Long-term DVD-labeling Solution?
July 20, 2004 9:33 AM   Subscribe

DVD-labelingFilter. What’s the safest long-term solution? More inside.

Googling for this doesn’t turn up the high-quality of informed discussion on this particular subject that I’ve come to expect from the people here.

I’m in the midst of a massive project to archive my old 8mm and Digital8 tapes from the 80s and 90s to DVD. So far, I haven’t marked the DVDs themselves – just the DVD cases I bought for the purpose. The problem is, if the individual DVDs get separated from the case, there’s no identifying information on them.

I think I’m convinced that sticky labels are definitely out of the question, but I don’t see any definitive opinions as to whether Sharpies are safe. Some people seem to think that the solvents in such pens will eventually eat through the DVD into the data. Others say you’re safe as long as you write as closely as possible to the outer edge, where there’s a lower likelihood of data below the surface.

Assuming my great-great grandchildren somehow have access to a working DVD player (or, more likely, when I’m bumping these DVDs up to the next generation of technology), I don’t want these DVDs to be useless just because I ID’ed them with a Sharpie.

Any strongly-held opinions on this?
posted by baltimore to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
DVDs are actually less prone to damage from labelling than CDs. In DVDs, the aluminum reflective layer with the data is sandwiched between two clear plastic layers. Any adhesive or ink solvents would have to eat through about 1mm of pretty tough plastic before even getting to the data. For CDs, on the other hand, the only thing between the label and the data is a very thin laquer layer. I say go ahead and use the Sharpie.
posted by zsazsa at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2004

Everything I have read about DVD's and labels is do NOT do it. DVD players spin the disc at a higher speed than a cd and the dvd gets hot very quickly and can melt the sticker and cause the problem. I have not had any problem with a sharpie and that is what I have read is the best solution.
posted by thebwit at 10:23 AM on July 20, 2004

on a related note - if you're worried about solvents eating through an archiving project over time, it's worth bearing in mind that no one seems to know how long dvd discs are going to hold their data for. cdr's certainly fade over time. If you're making an archive you value on dvd it's definitely worth paying for high quality discs and I've been recommended to think about re-burning every 10 years or so.
posted by gravelshoes at 11:23 AM on July 20, 2004

FWIW - I've been using a sharpie on my DVDs for a couple years now with zero problems.

I've spent a lot of time trying to get a good answer to this question, as a significant portion of my income is now burned onto plastic discs. No one knows for sure. Which seems stupid. But the general concensus is that DVDs + Sharpies is okay.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:35 PM on July 20, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks zsazsa. I had no idea that there was that much difference between CD and DVD construction.

And, as for the life of DVDs, I do try to buy good quality DVD blanks, but there's no telling how long anything will last. I do feel better knowing that at least I'm doubling my odds with the home movies on tape and on DVD.

By the time I upgrade to a cranial implant for the Heads-Up Display in 2012, I just hope DVDs will copy a bit faster.

posted by baltimore at 12:37 PM on July 20, 2004

Another vote: Sharpie.
posted by majick at 5:31 PM on July 20, 2004

Sharpie here as well. for irony, use a green one.
posted by mrbill at 7:43 PM on July 20, 2004

'sworth noting that the polycarbonate plastic used for CDs/DVDs is hydrophilic and permeable.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on July 20, 2004

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