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Degrading DVDs - take action


baypond

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I was shocked to discover how quickly some 3/4 year old DVD's burnt on my computer were degrading. We have a stack of them full of video of our children. Many of them no longer replay on DVD players or our computers. Luckily we have the original files on computer hard drive and will be transferring back up copies to external drives and SDHC cards. I thought these DVDs would last at least 10 years, so it may be worth checking your home burnt DVDs before you lose treasured video.

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[quote user="Dog"]while storing them near magnetic devices?[/quote]Come again ?

DVD's owe nothing to any magnetic process and are unaffected by magnetic fields, BURN a DVD might be a clue ?

Longevity is a direct product of the manufacturing process which surprise surprise, is directly related to cost. Cheap and nasty unbranded media can become fatally degraded in as little as 2 years whereas the projected lifespan of quality media can be measured in centuries. Have a read HERE

Another problem is that although the position is now much clearer a few years ago

there were far too many variations which were incompatible with each

other, DVD+R, DVD-R etc., and very often you had to experiment to find which blanks

actually worked in any particular burner. Some of those those discs may

now be the ones giving problems.

FWIW many people do not realise that the underside of a CD or DVD, which most are at pains to protect, is not the most vunerable part, the top is, because the actual recording medium is just a thin layer stuck onto a piece of plastic. I have recovered severely scratched CD's and DVD's by using wet & dry emery cloth to polish out very deep scratches which can cause reflections and reading problems. You will never recover CD or DVD with a scratch on the top which penetrates through to the plastic [geek]

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Not quite correct, a CD is constructed as follows (a DVD is constructed in much the same way).

 

First a thick, soft, clear plastic layer. This layer comprises the majority of the CD's thickness and weight. It serves two purposes. First, it protects the data layer from damage on the play side and secondly it acts as a lens to focus the CD player's laser onto the data layer so it can more easily read the data (much the way lenses in spectacles help eyes focus on the words on a page).

 

Next the data layer is where the music and any other information are stored. It's the layer that the CD player "reads" in order to create the music, graphics, etc. The data layer is moulded or pressed into the top of the clear plastic layer. The data in the data layer is arranged in tracks that spiral like the grooves on a vinyl record (except CDs are read from the "inside out", the opposite of vinyl records).

 

Now a reflective, metallic layer is located on top of the data layer. It allows the disc to function like a mirror, reflecting the CD player's laser back to the detector in the CD player after it reads the data layer It's this layer that gives the CD's play side a shiny appearance.

 

A thin, hard protective layer is an ultra-thin plastic coating that is added to provide some protection for the reflective and data layers, while also forming a surface upon which the label information can be printed.

 

Finally the label layer is printed on top of the protective layer. It contains the title, graphics, band and other information to identify the contents of the disc. (label side).

 

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I hadn't realised problems could arise so soon.

Having read Quillan's post, I'm now wondering about some DVDs we've recently put our son and DIL's wedding pics and video on. As we couldn't find discs to print on directly, we printed out photos and stuck them on the discs. These look lovely, but will any problems arise from doing that, do you think?

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Quillan has gone into more depth than I did for which thanks are due however for the purposes of awareness my briefer, admittedly more casual and less technical description, served it's purpose I think.

Sticking proper commercial labels onto media is sort of OK although I would never do it, and I'd definitely be very wary with cheap unbranded discs, but just arbitrarily gluing on something homemade is an absolute no no so I would make backing up those discs a priority. Even using the wrong kind of marker pen to write on discs has been known to cause problems again though principally with cheap media.

Whatever you do don't be tempted to try and remove the photos.

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[quote user="gardengirl "]

I hadn't realised problems could arise so soon.

Having read Quillan's post, I'm now wondering about some DVDs we've recently put our son and DIL's wedding pics and video on. As we couldn't find discs to print on directly, we printed out photos and stuck them on the discs. These look lovely, but will any problems arise from doing that, do you think?

[/quote]

If you have bought decent 'branded' disks and not cheapo ones then you will probably be OK after all how much is a memory worth.

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On a related topic, as you guys are so knowledgable - is an external hard drive more or less reliable than a disc? 

I tend to save important things like pics on disc - 3 copies of each - and on two external drives, plus put all my best ones on Flickr Pro although I know this is overkill but I am terrified of losing stuff.  I look at the state of 30 year old trannies and weep to see what  poor state they are in and some of the stuff (shots of the BOAC 1000 for example) is of huge value to me.   I'd hate the same to happen to my digital images but still don't really know the most reliable way to store  - or indeed if anybody else does!

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I think your system is pretty good as it stands Coops.

Hard-drives will all fail at some time, its the nature of the beast.

I've got some very old CD/DVD's and they still work fine. Kept in my office cupboard, dark, dry and not too warm.

Hope you're feeling better BTW

Gary.

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Bugbear wrote: "Hard-drives will all fail at some time, its the nature of the beast."

So as a Technical dunce, am I to understand from all of you experts that what ever we do to save pictures etc. on a highly technical computer system we are doomed. Next question, should I hang on to the box brownie, the developing tank and the gnome enlarger.

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[quote user="NickP"]

Bugbear wrote: "Hard-drives will all fail at some time, its the nature of the beast."

So as a Technical dunce, am I to understand from all of you experts that what ever we do to save pictures etc. on a highly technical computer system we are doomed. Next question, should I hang on to the box brownie, the developing tank and the gnome enlarger.

[/quote]

Not doomed Nick, but it always make sense to use more than one method of storing files of value.

It is an interesting fact that most back-up hardware is purchased after an individual or someone they know has has a major failure of their storage system.

As to how many do we need, well a double back-up system (the computer hard-drive and an external hard-drive) would, I would suggest, be the absolute minimum.

Really valuable stuff, well, add to the above copies on discs/dvd's and copies on storage websites as Cooperola has done.

Gary.

.

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[quote user="Théière"]And if all else fails a photo album [Www][/quote]

Ah but photo's fade and are also not indestructible either, in truth very little is. Probably the best thing if you want 'belt and braces' is to buy a NAS with RAID but it will cost you. A new chassis is quite cheap (if the PSU goes and at least if one drive goes down you have a backup. Portable HDD's can always be dropped or accidentally hit, in fact just about anything can happen to any of the solutions. I think, as it seems decent DVD's were used that the OP is pretty safe although I would still keep a copy on my PC just in case.

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[quote user="Quillan"]

[quote user="Théière"]And if all else fails a photo album [Www][/quote]

Ah but photo's fade and are also not indestructible either, in truth very little is. Probably the best thing if you want 'belt and braces' is to buy a NAS with RAID but it will cost you. A new chassis is quite cheap (if the PSU goes and at least if one drive goes down you have a backup. Portable HDD's can always be dropped or accidentally hit, in fact just about anything can happen to any of the solutions. I think, as it seems decent DVD's were used that the OP is pretty safe although I would still keep a copy on my PC just in case.

[/quote]

Actually you are both well meaning, but I believe wrong. The only foolproof method of longevity for photos is to keep  negative film in ideal conditions. Then as; an when you wish, you print from the neg.  Film is forever as long as you look after it. Digital photography is dependant on electricity and that is not 100% reliable.

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[quote user="NickP"]The only foolproof method of longevity for photos is to keep  negative film in ideal conditions. Then as; an when you wish, you print from the neg.  Film is forever as long as you look after it. Digital photography is dependant on electricity and that is not 100% reliable.[/quote]So Nick, how would you go about achieving 'ideal' storage conditions in the absence of electricity [:D]

Somebody earlier mentioned RW (re-writable) DVD's. By definition these are intended for multiple reuse and use a different technology than write once media and must be considered significantly less robust.

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[quote user="AnOther"][quote user="NickP"]The only foolproof method of longevity for photos is to keep  negative film in ideal conditions. Then as; an when you wish, you print from the neg.  Film is forever as long as you look after it. Digital photography is dependant on electricity and that is not 100% reliable.[/quote]So Nick, how would you go about achieving 'ideal' storage conditions in the absence of electricity [:D]

Somebody earlier mentioned RW (re-writable) DVD's. By definition these are intended for multiple reuse and use a different technology than write once media and must be considered significantly less robust.

[/quote]

 

Cool dry dark conditions and stable temperature. You don't need electricity for that. 

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[quote user="AnOther"]Not sure where that would be without some sort of active control but OK, let's say they've survived 50 years, now how do you develop them, no electricity remember [;-)]

[/quote]

AnO, I'm sure that someone as clever as you could mix up chemicals without electricity.

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