DVDs won't last

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray
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DVDs won't last

Unread post by sepiatone » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:08 pm

Im listening to KimKomando's tech show today and she said something astounding. DVDs(Blu Ray included) won't last; the physical disc that is. This is important to me since I've invested in many a disc, due to change from tape, and now the same thing is predicted similar to the old laserdisc. I thought DVD wasn't supposed to end up with a limited life like LaserDisc.

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So what else is new?

Unread post by CoffeeDan » Sat Nov 19, 2011 5:49 pm

Well, in the long run, NOTHING lasts and we'll all be dead.

I've been hearing stories about "laser rot" since CDs became popular in the mid-'80s, and I've yet to see any physical evidence of it (i.e., something I can hold in my hand). No CDs or DVDs in my personal collection show any signs of rot, and I have discs that go back to the beginning of both those technologies. Yes, I've seen articles accompanied by pictures of grotty-looking discs, but it hasn't happened to me or anybody I know.

If I do come across any decaying discs, I'll certainly let my fellow NitrateVillians know about it, but until then I won't get excited. And neither should you.

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Rick Lanham
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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Sat Nov 19, 2011 7:23 pm

I have a DVD that doesn't play well during its "extras" section; Assunta Spina. I have assumed that it is a manufacturing defect, as there is no visible "rot." It hasn't bothered me enough to ask for a replacement, although I have considered starting a thread about "defective DVDs." I used to have laser discs, so I know what it is supposed to look like.

Back in the day on some Usenet forum, we used to make fun of Kim since she made so many bone-headed errors on her show. I'm sure she is just reporting what someone else wrote. I've listened to her sometimes in the past year. She seems to have gotten more knowledgeable or I have senility.

Rick, former computer/electronics technician.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by sepiatone » Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:33 pm

Rick Lanham wrote:I have a DVD that doesn't play well during its "extras" section; Assunta Spina.

Back in the day on some Usenet forum, we used to make fun of Kim since she made so many bone-headed errors on her show. I'm sure she is just reporting what someone else wrote. I've listened to her sometimes in the past year. She seems to have gotten more knowledgeable or I have senility.

Rick, former computer/electronics technician.
yep I'm getting that notion about Kim too. She's getting paid to say something 'pro' about for instance carbonite. But even she has let it slip out that it's not 100percent. She's not a dingbat I don't think, but just motivated by whatever advertiser is paying into the show.

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Christopher Jacobs
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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Christopher Jacobs » Sun Nov 20, 2011 2:04 am

Of course, nothing will last forever, and the newer it is, it seems, the less likely it is to last for a longer time. DVD-Rs definitely have some problems when cheap media has been used, but I've never seen any problem with a commercially stamped DVD yet (but they've only been on the market about 15 years now). I expect the players will be obsolete and unusable before most of the discs go bad.

Pulp paper books will start going bad after a few years, and books from a hundred years ago may now be crumbling, whereas books made 200 years ago look like they've just been printed because they're on linen-based paper. The past half to three quarters-century or so has been all about immediacy and imminent replacement by the next best thing, whereas books and cars and buildings (and film equipment) used to be expected to last a lifetime or more with proper care. Now it's usually cheaper to replace something than to have it repaired.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Jonathan » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:39 am

In the 1990s I had about 50 CDs "rot" very quickly; it was a known problem with pressings made at the UK's PDO plant and a helpline was set up to replace them or (if deleted) provide a refund. But it was very time-consuming having to keep going through my collection and checking them for deterioration - they went brown from the edges, so the last tracks were always affected first.

I believe part of the problem was contact with the ink from booklets, and there has been a similar issue with the earlier David Attenborough nature DVDs in the UK. Several series I owned were affected. All the discs that had contact - when stored - with shiny photographic illustrations on the cardboard acquired a "frost" pattern on the playing surfaces (even though those sides weren't the ones in contact), which also became sticky and unplayable. I believe some people have managed to get them exchanged, but so far I've been able to make them playable again by washing and wiping the sticky residue off with warm water.

I now store these discs separate from the packaging and in fact, after these experiences, try to avoid any discs having contact with booklets or printed packaging. I understand a number of MGM titles manufactured in the UK have also "rotted" though I don't know if the cause was the same.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by boblipton » Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:02 pm

DVD won't last? I'm feeling a mite tired myself.

Come to think of it. I had dinner with a niece and her boyfriend a couple of months ago. He was aghast that I hadn't advanced beyond dvd. Now he's history.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Mitchell Dvoskin » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:39 pm

I have had only one commercially pressed CD rot, a British import of the Tangerine Dream soundtrack to Flashpoint on the Heavy Metal World Wide label, manufactured by M.P.O in France. I've been buying CD's since 1984, and currently have almost a thousand of them, all the other pressed ones are fine. My experience with CD-R's has not been as good, regardless of the brand of blank used, but even then, only a small minority of discs have failed over time.

I bought a DVD player the first month they were available in the USA. It came with 3 discs, which still play fine.

I have a friend who works for a company that sells the raw material used in the plastic in CD/DVD/BluRay, and back in 1985 he gave me a bunch of technical reasons that CD's would not last, mainly because the type of plastic used absorbs moisture. Fortunately, his predictions of doom have not come to pass.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by radiotelefonia » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:03 pm

I have MP3 CDs that spoiled themselves, even though I was careful and tried my best to keep them safe. With them, I lost a big number of recordings. One of these discs even broke inside my computer, which is spoiled because of that.


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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Joe Migliore » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:18 pm

According to THE X LAB: "DVD rot has been debunked as a chronic problem, yet it remains a persistent urban legend. While there have been documented cases of deterioration in specific discs, they appear to be the result of poor manufacturing. Improper storage and handling can damage DVDs. In particular, excessive bending, such as when removing a DVD from its case, can result in delamination, the physical separation of the DVD's layers where they are glued together."

I hope this lets everyone sleep more soundly.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:01 pm

I have a CD-R that was burned in 1994. A Warner Borthers album test disc. Its the oldest one I have and the digital bits still extract from it very nicely as of last year. (crossing fingers they still do)

My advise with this media is to get an external harddrive and copy the content of all your limited edition CD, hard to find, never will be rereleased stuff to it with a digital rights management code breaker as lossless WAV files. Get an extractor for DVDs. DVD-Rs can be dragged and dropped.

I have a few discs from the mid 1990s that are getting brown around the edges. All are Westwood One music and interview radio station CDs and luckily they still play well. The luck of the draw.

Everyone who posted above is right. Nothing lasts forever.
Last edited by Darren Nemeth on Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Phototone » Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:24 am

The only optical media that I have personally experienced aging defects are Laserdiscs. All my CD's and DVD's (and I have thousands) both home burned and factory made all play fine from the first ones I purchased in the late 1980's (CDs) to the present....unless I have physically damaged the disc thru poor handling.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:10 pm

Every winter I make a point of watching several of the great PBS series produced in the halcyon days (for PBS) of the '70s & '80s, which a local millionaire purchased for our small library. VHS, of course. Though watched 100s of times by now, only the slightest evidence of fading is evident. Presently watching (for the 10th time, at least) Civilization, dating from 1969. Cond. of the tapes, all things considered, is outstanding--a hard act for DVDs to follow.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by All Darc » Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:57 pm

I have some cheap CDs with just 17 years that have oxidation dots. And a CD-R of just 8 years with a bit dots of silver missing.

When the manufactures use no protection layer or a very thinny layer, or bad varnishs, or not very pure silver, crap will happen in a short time.
The first dual layer discs have a problem on the glue, leading many ones to "crap out" in a month or two.

A single layer made with very pure silver will last longer, but even so will crap out one day.

The most durable things, in terms of stoprage, are still dried aninal skin, like some medieval books, or stone written.
The B&W photographyc paper of your grand-grandfathers can last a century or more, but the digital media of today, if not transfered, will mostly be gone in 25 yers or less.

All videos people make all the time today, the hundred digital photos people took at each trip vacation, will mostly be gone.

There is a very nice documentary of Discovery Channl about that. Not just for documents and audivisual, but even building, roadas, nearly everyting today, will last less than the traditional roman & egitian creations. The roman concrete last longer than modern concrete.

Even the TV station elemagnetic signals, that go to space, will turn to noise after few years travelling on deep space, and not even super aliens will be able to see.

Our civilization it's really a mess :lol:
Keep thinking...


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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by SilentsPlease » Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:13 am

But online storage may add longevity to our data. For instance, you take pictures with your iPhone, sync them to iCloud, and iCloud pushes them to your other devices (iPad, other iPhones), and the result is you end up with MULTIPLE copies of the photos - on your devices, on the Internet, and possible on your PC or Mac. That adds the needed redundancy that is key to reliable backups of data. You would lose your pictures only if you lost all your devices and computers AND your Internet connection all at once, which is not likely. With iPhone and the likes being so widely used, many people are beginning to use iCloud and other online backup solution, adding hope that our data would be much more long-lasting. Civilization may be a mess but often civilization finds a way :).

I have thousands of purchased discs and thousands of burned discs, and my experience has been that only a small percentage of discs have been problematic. I only have had one purchased disc (The Descent blu-ray) that failed to play after a year. Among burned discs, only one particular brand/lot failed to play after a few months. Among my laserdiscs, again only a small percent have problems. I have 20-year-old LDs that still play. I have also transferred some of my old media to newer media: from LD to DVD, CD to MP3, DVD to hard drives, scanning photos to PC, etc. The key is, again, to always have some sort of backups. That was probably what the people of Atlantis didn't have, with not a single trace of their civilization left behind.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by Dan » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:31 pm

I have a few double-sided dual-layer DVDs that have had minor problems. No other DVD or CD problems. Been buying CDs since 1987, DVDs since 2001. I own about 150 DVDs and about 350 CDs.

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Re: DVDs won't last

Unread post by s.w.a.c. » Tue May 29, 2012 7:34 am

I have a handful of classical CDs from the earliest days of the format that are unplayable now. The sound is distorted and unlistenable. Also, I had a mid-'90s three-CD Ella Fitzgerald set on Verve, a very nicely packaged collection, that now sounds distorted and is unbearably noisy. The physical condition of the discs is fine, to the naked eye, but over time the sound has simply deteriorated.

As far as DVDs go, I know some early Anchor Bay dual-layer discs had issues, primarily some Hammer titles that went out of print and were highly desirable, but hard to find in playable condition. Also, I ordered some expensive collector's edition David Lynch DVDs (short films and Eraserhead) that I had to return because they were inferior pressings whose image quality deteriorated shortly after I received them (they had that "coffee stain" look to them when I got them, and even the replacement copies they sent me get a spin every few months, just as a quality check). I believe this was also a dual-layer separation issue.
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