A DVD’s Average Life Expectancy? Too Short.

Aug 17, 2009 No Comments by

Just in case you didn’t know… although DVDs were previously projected to possibly outlast your lifetime, studies are now showing that DVDs may in fact have a relatively short life.

Roy H. Williams from The Monday Morning Memo reports:

“Last month, NASA learned their original copy of the moon landing video was nowhere to be found. Perhaps you heard about it.

This historic footage was recovered when NASA scrounged four badly degraded, barely viewable copies from around the world, then painfully stacked, merged and recompiled them to recreate the video. At the time of this writing – 3 weeks into the project – $230,000 has been spent and only 40 percent of the work has been done.

You thought magnetic tape lasted longer than that?

Evidently, so did NASA.

Now for the Bad News: The DVDs you and I burn have a shorter lifespan than videotape. Homemade DVDs last only 6 to 8 years. And the faster your burning speed, the shorter the life of your DVD.”

But what about the DVDs you bought ten years ago and still play just fine?

Roy reports,

“Mass-duplicated DVDs are made using an entirely different process known as “glass mastering” that’s viable only when making a large number of copies.

Oh, you bought a “gold” DVD so you think your photographs, videos, important documents and creative work are safe?

UPDATE: When the information on DVDs began to disappear, we assumed the reflective backing was becoming tarnished so “gold” DVDs were introduced because gold doesn’t tarnish. But these gold DVDs are degrading just as fast as the silver ones.

The tarnishing of the reflective surface was only a small problem. The big problem is the fading of the laser-sensitive ink in the sandwich layer between the clear plastic and the reflective surface. Remember when fax machines used rolls of thermal fax paper and the faxes they made would fade after a year or two? Same problem.”

So now what to do? Roy recommends switching to burning your DVDs onto a Cranberry disc.
A Cranberry disc is “a DVD made of high-tech, man-made stone and the data carved on a Cranberry will likely last longer than the pyramids. No ink layer. No fading. Problem solved.”

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