Archival CD/DVD - How many are giving to clients and question about disc failure

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by alan_hawes, Sep 21, 2008.

  1. I am wondering how many of us are giving archival CDs and DVDs to clients? I've recently read that standard CDs
    and DVDs life expectancy is between 2-5 years. This is shocking to me. Also, putting DVDs in jewel cases is not
    a good idea either. Jewel cases hold the disc tighter and can crack a DVD at the hole (which is apparently
    thinner than a CD). Is this news to you? Has anyone experienced problems with discs failing after a few years?
  2. the only cases I've ever had a problem with are the felt lined ones. I prefer plastic clamshells with a soft clamp in the middle, but I've never had problems with jewel cases except they seem to break more easily. Other than that, I still have material that's over 10 years old on CD that works just fine. Some pretty used DVD's as well.
  3. All my client deliverables are on Verbatim "UltraLife Gold Archival Grade" products.

    There's a beehive of DVD-R on my desk, the part number is 95355. There's CR-Rs in the other room, if you really need the part number...

    DVDs are as thick as CDs, but a CD is basically one thick chunk of plastic, with a metal coating and a thin layer of lacquer to protect it. DVDs are two or three equally thick layers of plastic glued together, and bending can make them come unglued. Some brands and types are more susceptible to this than others. A friend of mine has six 100 DVD behives of TDK DVD-R that are so fragile they often spontaneously delaminate before you can even burn them. If you tried putting one of those puppies in a jewel case, it would probably come out as two thin DVDs...

    The Verbatims seem to be tough enough for jewel cases. And they're supposed to be anti-scratch coated...
  4. Proper storage is key. Out of direct light, in moderate temperatures and humidity. Do not store them in your car. More guidelines are listed at the end of this post.
    Use good cases for maximum protection. This archival case is inert (no outgassing), flexible (won't crack), has a floating hub that keeps the disc suspended, and the disc is easily popped out without bending or flexing of the disc which can cause loss of data:
    Archival Jewel Case for CD/DVD storage
    Use only "write-once" CD-R, DVD-R, or DVD+R discs. RW discs are not considered archival. If you have to, write only on the hub.
    Buy quality DVD's from a trusted source. There are a lot fakes out there. Taiyo Yudens are generally considered the best. Here are a couple of good online sources:
    Allmedia Outlet
    For more information about blank media quality, including information on fakes, this is a great source. Here are their Media FAQ's.

    Here are CD/DVD Storage and Handling Guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. More information can be found here.
  5. I provide archival grade discs for my clients. While not "archival" to the extent of the gold layer discs, they do have the archival chemistry that should last longer than regular media. The chemical composition of the data layer of the disc is the key. They're only marginally more expensive, but I think are a good bet.

    The ones I use are the glossy "watershield" discs that are hub-printable (they have inkjet printable coating down to the hole). I use an Epson R280 printer and design custom graphics to print directly on the disc, using an image from the event, along with text layers in a Photoshop file. And, I use the Epson Print CD software to print the graphics.

    I'd love to use the gold layer discs, but I don't want to give my clients a disc that you have to write on with a sharpie marker, or print an adhesive label for. If they made them with an inkjet printable surface, I'd consider them.

    I think that, whatever media we provide, we as professionals should recognize these longevity issues and educate our clients on keeping their images perpetually backed up on hard drives, and making backup discs for themselves (or providing them ourselves at extra cost). And, I feel we should archive these images ourselves, for our own records/use in marketing.
  6. Steve, the Verbatim number I gave unfortunately not printable.

    Mitsui MAM-A DVD-R gold do come in printable, your choice of either white or clear, with or without printable hub, in inkjet, thermal, or silkscreen coating. (Yes, I know that's 12 permutations). I'd personally go for the clear, and let gold show through around very bold red and black artwork....
  7. I don't have enough experience with archival DVDs, but I can tell you that nearly every CD I made in my first days of digital photography can no longer be read. They were supposedly high quality, and about 40% were gold when they became available. I was very lucky to have archived to additional hard drives and Fuji backup system, so I didn't lose too many shots. I used a program that would periodically read bits off the hard drives and re-write them to a different spot in order to preserve the hard drive's magnetism for that bit. It worked well, but the program no longer works with XP and Vista versions, so I'm not sure what I will do.

    I frankly don't know what the solution is, but it is more common that the industry has let on.
  8. What do you guys think about delivering images on a flash drive instead of a disc? More/Less reliable?
  9. Theoretically a flash drive should be less durable, but it might be a good marketing twist. Then the customer could burn their own DVDs and the problem becomes theirs.
  10. How about delivering a custom printed flash drive along with their DVD. Include some info stating your "best practices" recommendation of how to archive copies of their important day in case of fire, hurricane, etc. That would be an appreciated added value.
  11. I don't worry about it - I think the vast majority of people have hard drives which are at least 250GB and almost all will drag and drop the files onto the main computer.
  12. Whatever happened to the early concept that these discs were indestructible - and therefore so much more superior than vinyl and tape?

    Part of me wonders whether this is just an opportunity to re-sell the CD/DVD to folks who would buy into the idea - after all, as photographers we are probably the most paranoid bunch when it comes to preserving data etc. (and perhaps rightly so).

    I suspect that most discs given to customers will be presented in good quality cases, and looked after well by the recipients. It is probably more likely (unfortunately) that some smart pants will invent a new file type to supercede the JPEG and TIF formats to the extent that at some stage no-one will be able to open the files regardless of how good the media storage is.

    Like anything (including film) if the media is looked after, it should last; leave it scraping around in the kitchen drawer and it won't. More worthy would be the invention of something to stop file corruption - although at least these days most data can be retrieved with the right software.

    As for storing on flash drives - I wouldn't in the long term. It's almost impossible now to find devices to read smartmedia cards and floppy discs which were two of the leading storage media ten to fifteen years ago - who knows what will be the leading storage media ten years from now?
  13. One thing I learned recently is not to give out dual-layer disc media to clients. I had bought a small batch of dual-layer DVD media by mistake, and several of my clients called complaining that they could not read the media. They didn't have dual-layer readers in their home computers.

    I also find that generally DVD-R media is more widely readable than DVD+R media. The + and - does make a difference, and apparently the - media is more prevalent.

    I wouldn't give out flash drives to clients. First, a DVD disc is less than a buck. A 4 gig flash drive is still over $20, and with my 12mp images, I often can't get a whole wedding to fit on one 4.7 gig DVD. It depends on how many images you shoot, of course.
  14. Good responses - it has become important to us to provide archival discs to our clients - b/c our over head is relatively low, we have made this expensive jump - although it 'is only' 5-15 dollars per client, buying the Delkins is very expensive as a whole. We just purchased 100 for $300.
  15. I question the veracity of "a life expectancy of 2-5 years". I have many disks that are 10+ years old and none of them have
    crapped...yet. I provide a DVD to my wedding clients and I print on the DVD 'back-up ASAP' and the same info is included
    in my contract as well. I look upon the disk as a nice way to get it to their own computers. In the future when connection speeds are
    faster I will upload to my servers and archive there for 1 year at a cost.
  16. Taiyo Yuden are about the price of regular CD/DVD media, much cheaper than all that "archival gold" stuff. And they're warranted for up to 300 years. That's what I use.
  17. Whatever happened to the early concept that these discs were indestructible - and therefore so much more superior than vinyl and tape?
    That applies only to pre-recorded CD's. Indeed, pre-recorded CD's are pretty archival, unless grossly mishandled. I've bought hundreds of them over the last 24 years, and the only ones that have become unusable are ones that have been badly scratched in a handling accident. And I've seen ones that were badly mishandled play fine; one local audio store did a demo in the mid-1980's with a CD, a knife, peanut butter, and a dishpan.
    Home-recorded media are an entirely different story. Given the known issues, and that CD-R's are supposed to be somewhat more archival than DVD-R's and DVD+R's, I back up things twice; those that require comparatively less space go once to a Delkin Archival Gold with Scratch Armor CD-R and once to a Verbatim Gold / Platimum CD-R, and things that require more space go once to a Delkin Archival Gold with Scratch Armor DVD-R and once to a Taiyo Yuden (sp?) DVD+R. I also keep what I can on the hard drive, the internal 80 GB and/or the external Western Digital 500 GB ($105 at
    When I give people stuff, it is usually on cheaper disks. I tend to buy a spindle of Fuji CD-R's and paper sleeves. But that's because I'm giving it. If I were charging money, it would be on one or two of the types I use to archive.
  18. Warrantys usually mean you get another disc but not your data back!
  19. I love it when someone postulates a ridiculous statement with "I read it somewhere that...". There are few limits to what anyone can write or say under the Constitution, and doomsday predictors always have a willing audience.

    Most problems with "bad" cds and dvds are due to poor recording quality or physical damage (i.e., scratching) during storage. Arrhenius testing is a validated method of predicting life of a product, and is the basis for claims of 100 to 300 year life for optical discs. I'm trained as a scientist (analytical/physical chemistry) and I'm comfortable with the theory and practice so described. There are others who believe the earth is flat and the moon is constructed of lumber and canvas. The Constitution guarantees the right to express those beliefs too.
  20. Steve, I'm confused about two things...

    "I had bought a small batch of dual-layer DVD media by mistake,"

    You didn't notice that they cost 6x as much?

    "and several of my clients called complaining that they could not read the media. They didn't have dual-layer readers in their home computers."

    I've never seen a DVD drive that couldn't read dual layer. Commercial videos are pretty much all dual layer, so in order to be able to play movies, drives have to read dual layer. Are you sure the problem wasn't that you got either +R, -RW, or +RW media instead of -R? A lot of drives that will happily read single or dual layer -R will choke on +R, -RW, or +RW.

    There's also an issue of computers needing a special driver to cope with the UDF data format that is normally used for -RW and +RW discs. So, even if the hardware can handle them, you may need software.
  21. "Most problems with "bad" cds and dvds are due to poor recording quality or physical damage (i.e., scratching) during storage."

    And for the second time in as many weeks, I find myself in complete agreement with Edward. I think that means I need a vacation ;)

    How many people have any idea how to burn a CD or DVD properly?

    Do you just pop in a disc, then drag files to it using the MacOS or Windows XP or Vista "built in" burning capability? If you do that, you're assuming that about six things are going to happen perfectly...

    1) The data block of the media which tells the burner a bunch of things about the discs maximum write speed and recommended write power levels for various speeds is going to be correct.

    2) The firmware in the drive is up to date and can "do the right thing" with the burning data from the media.

    3) The burning software in the computer will communicate with the drive firmware properly to keep that "chain of data" intact.

    4) The computer and whatever media (hard disc, network drive, flash drive) that the computer is reading data from are fast enough to keep up with the maximum speed determined by media ID, drive firmware and burning software.

    5) That the burn will happen "perfectly", because the OS "built in burner" typically doesn't have validation capability.

    6) That the burn will happen "smoothly", because that burnt in burner doesn't report all the interesting burning statistics (power changes, fallbacks to lower writing rates, buffer underruns and pauses for "burn proof" buffering).

    Does the average user know how to look at a freshly burnt disc and say "look at all the running power changes, this disc is trashed", or "there's a weird resonance pattern, I'm not trusting this one", or "look, the shadow of a chunk of dirt that got "burnt around"? Do they specify a good burner (I currently use a Plextor PX-800A) when they order a PC, or just use whatever low cost (Lite-On, etc) thing the PC builder ships by default?

    Burning a really good disc is a science that requires work. You need good software (Nero seems to be about the best that I've encountered). You have to do simulations periodically to determine the reading capability of the computer, and the data transfer capability of the drive. You have to keep an eye on burner error messages and logs. And you don't burn at max speed...

    Heck, my burner and the DVDs that I use are both 16x rated, but I always deliver burnt at 6x. I've never seen a running power change at 6x. CDs usually get cooked at 24x on the 52x burner.
  22. (for Joseph) Just to clarify, these weren't 6x as much money, but I picked them up locally without noticing the dual layer designation. I ordinarily order the archival Taiyo Yuden media online.

    I didn't investigate the root of the problems my clients were having reading the discs, because I didn't get the impression they were very tech-savvy from talking to them. But, I surmised they simply either had outdated computers/drives, or had not upgraded service packs, etc. Once I supplied single layer DVD-R media, they had no further problems. So really, I'm only saying that supplying single layer media is a better bet for wide compatibility, in my experience.
  23. Edward and company, FWIW, what I've mostly seen in the way of home recorded CD-R's going bad is when somebody leaves one out on a desk or shelf where it gets direct sunlight. A couple of weeks or a month later, attempts to use the disk show substantial problems. I do certainly regard that as clear mishandling, but to the average consumer, who can do this with pre-recorded disks and much less risk of loss, it may be less obvious.
  24. You can storage images on CD/DVD about 30 years (different studies tell us 20-100 years)
  25. I have my own CDs from 1998, and have no problem with them...
  26. The media may be stable but the units that play them will not be able to read units upgrade and improve, they will not read older discs.

    I have older discs that were recorded professionally yet brand new DVD players that I have purchased will not read them....they will read brand new media, but not the older media.

    So no matter what type of media you use, gold, platinum, diamond, whatever, if the units will not read them, then it doesn't matter how well we record them..........

    And knowing that clients usually have the lowest end units they can buy, they won't be able to access their files.

    Now this doesn't pertain to PC's....just consumer dvd players.
  27. George - that's interesting.

    When I read threads like this - it reminds me that when I went to buy a new computer - I couldn't find any with a floppy drive. I have a very expensive program for contact management that had years of info that I had to reinstal the program and import all the datal in my new computer. I had to order a custom drive with a floppy capability. I don't know if that will even be possible 10 years from now. Will computers in 2020 have CD/DVD drives? I wonder.
  28. I am not planning on DVD's being around that much longer. I am currently using external HD's for longer term backup. Get an external, hot swappable drive enclosure (or one of these: and then once your backup is full, pop in another.

    For the DVD's I am currently burning, I use Delkin gold which have a shelf life of at least 5 years. I have some that are about 4 years old and can still read them (check it now and then just to see how they are doing). I keep them in a fireproof safe and dry.

    For clients, I send the less durable, but much prettier printable DVD's with a pic of them on it. When they receive it, the first thing they see is a note about backing up and copying the files. This is also part of my contract. I mention the inherent nature of digital images and that they will need to move files as systems update over time.

    As for the future, I see flash type memory becoming cheap enough, soon enough, that I will likely start to send my clients a pretty box with a reader and CF (or similar) card of their images. This is what I am thinking of:

    So, I guess it's just a matter of time before we get there....

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