Frozen DVD's?



For the time being, I’m going to need to store my burned media in a Self-storage facility. Mostly Ty but a wide variety of media is represented. They are filed in paper sleeves.
To prepare them, I lined the box with a heavy trash bag, put in the discs, then taped up the box. Then, I put the box in a outer bag. That should keep the moisture out.

Where I live, at least occasionally, they will freeze. Will that ruin them?


Welcome to the forums Lou. This is an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve seen it answered around here and am curious to see what kind of answers you get.

Though it may not be comparable, I know you can freeze film for a long time and delay the degeneration of the chemicals contained within. So out of date film, if stored properly can be used years after the expiration date. I don’t believe it is advisable to allow it to go through cycles of freezing and thawing. Lets see if anyone around here knows the effects of cold or freezing on dvd dye layers.


I think that wrapping them up like that may not be a great idea. It will promote condensation inside the bundle when the temp changes. A ripe environment for mildew and such. Better to leave them in a “breathable” container.


I doubt that repeatedly freezing and thawing will do it any good, but I would have to think that it would not be too uncommon here in the U.S. and in Canada where DVD Media would have multiple periods of freezing and thawing during shipment and storage. What the effect is, I don’t know, particularly with already burned media. I’d think that repeated freezing and thawing would be a bigger concern than if the media was frozen over an extended period, but I’m just guessing. Surely there have been tests done relating to this, but I’ve not read anything about the subject.


Thanks for the replies. Though its my first post I’ve found many useful threads over the years here.
The frozen film thought gives me some confidence. Now that’s its mentioned, it seems to me that many\most photographers do this.
The mildew thought takes some of that confidence away in part. I did have a box of books mildew\mold on me once that were stored in an unheated garage. They were in a plain cardboard box though and I believe that water had leaked under the door to get at them.
I’m also aware that plastic is not impermeable so moisture could transpire (?) over time to the interior. We all see frost inside bags of frozen vegetables.
The cycles may be mitigated somewhat by keeping the mass together.

 Hopefully by the heat of summer (in Kansas City), I'll be ready to put things back in a climate controlled environment.


Maybe if you had something like a Pelican dry box (or even a couple of cheap dry boxes that sell for around $10-15) and put some silica gel packs in it, that might be helpful in keeping condensation away from the discs/sleeves themselves.


Why not put them in a spindle and leave them in there?

Surely they won’t get damaged inside the spindle stacked on each other.


A Stable low temperature in itself is unlikely to do much damage (optical media seems to be rated safe to -5 Celcius (-23 F) . What would concern me is fairly rapid freezing/defrosting cycles affecting the chemical stability of the dye/water moisture penetrating the bonding as a result or polycarbonate weakening (that is unlikely I guess).

I conducted some simple, non-rigorous home experiments with some media frozen to -20 Celcius for upto 6 months, still worked ok.


I know it sounds odd, but I was thinking that if it was put inside of a cooler, then the shift in temperatures would be much slower and might help. The downside would be potentially trapping moisture inside it. At some point if you start going to much trouble in storing it, it would become easier to just find an alternative place to store it such as in a friend’s basement, etc. I think your discs will be fine, but over an extended period of time it would be fair to say that the more stable the temperature and humidity levels, the better.


Conjectures. Don’t trust conjectures.

I have a whole different take on the question, which is being cautious, the old “better safe than sorry” when there are more doubts than certitudes.

So why not leave your discs at a friend’s place for example?

Besides, you say you put them in paper sleeves then in the box… and I wonder how one can manage this without placing the discs in a mechanical stress situation. Warping is at the door. It would be far more advisable to put them in 25-discs cakeboxes. In cakeboxes, discs rest on their stacking ring.

Don’t forget that discs should always be stored vertically (except when they can rest accurately on their stacking ring) while avoiding stress on the edge, to avoid warping. This is achieved by the usual cases, jewel boxes and other proper storing stuff. Paper sleeves on their own don’t achieve this in the least.

Frankly, if there are things on these discs that are important to you, and if you can come up with another solution, don’t do this. :disagree: - once again, “better safe than sorry”.


I do agree Franck (as I mentioned it would probably be easier to just find a friend’s house to store them at rather than the current situation), however, his question still remains. My own opinion is that while it’s not going to ‘ruin’ them, if there will be frequent large fluctuations in temperature it will increase the degradation process. How much impact it will have I don’t know, and some media will be more sensitive to less than ideal conditions than others.


In the tests you ran, did you use blank dvds or ones that were already burned? And if you froze disks with data, did you see any significant changes in scans?


I live in the midwest also and i don’t think temps here will hurt your discs. They ship them in vans(trailers) and no heat in them. Just don’t use them until they are room temp.


The media tested had been burned, while error rates had increased (as I was expecting), the level of degredation was not enough to affect readability, as TRT was still flawless at 16x.

I was interested in wether optical media had similar degredation issues at lowered temperatures as has been shown in both professional/home testing at higher temperatures.


The deed is done now so I’ll see in June. Thanks to everyone that commented.

They are stored in paper sleeves, on edge, two levels deep with Styrofoam on 4 sides and between the levels with a plastic bag inside lining the box and sealed as well as a plastic bag outside the bag and sealed. The 1 ft. cube boxes weigh about 30 lbs each and are grouped together so the mass might diminish temperature swings.

I did consider putting them all back in cake boxes. My judgment was I would likely damage a few in handling and there were just too many to process.

  • I liked the cooler Idea and it would easily serve as a poor man’s Dry Box for light duty. As far as that goes, you could run a bead of caulk around the lid and put in a bag of desiccant. Tottaly sealed, thermally mediated.
  • Francksoy probably had the best advice. I hope I won’t be totally screwed for not following his cautions.

I was encouraged a little today when I found a dozen or so CD for about 1999-2000 that had been rolling around here and there and were long forgotten. Burned back in the day they are probably the oldest that I have. Most were still quite readable it seems.

  • My dream is when the new PB drives come out, I’ll be able to transfer it all back on my hard drive!