Millenniata’s M-Disc Write Once DVD and Blu-Ray Optical Discs

In 2009, Millenniata began commercializing its M-Disc–a write-once version of DVD and Blu-Ray media that is designed to last for 1,000 years if stored properly. According to Millenniata’s website,

How is the M-Disc DVD different from normal recordable DVD Discs?

Other Recordable DVDs, including the most expensive “Gold” archival DVDs, burn data into an organic dye layer. Organic dyes start to degrade and fade as soon as they are written, leading to a condition sometimes called “data rot”. This problem is so severe that the National Archives warns that the reliable shelf life of a standard recordable DVD is somewhere between 2 and 5 years. The M-DISC™ contains no organic dyes. Instead, the M-DISC™’s data layer is composed of rock-like materials known to last for centuries. The M-DISC READY™ Drive etches the M-DISC™’s rock-like layer creating a permanent physical data record that is immune to data rot. The stability and longevity of the M-Disc DVD has been proven in rigorous tests conducted according to the ISO/IEC 10995 test standard for determining data lifetime of optical media.

That is partially marketing hype.

First, the claimed 2 to 5 year shelf life for regular recordable DVDs is absurd. Last year I successfully copied about 5,000 recordable DVDs that I had created spanning the early 2000s through about 2012. The only DVDs that I found were unreadable were ones that had been stored improperly.

Second, by “rock-like materials” it just means a layer of an inorganic carbon.

The nice thing about this, though, is that along with not having the potential shelf life issues of organic dyes, the M-Disc’s inorganic layer is apparently much more resistant to oxidation.

What really excited me when reading about these discs recently, however, is that they are now widely available in 100gb versions being sold by Verbatim. A 5-pack of the 100gb discs currently goes for about $68-$81 on Amazon, so these are not cheap. The non-M-Disc version of 100gb BD-Rs goes for about $60 for a 10 pack.

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