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What CD/DVD’s Are Best For Archiving?

Friday, August 10th, 2012 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals

John from FL writes:

Is there one brand of CD that is considered better than others? Also, would a DVD be better to record information on?

This is a question not a lot of people think of because they assume CD/DVDs will last forever. Guess what? It’s not true! Regular CDs and DVDs degrade with time and exposure to the elements. So what do you do to keep them as long as possible?

Let’s start with what you can do with regular CD/DVDs.

  • Use only CD-R/+R or DVD-R/+R. -RW discs designed to be rewritable are not suitable for long term storage.
  • Limit exposure to air and sunlight.
  • Store in a proper CD/DVD case – not a paper envelope.
  • Wipe the bottom of the CD/DVD clean of any fingerprints or residue with a lens tissue or clean microfiber cloth.
  • Make two copies! It’s always¬†better to have a backup.

So what CD/DVDs do you want to buy if you’re concerned about long-term reliability?

When looking for archival CD/DVDs, you should pay attention to what the reflective layer is made out of and what dye is used. This information can be found in the manufacturers specifications for the disc.

The best discs are made using gold as part of the reflective layer. You can identify them by the manufacturer indicating just gold is used. They can be found online for $2.00 a piece in packs of 25. These are rated for 300 years of storage in archival grade storage conditions.

The second best style of CD/DVD are gold/silver hybrids which will mention both gold and silver, and can be found online for a bit cheaper (usually $1 to $2 per disc) in smaller packs.

The lowest quality of archive discs will be silver only. These are better than traditional discs, but not by that much. Usually these cheaper discs are sold for under $1.00 each.

Each of the above types of reflective layers can be made using different types of dyes. The best type of dye to look for is Phthalocyanine, the second best is Azo and the worst performing is Cyanine.

As far as CD vs DVD, there isn’t a difference in physical media that I know of in terms of lifespan – though by nature of there being less information stored on a CD it may be better to lose less of the “total” if you have 10 CDs and one goes bad versus all the information on one DVD. If it was me, I still might just make 3 copies of the same DVD – just in case.



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5 Responses to “What CD/DVD’s Are Best For Archiving?”

  1. Sean says:

    I bought 2 spindel’s (100 pack)of ‘TDK’ brand CD-R and already 5 are ‘defective’, during a recording session my DVD/CD R(W) drive will just stop because there’s some minute ‘glitch’ on the CD which appearently stops the drive from finishing a CD & finalizing it. My advice: don’t use TDK brand CD-R for making a master CD, better off tryingto make a copy where if it doesen’t work the 1st time, you can always try another one untill it’s completly done.

  2. K.Vee.Shanker. says:

    Thanks Tim, for your detailed reply and suggestions. You’ve written it well with all the details. In a similar writeup on life of CDs, I’ve asked for this information only. I’m happy that I got it now through John & Tim!

    Additionally,do we need to recheck the backup periodically for its condition?

  3. Tony Napier says:

    Readers of PCPro may recall an article on this theme some time ago which recommended two brands, Mitsui (I think it was) and Taiyo Uden whose range includes “watershield” full gloss face printable CDs and DVDs.

  4. J.L. says:

    Not about the disc my gripe is of the registery cleaner mess. If a computer processor is desighned to run optimal general format, how can a so called registery cleaner make it run faster? the only way i know is to OVER CLOCK the processor to speed the processing up. Most registery cleaning tools do little if amlmost anything toward that process. CCeaner is one that if FREE and optimizes as well as any pay for use like currently available. Like this one offered CCleaner will get you in trouble as well especially with dll files. As you should know if one is lost from the system because of a setting, some times the OS has to be reinbstalled, and that isn’t cheap these days. if you are going to PUSH these sales, make sure that you mkae things really clear what can and does happen often from these tools / applications. I see realy often that the ones that talk about / sell or whatever really miss these points GREATELY-Big Time too. U sell the product because it creates cash flow for your needs, but in same tone, with out properly sharing ALL the concerns probleums and what-if’s sales is sales and it shows that maybe you do jopt care, or really know your self about the true operations of the product because dollars is dolars and sales of product mean more that creating a definate repour safely through and within the public. Several of us out here have noiced this not just here at World start, but others as well. relying on the general gullibality through sales pushing products, it isn’t healthy for you. Just tying to be helpfull is all sharing what folks see. I have a team and we teach computing one on the team had a doctorial deguree and a minor in computer science. he sees these too and shakes his head. Makes money for him and his repair business because of the way things are offered, but he feels guilty for charging for bad information. Just sharing here. Please be more mindfull and watch how the presentation evolves, not just pushing the product. Might be some thought for future products shares. I have made a few purchases from you folks over the years as well and I have some issues as well with the products and i ask a couple tech about them pass it along to them. Some have been servisable, most well I’ll leave this at that.
    I’m just passing along some intersts that has shown concerns. In and according to the sx tech I know, they rate registry mechanic below the bottom of the barrell in serviceability. causing far more priobleums that usefullness.


  5. Robert Beck says:

    How does one know the type of dye various brands of CDs and DVDs use.
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen that listed on a disc or on the packaging.
    Is there a list somewhere on the internet?

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