Archiving CDs and DVDs


I've been seeing a lot lately on how to get better results when using CD and DVD media for archiving digital data. Today, my feedreader offered up this article from PCWorld.com on CD and DVD media quality. The article largely focuses on some efforts by NIST and others to create a standard rating system for recordable media so that we're not left guessing in the dark:

But NIST's Byers is seeking to change that. At an OSTA meeting in San Francisco this week, Byers is proposing an industry-wide grading system to indicate disc quality.

Byers is motivated by the desire to see a uniform mechanism in place to guide institutions and individuals who'll be storing data, music, videos, and images for long periods of time. "They need to be confident in their purchasing, so they can plan for their strategies in storing their information," Byers says. "Long-term storage has different meanings: For some, 30 years might be enough. For others, 50 or 75 years might be archive, or long-term, quality."

Under Byers's proposal, a series of tests would be developed to determine whether a DVD would last for a given number of years. "If you were to purchase a disc in a store with a grade that indicates it has passed a test to last X number of years, it removes a lot of uncertainty for the consumer, and it can save some expense in premature migration [to a new storage technology], or loss of data because they waited too long [and the disc was no longer playable]," he says.
From PCWorld.com - Burning Questions: When Good Discs Go Bad
Referenced Tue Jun 15 2004 11:00:31 GMT-0600

Byers has conducted tests and has data, but he's not naming names. For now the best approach is to buy high quality media that matches your drive speed and is produced by a vendor who manufactures their own disks (like Maxell or Verbatim) so that you get consistent quality.