo Yuden came out that’s what everybody likes. Only then did they start talking about “archival-quality dye”. So what does that make everything before that??? Everybody seems to like Verbatim. Back in my trial days a few years ago I bought 3 Verbatim DVDs and never wanted to buy Verbatim again.

So yah, I do lots of wedding and bar-mitzvah videos and a few years ago everybody wanted to go DVD, so did I, and so I did. At first I would always deliver with a VHS “backup” but over time, people didn’t even want VHS anymore and it seemed dead. So I stopped for a while… Until the DVDs started deteriorating. So now I’ve gone back to an early 80s technology as a fallback for flakey millennium technology.

And adhesive labels? Ooooh, bad. Eats away the data layer. So I just got an R200. Hopefully we don’t find that printer ink eats away data layers also.

So what about all those clients who entrusted me in preserving their memories? Now I’m wondering if I should be contacting all of them and having them send their discs back to me so I can do something to preserve them before ol’ Father Time turns their precious memories into coasters. If it’s not too late, that is. It might be my only option even though it will cost me time/money.

Ok, so I shouldn’t have gotten Prinko or other weird cheep media. Luckily, none of my clients got those POS discs. At the time, the forums said they worked fine. And they did… for about 3 months.

My god, I don’t even want to THINK about Double-Layer discs and the entourage of problems they’ll inevitably bring. I could really use that technology right about now but I won’t until more people have tested them…… and let them sit for a while and see if they still work (hummmm…SEMI reflective layer… that sounds like it’ll last). Besides, videohelp.com is saying that only 66% of home DVD players will play DVD+R DL discs. It’s worse for DVD-R DL: only 44%!!! I simply can’t deliver with that kind of reliability.

Anyway, sorry for this rant, but I would like to hear what people think about the evolution of the burnable DVD format.

P.S. What happened to +R being more compatible? Apparently not any more. I wonder if –R is more archiveable as well???

DVDs deteriorating all over the place? The discs you’ve been using probably sucked in the first place, or the burner sucked and burned them poorly in the first place.

+R compatibility vs. -R? It’s AT LEAST as compatible, and in all likelyhood more compatible, than -R when bitset to -ROM.

Adhesive Labels? Yeah don’t use them with DVDs, whether it’s an issue of the extra weight putting the discs out of balance or what, I don’t know.

Being successful with DVD burning isn’t as simple as CD burning, the tolerances of the technology are much tighter vs. CD. If it was easy to get good results, forums like these at cdfreaks wouldn’t have thousands and thousands of threads on burn quality scans, media quality, burner quality, firmware upgrades, etc. etc.

I have burned over 2000 discs, once you get ‘dialed in’ on what combinations of burner/firmware/media works well, having failed burns is very uncommon and I have literally only a handful of coasters out of all of those burns. This includes mostly cheapo media, you just have to find what combinations work well. Any time I buy a new spindle, I test several of the discs on different burners and firmware versions if necessary to find out their burn quality with PI/PO scans and I save the scans for reference. I may burn a couple of coasters in the process, but once I’ve found a good combination I stick with it and very rarely encounter any problems down the road. This even includes very cheap media like Yi Jhan, AML, MUST, SKC, fake MCC and fake TY, Longten, etc. Even with crap like that I have found reasonable combinations with almost all the discs, I have the luxury of several different burners that excel at cheap media (NEC and Benq). And I’ve burned more CMC than any other discs, some people claim that CMC is crap but CMC burns great unless your burner/firmware is crap. It’s extremely reliable on all of my burners.

It sounds like your first problem was using Princo, discs that are well known to deteriorate over time. I’ve only used a small amount of Princo, and most of them are still fine but some of them have become unreadable. I’ve seen this with Optodisc as well, fortunately I’ve only used a few of those discs.

Dye-based DVDs don’t really deteriorate. At least not as fast as some people want to think. It should take decades at minimum, longer if we’re lucky.

Thinking that a disc has died is a bad conclusion drawn from not having all the facts in almost all cases. DVD technology is not black and white, but many shades of gray. Laser life, the reflectivivity of the dye against a certain laser, storage conditions, physical conditions of the media, and up-front verification are far more important and likely than a supposed “dying disc”.

Not all readers, burners and players will read all discs. It’s really that easy. This is mostly an issue with crap media that burned “okay” but is still difficult to read.

Storage can affect the warping and condition of the internal and external materials. If you store it badly, the disc didn’t die, you killed it. These are not indestructible. They are only a thin piece of plastic, metal and some goop in the middle.

Several years ago we didn’t really have the ability to test media like we can now, so nobody tested their discs 2-3-4 years ago. It just didn’t happen. So people thought they made good burns, but it never was. People often claim “but I know I watched it months/years ago and it was perfect” but those same people often can’t tell me what they ate for breakfast 2 weeks ago, so that claim is highly suspect.

Basically, 99 out of every 100 people that say “my data disappeared” are having other problems. Find it. Don’t settle on the easy (and likely wrong) assumption.

Phase change media is different. The DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs. Those can develop craters in the materials fairly quick, in a few months or years. Used or not. It happens. Those are meant to be temp discs anyway, not long-term storage. If you use DVD-RW or DVD+RW for data backups, better quit it. It may not be there when you need it.

Apparently, some discs of mine (G04 & G05 bought in 2005) are not aware of this, so out of ignorance perhaps, they joyfully turn into coasters in a three weeks to six months time. And yes, they gave excellent scans to begin with.

While their shelve companions (MCC02RG20, TYG02, MCC03RG20, TDKTTG02, AND G04 & G05 bought in 2004), stored in the exact same conditions, same place, same boxes, know about the rule and seem to be as good as new.

Maybe my degrading discs would need some education? :confused:

Sorry to be slightly sarcastic Lordsmurf, I get your point, but there ARE discs that burn perfectly well (at least apparently: good quality scans, perfect transfert rate, no playability problems) and get unreadable at a very fast rate, including some simply stored and not even played.

I think your conclusions are not sound. There are so many different variables to consider. Those organic dyes don’t have a great reflectivity. So while your burner has aged, it’s lost the ability to see those more stubborn discs. Lasers would be a player here.

Just so many things that people want to overlook. Jump to the easy answer…

My old burner, my three new burners, my strandalone recorder (JVC DRM10, thanks to you :flower: ), my standalone player, my DVD-ROM drive…?

Not a very convincing explanation for me.

I do agree with your idea that many people jump to conclusions without taking enough things into account. But sometimes, the simplest explanation CAN be the best one. Would it be only to get rid of the problem. :bigsmile:


Are you aware that discs must be stored away from light, bewteen 20 and 35 °C, between 50% to 60% humidity?

Both heat and humidity will accelerate the aging process. Actually it’s more humidity that is the enemy, heat only makes things worse (unless you heat the discs to over 50°c but this is another story :bigsmile: ).

We have a member here whose discs die in several months, even the best ones, because he lives in a very damp environment (85% humidity). See THIS THREAD. Incidentally this thread has lots of interesting input about DVD stability over time. Dakhaas is one of or most knowledgable members in this area.

Also if the burns are marginal right from the start there are more chances that problems arise sooner (see the Media FAQ).

Dual layer? I personally wouldn’t allow one near my burners, too marginal burns for my taste even with the best ones (Verbatim MKM).

Thanks for the info guys. I never thought about the burner and firmware being a factor. I probably burned those problem discs on my rather primitive sony DVD+R drive (I think its the first one they made). I’ve been using a BENQ for about a year and a half now and its awesome.

Thanks for the sorage conditions. I’ll try my best to keep my archive in ideal conditions, although getting my clients to do the same will be a bit more difficult.

Yeah I can also relate to what you’re talking about nolan. The thing to remember about digital media like DVD’s is that their great stength is that they can tolerate a certain amount of degradation and a certain error level without giving any reduction at all in the actual playback quality. Unfortunately this great strength can also be a source of great problems too.

The problem is that too many people are completely unaware of the error levels on their DVD media. With analog media like VHS tapes any deterioration is immediately apparent in playback quality but with DVD’s they may be deteriorating over time with no outward signs in playback. Then one day the error levels exced some threshold and the disc can no longer be read without CRC errors and you’re basically screwed.

Anyway the best thing you can do is to make sure you have burner that fully supports PI/PIF scanning and then you can really keep track of how your media is doing and know for sure when you’ve got something marginal.

Don’t you just love it when newbies tell us our DVDrs aren’t going bad or it’s in some way our own fault our DVDrs are going bad. Why not listen to those with experience for a change and admit there is a serious problem with nearly all DVDr media and it’s life appears to be severly limited.

The only way to keep your data secure appears to be to record to at least two different makes of DVDr and scan every 6 months. Not good for someone in your position, but the only way you can trust. I’m afraid that I go further than that and have a dedicated plug in hard drive for my memories.Maybe blueray will last a bit longer and be more reliable, DVDr has turned out to be for temporary storage only (IMHO)

:eek: Uh. Lordsmurf neither is a newbie nor an inexperienced user :disagree:. You don’t seem to know the Videohelp forum much. :confused:

Lordsmurf has a different vision of why things may go wrong with our discs. I disagree with several of his opinions but he’s definitly not someone to be patronized. :disagree:

If there’s a source of data you absolutely must keep at all costs - given all the things that can go wrong - then all you can do is periodically re-record it using the best media you can get your hands on. That’s the only fool-proof strategy with production discs (discs you make money from).

By all means, as a sideline and away from your business, you can investigate different media and keep track on all the issues of life-span, media burning and quality control as that will arm you with information that might make your life easier. But leaving to speculation that your discs will be alright is not a good way to protect your business.



Wow. Thanks for the info. A nice big hard drive to copy my video_ts folders to just might be the only shure backup solution… then at least i’ll have a solution for when the angry clients start calling me in a few years.

Don’t trust hard drives either - they’re not so great in the reliability front, unless you fork out for enterprise-level stuff!

I’m in agreement through - media these days is getting progressively worse IMO - that’s partly the reason why I’m still sticking quite closely to my CD-R’s for important data and avoiding DVD’s where possible - at least in the early days of CD-R’s it was a clear cut decision: Kodak good, Japan good, Taiwan bad (except for mitsubishi). These days, with manufacturers from all over the place, faking media codes and all sorts of rubbish, we have no sure-fire way to tell that our discs are going to be good.

Back in the CD-R days, discs were also consistent for manufacturers - TY always made good discs. Mitsubishi always made pretty good discs. Ricoh always made pretty good discs, CMC always made pretty mediocre/bad discs. You wouldn’t buy a spindle of what you thought was fairly good media from RiTEK and have half the discs fail to finish burning!

These days it’s the complete opposite - you can fish around looking for some high-quality media, only to find that this particular spindle won’t even burn, while the other one you bought at exactly the same time produced very pleasant results! Given the number of mediocre burns i’ve had with my limited DVD burning experiences, on discs that I have selected for somewhat superior quality to many others, I’m very disappointed. Sure, it might be write strategy - but that’s all the more reason for the manufacturer and supplier webs to be more transparent.

I’d like to see three things:
a) a universal disc grading system, which all manufacturers must adhere to, and include their grade on the packaging. Any manufacturers who didn’t release their own media grades could be considered unreliable, and would hopefully get flushed out of the market.
b) all discs labelled on packaging with their OEM manufacturer. So on your Memorex spindles, it would have a CMC logo or similar.
c) passing laws to make it completely illegal to fake media ID codes.

It’s unlikely to happen, but heck - wouldn’t it be nice if you saw on your online store, and on the packaging for your discs:
-) Taiyo Yuden DVD+R 50pc Spindle (5-star, Taiyo Yuden)
-) Taiyo Yuden DVD+R 50pc Spindle (4-star, Taiyo Yuden)
-) RiTEK DVD-R 50pc Spindle (4-star, RiTEK)
-) Fujifilm 50pc DVD-R Spindle (4-star, Prodisc)

Then we’d all be swimming in decent media. It’d be nice if manufacturers would compete for quality, as opposed to price - but then, we are few of a kind - the general population don’t have a clue what discs are quality or not :frowning:


I’ve burned thousands of DVDs from all of the major manufacturers and NEVER had the kind of variation/unreliability talked about here. I’ve used a variety of hardware and media to burn with over the years. At least half of my discs are over 1 year old. I recently scanned my DVDs in storage (I do backups for the company I work for) and absolutely every one of the discs scanned were intact. Some of them were out of spec but every bit of data was retrivable by a standard Lite-On 167T. Most of the stuff I have is Ritek G04, followed by Ritek G05, Fuji TYG02, Sony 08D1, Memorex Prodisc F01, LG MUST 003, Sony TYG01, and a few others.

I’m still thinking most of the problems on this forum are caused by user error… either in burning process and storage or failure to diagnose software/hardware errors. Hell, a lot of the variation could be caused by unreliable/variable disc quality scanning. There are probably a lot of reasons.


My main disc has always the same pattern in kprobe scanned with 1653. If i change media id the pattern change accordingly to that id and it’s pretty constant within id. This makes me think id’s are read/burned differently but the 1653 can more or less see those things. This is mainly spoken from burns with LG 4163+5163 - pretty similar burners. When i check a TYG02 disc i made ½ a year ago the kprobe result is pretty identical, ±5 PIF. (About that time i got the LiteOn) I know the LiteOn wont work forever and i’ll soon replace my 3520 (i harly ever use) with 1640 and eventually my LGs will loose power but until then i think my results will be constant. Wonder how long the discs will really work though :wink:

Reason i started to write here was actually a suggestion like the above with stars to reflect the disc quality. Actually id like disc manufacturers to guarantee which burner/fw they are tested/working with. These days you throw anything with a purple bottom on the market and call it a DVD-R making people think it works and i don’t understand how they can get away with it any longer/at all :wink:

That is true. To a degree, at least.

But a lot of the unknown Taiwanese and Chinese media are a major problem too. Yi Jhan, Infosmart, Jilin Quingda, Wealthfair, Umedisc, Ul Tran, Gigastorage, … the list goes on … a lot of unreliable crap. Some of that stuff even makes CMC, Ritek and Princo look good… which is also crap compared to Mitsubishi, Maxell and Taiyo Yuden, amongst others.

Media QC is not all that different from custom paintjobs (toys, cars, whatever). If you go fast and sloppy, you get an ugly product. If you put in a bit of care, you end up with some nice results. Not slow, just careful.

The main problem is the initial stage, or so I’ve found so far - getting that right disc for your burner and more specifically, firmware.

I’ve been buying 2-10 discs from all sorts of places just to find what my burner likes. I think i find something good, then I change firmware and it turns out to be the worst media out of the lot with the new flash!

The same thing happened to me with CD-R’s, although my LG burner tended to well, like everything i threw at it (ah, LG :)).

For anyone with a relatively modern drive, buy a decent selection of discs, burn your less important stuff to them (movie backups etc.), and give them a few tests. Select the best couple of consistent-performing types of media in your price range, and buy enough to last you the time you’ll have your burner.

I’d still like to see that initial stage reduced to nothingness by means of a universal quality indicator. Manufacturers test their batches in-house anyway, it wouldn’t be too hard to simply give their batches a grade label. I mean, I wouldn’t buy 1-star media, but I’d definitely consider 2-star and 3-star if they were well priced!

With a rating system like that, it would also reward the better manufacturers and offer incentives to lower-end manufacturers to increase quality.

The high-end long-term storage folk would be happy, selecting the best discs would be much less difficult, and the manufactuers of those would be rewarded with increased profits.
The average joe’s would be happy, they have an extra guarantee that their media will be alright.

The only people who lose out are the low-end manufacturers, after all, not many people would buy 1-star media, so they would have to cut their losses and increase quality control. CMC and RiTEK managed it in the CD-R days!

The quality grading system is, of course, a pipe dream and will never happen. I know you mean well with suggesting it, but not gonna happen. You are sort of contradicting yourself when you request a hard numbering system to identify disc quality of a particular media, when just before that you point out yourself that a disc that burns great with one firmware can burn horrible with the next. Take CMC as an example: with a decent burner/firmware, they are great discs. With a crappy burner or crappy firmware, they can burn poorly, as can ANY disc. There are too many variables, and this goes for any media.

I could potentially see media codes being shown becoming a standard practice somewhere on the label, alongside the country of manufacture. But even that is unlikely as it would just create more hassles for the manufacturer, especially those that use many different types of disc for their brand, such as Memorex.