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DVD Recordable Media FAQ


DVD Recordable Media

Are some brands of DVD Recordable better than others?

The starting point is what works for you. If you have had positive experiences with a particular DVD Recordable, then keep going with it. We've found in our office that certain DVDs can be "problem solvers." We send out these discs when a client complains of playback problems in a laptop or an old set-top player. A problem inherent with inexpensive DVD media is video skip, which will occur in the second half of a full DVD. Another issue is the ability of the drive to recognize the disc in older laptop or set-top players. By recording to Verbatim, MAM-A or Taiyo Yuden DVD, most of these errors can be avoided. These three manufacturers use quality dye materials. In fact, the AZO dye used by Verbatim has specific long-life characteristics. The AZO dye shows lower error rates after 600 hours of aging, while the specification is below 280 hours.

Another aspect of DVD disc quality is the bonding agent, which keeps the two-piece DVD disc together. A DVD recordable is made of two thinner discs, which are held together by bonding glue. The ability of the bonding glue to resist breakdown in extreme conditions is a key part of the disc quality. We see many DVDs, which are damaged from impact on the side, where the impact separated the two discs, damaging the dye and reflective layer. Using a premium bonding glue can dramatically increase the performance of the discs in aging test. Tests have show the premium Verbatim product can again exceed over 600 hours of aging, while other media manufactured with a certain bonding glue showed increased errors at outer areas.

The final pieces of the quality picture are the polycarbonate & reflective layer. These parts of the disc can vary in thickness and density based on the manufacturers' efforts to keep costs down. Even a tiny drop of saved plastic can save a lot over the production of millions of discs, so lower-priced manufacturers tend to use the minimum they can, while staying within specs.

Just like with CD-R, using the better DVD Recordables has benefits that work for you from start to finish.

How do I know if I need CD-RW or CD-R media, or DVD-RW or DVD-R?

One of the more confusing issues with making CDs is the decision whether to purchase CD-RW or CD-R discs, and the very same issue question applies to DVD-RW and DVD-R(or +R). I've heard salespeople and consumers debate it at office supply stores, and even friends and family wonder which is the best product to buy. Very often there is a lot of misinformation out there clouding things up as well, with a lot of it based on very real personal experiences, which may have been jaded by hardware issues, marginal discs or just user error.

Below are a few basic principles and rules of thumb to follow.

Use a CD-RW if:
1. You are using them for short-term storage. Think of a CD-RW as that VHS tape you'll repeatedly use for recording your favorite TV show, but you never let leave your entertainment center. They are designed for writing and erasing, and they are perfect for repetitive applications, like short-term backups.
2. If you are hopping between PCs and you need to take your data with you. Just like a USB Jump Drive, use them with projects that you are moving from one PC to another with, like hopping from you graphics PC to your word processing PC.
3. If it's a real sweet deal. Honestly retailers often use CD-RWs as “loss leaders”. Who can pass up a $20 pack of discs with a $20 rebate? Lots of retailers use these deals to get you in the door, and whether you like -R or -RW, free is always good!

Use a CD-R if:
1. If you plan on sharing your data. CD-RW can have limited playback on other's PCs or Drives. CD-RW discs also require players to have "multi-read" capability, which not all PC read-only drives have, and almost no audio players have. So if you are sharing some pictures, music or data, stick with a CD-R, as they are readable in much more drives.
2. If you are recording audio. First off, since its questionable whether all drives will be able to read the disc, CD-R is a much better fit. CD-RW recording is often done using "Track-at-once" recording, which is really taboo when it comes to making a true professional quality (red-book) audio disc. For everyone to read your audio discs, you need to make sure its recorded "Disc-at-once", where the audio software lays out the disc table of contents and sub codes.
3. If you're distributing data, like software updates or original titles, never use a CD-RW for any form of distribution. Use of a CD-RW for large-scale data distribution is a no-no, since end users may have read back issues, and most importantly they could erase or edit the important data you have on the disc. The last thing you want is to have somebody with a virus on their machine read your disc, contaminate it, and then give it to a bunch of friends who all get the virus. Guess who gets the call when all friends find our where the virus comes from.
4. If you need to archive. There has been no significant testing at all on the dye (recording) material that is used in CD-RW, whereas just about every CD-R dye has been tested to the hilt. Of course the fact the discs can be potentially be erased and overwritten doesn't lend itself to archiving either.
There are some significant differences here, so make sure you find the disc that best fits your application.

I'm looking for quality DVD-RW for backup purposes. What do you recommend? I didn't see any DVD-RW media from your store.

We don't recommend any RW product for any type of backup. As they are re-writable, they are inherently subject to being erased at some point, and normally, the dye material on RW is not as reliable in aging tests. Another issue is the potential limitation of RW media to be played back on all drives. We would hate to have you back up something important and later have trouble finding a compatible drive to read back on.

Our recommendation would be to backup on a Verbatim DVD-R. To this point Verbatim has been the manufacturer to focus the most on archive and long term storage. They have been tweaking all their DVD products to have the longest life of any DVD. Then you also get the benefit of recording to a once-write DVD-R, where no one can overwrite your files. They also have the highest compatibility with respect to playback on DVD players.

DVD Recordable Media FAQ