Hi everyone, "new" member here. I think I had an account here sometime around 2003, but I can't really recall the details now so.. I don't really have any story to tell but I've been involved in recordable optical media since mid-1990s, still consider optical the most reliable offline backup option. I also have a lot of drives to scan CD/DVD's on, so even if you'll hate my opinions and blabber at least I'll be useful to the forum in that sense LOL
So with that out of the way, let's get to the topic here. I've been using Maxell branded Ritek CD-R's for about 15 years and I've found these phthalocyanine discs to be rather well supported on anything I've used. They also used to be of reasonable quality up until about 2008, when they changed things around, and that is what this thread will be about. I don't have any inside information on Maxell/Ritek business decisions but I do have a camera and a DVD drive that scans disc quality, this will be simply a "community alert" type thing and I'm not going to tell you what you should do, but I will give you the facts of the case.
That case being that modern Ritek CD-R's are subpar crap. Idk if that comes as surprise to anyone, for $0.20 per disc you really get what you pay for.. but let's look at the facts anyway.
So let's get straight to it. Here is an early-mid 2000's Maxell-branded CD-R80XL-S 700MB (ATIP: 97m15s17f, hub code: RFD80M-09277) disc, pictures for identification and scan (apologies for non-full disc, but this is the one I found first):
So although it's a partial scan, you can still tell this is likely a high quality disc all-around. Although the problems I will discuss will be situated at the outer ends of the disc, that's why I'm gonna show you the pictures of this disc so you can see there is no sign of degradation on the label side:
Now these Maxell discs used to be one of the first cheaper 80minutes on the market, and they were generally considered good quality at least for daily use, and at least my discs from that era have survived well, and scan better than most new media.
Here is a scan for a newer version of this same ATIP (97m15s17f), this disc originates from 2010, (hub code: RFD80M-76841):
Uh-oh, now this one doesn't look so good... And all ~10 discs (from different batches, years) that I scanned of this ATIP and Maxell brand after ~2008 have had this same problem. Very high amounts of C1 errors and ALL had C2 errors at the end of the disc. Jitter all over the place. The problem is clearly visible, have a look at the outer label side of this disc:
As you can see the outer disc has become very yellow. It was not like that when it was new, the silver label was much brighter and you could clearly see the difference if I showed you a new disc compared to this one, which I can do, I'll try to find a new disc if y'all are interested. But the case is clear, these discs degrade, and they degrade rapidly. The yellowness of the outer areas starts to be visible just a few months after the disc (jewel pack in this case) is unsealed. Not burned. The degradation happens before the disc is burned as well, so long as the seal is broken and disc is subject to more oxygen.
And as I showed you this also leads to actual read errors, including C2 errors at the worst affected area. Now all of the discs I tested were readable, C2 error correction saved the day. But it could have been a different picture, and I could have easily been looking at some CRC/data corruption here, if the C2 errors couldn't be corrected.
Now I'll speculate a bit on what happened with these discs. They were stored in jewel cases, away from the sun, in normal room temperatures (64-80Â°F, ~15-28Â°C). Since the dye layer has no visible degradation and the discs aren't scratched, I am left to conclude the problem may lie with the reflective layer. In this disc silver is used. Silver corrodes when subjected to oxygen over long periods of time, but even if a disc is badly made, and oxygen reaches the reflective metal layer, I'm not convinced it is enough to cause this much corrosion and tarnish over such a small period of time (a few months)... Since the degradation found on the disc is causing errors, it can't be simply attributed to the lacquer/label degrading as this should (in theory) not cause such problems. So while I suspect something is up with the reflective layer, I cannot definitively say that is even possible so long as Ritek used silver in this disc. So if anyone else has more input or knows what the problem is, I am interested to hear your take.
No matter what causes the degradation, the conclusion for me at least is clear: I'm not using these discs for any medium or long term backups, I'll use what's left for daily burns and so on. As I said in the beginning it's not up to me to tell you what you should do, that's up to everyone's own priorities and maybe for some people these discs serve some purpose. They are the cheapest CD-R's available here at the moment. But compared to what Maxell/Ritek used to produce, these are no match and that is my final conclusion on this topic.
Thanks for reading, looking forward to any input, especially if anyone else is experiencing these kind of degradation issues with this particular media.