If you're reading this, the chances are you're probably a little confused about entering into the hazy optical world of disc burning. There is a, admittedly excessive, amount of disc burning jargon that could be helpful if you plan to obtain a perfect recorded disc â€“ That is, one that plays back successfully on different players without skipping.
â€œBut surely,â€ you reason, â€œa blank DVD is just a blank DVD?â€ I had this attitude when I first started recording onto DVDs in early 2010 when it became more economical to chuck out my old VCR in favour of a DVD burner where they were digital, could be copied without degrading etc etc... And let me assure you, a blank DVD is not the same as any other blank DVD.
Through this admittedly ignorant attitude did I finally become aware that they are not all the same. Some are, often the more pricey ones, better manufactured than others, often the cheaper, lower quality brand of discs, which are often thinner, and unequal spread of glue on the edges of the disc.
If you don't really want to learn the jargon on your disc burning, stop reading after this line: Sticking to quality brand names and getting opinions from friends is about as much as the average Joe needs to know. If a brand doesn't sound trustworthy, the chances are they probably aren't.
Still reading? Good stuff. There are so many things that can go wrong when you burn a blank DVD (that is, record the information onto a disc by rapidly flicking a laser light on and off) â€“ It could be a defective disc, your burner may not be able to handle it, recording speeds, scratches, longevity... All of these things judge the quality of the disc.
And then there's DVD-R and DVD+R â€“ What the heck is the difference? Let's handle this first. DVD-R and DVD+R are two variations of the same manufacturing specification. To the average consumer, this hardly matters, since modern burners are capable of burning both discs, although you may find some burners prefer DVD-R or vice versa.
DVD-R is the older brother of the DVD specificiation, as early as 1997. DVD+R is technically superior because of it's better error correction and compensation when burning and overall production method is better quality control. The most lower, â€œjunkâ€ grades of discs are always under the DVD-R since it is cheaper to buy a production license for DVD-R than it is for DVD+R.
However, DVD+Rs main problem is compatibility since it was released much later in the game â€“ 2003. It is estimated that DVD-R can be read on a potential 99% of DVD players, whilst DVD+R can only be read on a rough 95%. The latter is far more likely to choke on cheaper or finicky players.
Unless you have a direct reason not to use +R media, (such as it not playing well on a certain player) it's better to do this, since they are less prone to errors over time and better at recovery, if needs be.
Now. Brands. Up and down Club MyCE, you will hear certain people pledge allegiance to certain brands â€“ The best (and most common) seems to be Verbatim and Taiyo Yuden, two words bounced about this thread and recommended by burning gurus. Yet, a member posts they have not had a problem with the supposed garbage media â€“ Namely Bulkpaq and Memorex â€“ and state they have no problem with them.
What's going on? First to note that the more expensive, top quality brand names will have far better quality control than the cheaper ones â€“ But you can pay for cheap garbage media, or you can pay top dollar for it.
It's important to realise that most brand names, like TDK, Memorex etc. infact, do not produce their own discs. Instead, they â€œoutsourceâ€ their discs to whomever will supply them with the cheapest deal â€“ and merely slap their own name on the discs.
There are multiple potential manufacturers of who could make your discs today â€“ CMC Magnetics, Ritek Corporation, Taiyo Yuden, Mitsubishi Chemicals, UmeDisc, Mosar Boar India â€“ each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Anything less than Mitsubishi (Verbatim) and Taiyo Yuden tend to be derided by the burning gurus here at MyCE â€“ Who simply aren't willing to gamble their data, video, etc on what the â€œsnobsâ€ might consider as inferior discs. With good reason â€“ the quality of every brand, with the possible exception of Mitsubishi and Taiyo Yuden, varies quite a lot â€“ from the good, and from the bad.
It's best to think of DVDs as graded butter. Grade A is the top premium butter, like Lurpack, Grade B, like Utterly Butterly, Grade C (and possibly D) are the cheap supermarket value butter. Each comes with it's own characteristics, and it's generally said that Grade C / D media are destined for the landfill â€“ Discs that didn't 100% pass the quality control for whatever reason.
As the grades get lower, the cheaper the discs â€“ or butter â€“ becomes. Generally the lower graded discs are okay for giveaways and things. Thankfully the days of Grade C / D media are gone. All of the manufacturers stated above have really cleaned up their act in quality control meaning that, with all but the rare circumstances, we get quality media time after time.
So how do we tell who really made our discs? It could be any of the above manufacturers, and they could change from time to time. The easiest way is to download a program called ImgBurn, and, once installed, click on Discovery.
Every member on MyCE vouches to use ImgBurn to burn files onto a disc. Not Nero, or any other software. And since it's free as well, that can offer a significant boon. Look on the right pane, where you can scroll down, and look for something called â€œManufacturer IDâ€ (hereby shortened to MID). The code is who manufactured your discs and the dye formula used to do so.
So UmeDisc would be UMEXX, Ritek would be RITEKXX, CMC Magnetics would be CMC MAG XXX, Mitsubishi is MCC XXX XXX, Mosar Boar India is MBI XXXXXX, Taiyo Yuden TYGXX (Where the â€œXâ€ represents information). You can do another Google search as to how these dyes (which stores the recorded information) perform.
Be wary, however, that UmeDisc, Ritek, CMC and Mosar Boar tend to always give mixed results when burning, and sadly the only real way to know what dye performs well. Their quality standards are a bit sub-par compared to Taiyo Yuden or Mitsubishi, but that doesn't mean they aren't good. If they don't work with your drive, then they aren't good. If they do, then they work with your drive.
People constantly complain, for example, that CMC made media, under names like Staples, HP, Bulkpaq, etc is crap â€“ But that was only around 2005 when CMC was fairly unknown when it was only a minor player back then. Today, there are so many CMC brands it's hard to escape them. I had a horrible experience burning CMC MAG AM3 discs â€“ (16x DVD-R been around since roughly 2005) whilst it loved the CMC MAG M01 discs (16x +R, around same time).
A good burn can be rudimentary established by verifying the disc using ImgBurn. If it comes up with any problems or any serious reductions in speed, then it's a bad disc. Simply throw that one away to avoid long term problems and use a fresh one. If it's coming up with errors on multiple discs, it might be better to consider switching to a new dye. Your burner might not like them.
Be careful of fakes, where a disc uses a certain MID code but is in actual fact made by someone else. For example, Mirror 16x DVD-R faked a TYG03 MID code so that the drive would perform a better, if deceptive, burn. The quality of fakes are very questionable made by poor manufacturers who have to use other MID codes to be burnt.
Virtually every member on MyCE advise to avoid them like the plague. Fakes are discs that aren't made by the real manufacturer. Anything disc, for example, that uses a MCC or TY MID code that isn't on Taiyo Yuden or Verbatim are fakes.
Ah, now burning speeds. Members on MyCE vouch for a 4x burning speed if burning on media rated 16x on the disc. Wise words from experienced members; despite the ability to set the burning speed to 16x, it's advised not to do so since they tend to give poorer performances than discs burned at 4x or even 8x.
Instead, media, at whatever rated speed on the disc, should be burned at half the recommended speed â€“ So 8x for 16x media, 4x for 8x media. In general, better burns will be performed if they are recorded on a PC burner, not a laptop, which tends to be more finicky over what discs work, and what don't.
If you continue to coaster (where a disc fails on burning or verifying using ImgBurn, don't worry. It just means that the MID code don't work well with your burner. It might be worth your while, therefore, to have a look into what make / model your burner is, and find out what works best with it.
Many DVD users buy discs to primarily record onto from a standalone DVD recorder. Here is where it gets a little trickier. Standalone DVD recorders can record no faster than real time, which is 1x. Modern DVD media doesn't like to be burned at such low speeds and many off cut brands can produce mediocre to downright terrible burns â€“ Unaided if you use low quality discs, too. With DVD+R it gets even more complicated, since the lowest speed is 2.4x anyway.
Members on here will always recommend that a PC, since it has more control over burning speeds etc, will be a far better choice in burning discs you want to keep. MyCE Member Mastus came up with the idea of burning stuff onto a DVD+RW if recording on a standalone to be copied onto a computer.
Of course, DVD+RWs are not meant to be for long term storage. Six months before your recordings will start to degrade, tops. Why is this? DVD+RWs are rewriteable, and so how they are made is from a semi-transparent layer. Since this layer is not â€œstableâ€, meaning they are meant to be rerecorded on, they are expected to be lasted less longer than a DVD+R equivalent. Besides, their cost for a rewriteable often off puts the far cheaper option of DVD+R / DVD-R.
Similarly, the only option for dual layer media is Verbatim. At about 90p a disc, they can quickly become costly compared to cheaper competitors; like a 30p Aone DVD+R DL. Verbatim DL media are made using a unique to Verbatim way of making their media which, probably, justifies their expense.
The high failure rate of anything but Verbatim makes users critical and assume that they simply won't last long. In addition, other brands tend to fail at the layer burn â€“ Although many will question how frequently do you need to use dual layer? For data there is no need; since splitting it over two discs is equal to the cost of one Dual Layer, and is estimated to last far, far longer.
To be honest, I have yet to experience a media that is so abysmally bad I would choose to avoid it. There seems to be a lot of â€œsmearâ€ against certain brands. I've had a lot of success using the Mirror 16x DVD-R, whilst other members see them as pure junk.
Granted, I had a high failure rate of Bulkpaq and RiDisc on my computer burners, (a 2005 Pioneer, to be precise) [and Maxell on my standalone] it was always down to the burners. The fact was, it was too outdated to take 16x media reliably.
So, how does one certify a good burn? Verifying on ImgBurn is a good start, but doesn't mean anything if the disc skips. ALWAYS verify burns, either from a standalone or recorded on the computer itself).
In this case, you turn to Nero CD Speed, a neat software that benchmarks a disc to tell you a little more in-depth if they are good or not. The only real way to certify a good burns if it plays real time on a standalone DVD player. So that means watching it all the way through for any hiccups or excessive freezing.
Members on MyCE will tell you certain MID codes to definitely avoid, but only the only way to find out what works with your gear is to trial and error. The RitekG05 MID fiasco meant many users complained their data was fading and quickly becoming unreadable within a week to several months after it was burnt.
UmeDisc, whilst I haven't had any problems with them, is still a fairly unknown manufacturer, and such many not be all that supportive on your drive. Simultaneously problems with CMC MAG media is long gone since writers now have better firmware support for them.
As to storing the discs? There isn't anything to really recommend since all discs will eventually degrade over time. However, a quality disc can last, at least, a minimum of 10 years if they are stored right in acid-free plastic sleeves and away from light sources. Keep a regular check on the discs and copy them immediately if some of them look a little funny in scanning them. Try to keep playing them to a minimum, and don't throw them about.
Special thanks to MyCE members Mastus, Arachne, Albert, Cholla, chef and many other members who, through their wisdom, has shaped this article.