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What is the best way to store DVDs? I know to

  • Keep them away from light
  • Keep away from humidity

I heard a rumor that DVD wallets with plastic selves are bad? Why?

How do DVDs scratch? I want to know what I should not be doing with DVDs.

Also what is the expected lifetime of any DVD?

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8 Answers 8

Super-cheap DVD-R's can scratch -very- easily. Carrying one on top of the other can destroy one or both, even if they're pretty securely fashioned. Paper or paper towels can cause catastrophic scratches.

Once I realized this, I went back to putting individual discs in individual jewel cases. Or carrying spindles by sealing them up so there is no chance for the discs to move about.

Also, the consequences of a blank DVD-R getting scratched are much more severe than an already written one.

Another problem I've had is circumferential scratches from leaving a spindle of disks where people are tempted to absent-mindedly spin them. Thanks for creating the worst-case scratch on a random set of discs in a spindle!

If you can pay a bit extra (or be patient and buy online) and buy good discs, it's worth it. Most of the work is in the research to find out what brands are good lately. The research is quickly obsolete.

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Here's a nice article. Although getting a bit outdated in reference of the hardware mentioned, the general idea is still the same.

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Another thing to consider is the quality of the media you are using. I have seen some of my hand burned DVD's corrode in a matter of months when they were the ultra-cheap bulk quality discs.

If you want them to last a long time, buy the highest quality media you can afford.

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Commercially pressed dvd's are much less fragile - scratches can be buffed out, as the data is pressed into the media in a totally different way than recordable media. Expect them to be readable long after any self burned media has become unusable.

If you burned the discs yourself - then make sure you don't use RW formats. If you did, then you should reburn onto a write once format for longer term storage. RW dye 'fades' over time - and in my opinion should never be used.

I have seen dvd players that cause lots of scratching - so if you are finding scratched discs you might want to take a look at your players - they are usually cheap to replace.

We store in binders with plastic sleeves - we find these simple to store large volumes, and are easy to keep organized. Typical office climate is absolutely fine.

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Firstly are we talking about production CD / DVD's or recordable?

If its recordable then the first thing i would say is that you get what you pay for. In my humble opinion i have always found TDK CD's/DVD's to be the best.

Secondly there is such a thing as Disc Rot which can be caused by oxidisation in the air and aggravated by scratches so try not to scratch the discs. Generally this only affects writable CD's / DVD's.

When cleaning a disc always use a lint-free cloth and ensure you wipe from the center straight out to the edge and not in a circular fashion. Discs are designed to withstand some scratching as long as not too much data is destroyed. this is because each segment has error correcting code included in it. Destroy to many segments in a row and it can not reproduce the original data.

Otherwise Jewel cases are generally accepted as the best method as its harder for the discs to get squashed or scratched during movement. Keep them in a dry place and away form direct sunlight (though if in a case should be ok) and away from excessive heat which could warm them.

When using a CD / DVD ensure the disc has fully stopped spinning before removing. I have had some players where i have heard the disc spinning when its been dumped back on the trolley when ejecting.

Always pick up by the edges and dont place on any surface other than the disc holder or disc drive tray.

Finally keep away from pets and children. My dog once ate its way through 10 cd's each with 10 mp3 albums on them!

p.s. Just found this online @ Life Span of DVDs "MAM-A recommends that to improve data integrity and compatibility, burn your disks more slowly. My recommendation is to burn CDs at 16x speed and DVD's at 2x speed."

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  1. Make an image of the disc (Alcohol120 etc)
  2. Store image on an external drive / synced network share
  3. Archive physical disc

So, "What is the best way to store DVDs?" Archive them in a deep dark place.

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I think keeping CD/DVDs in plastic selves are bad if left in an extreme environment. I had a plastic CD wallet in my car which is prone to experience very high temperatures and very low temperatures along with humidity changes and direct sunlight. I took out a CD one day, and it came out, but the top layer was still stuck to the plastic. It didn't work after that. I have the same style case in my house, and I have never had this problem. So if the discs are kept in a stable environment, there should be little concern to how they are stored.

Oh, and if the bottom layer gets scratches, it can usually be buffed to work again. It is just clear plastic. If the top layer(the label) gets scratched, your data is gone in that area of the disc. It is almost impossible to recover data from a scratch on the top layer. If you hold your disc up to a light it should appear semi-transparent. If you can see bright light coming through a pin hole or bigger, you will have problems.

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I'd say that kept in the right conditions (as you said, away from light and humidity, and excessive heat), they should last 7-10 years. I really don't think that plastic sleeves are bad - there's not that much difference between that and anything else - it's still touching something.
Here are some standard precautions:

  • Don't put them data-side up (the data side is the side without the label)
  • Be extra careful with the inner ring of the data side
  • Store them away from dust
  • Pick up by the edges
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You would rather put the discs data side down then data side up? I find that to be unlogical.. when I put down the disc on the table so I can do something else for 5 minutes I always put it data side up.. –  Thomaschaaf May 10 '09 at 14:40

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