Warning: Don’t Stack Blank BD-R DL Discs in Sleeves!

Normally, I do posts reviewing products, random thoughts or experimenting with things. But this time, this is probably one of my first cautionary articles based on what just happened to me.

The Story

On 25th December 2013, about a year ago, I ordered twenty TDK premium BD-R DL 4x discs for a backup burn session. These discs came from a Japanese eBay seller, being packed in sleeves as seems to be a common arrangement.

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I really dislike the sleeve “repackaging” operation as sleeves can introduce some dust onto the disc surfaces, which can affect burn and test quality. Regardless, this was what was on offer, so I reluctantly accepted.

The discs had media identification code of TDKBLD-RFB-000. About 14 of the discs were used within the first month of receiving them, and burned with reasonable quality and no failures. This left me six discs in spare, which I decided to hold until they were actually needed.

Unfortunately, room in my “room” is relatively limited, and things quickly become buried under a pile of stuff. In the case of these discs, they remained in their sleeves with a 100-pack spindle and a jewel case sitting on top of them for about 10 months or so.

What the Hell?

I then had a project which required a BD-R DL disc, and satisfied that I had some good blanks left over, I grabbed one and put it into my favourite Pioneer BDR-209DBK and fired up the trusty Imgburn. It choked at identifying the disc for a while, and then came up with Incompatible Medium Installed. Only two of the remaining discs were detected by the Pioneer, but the burns failed with problems with servo tracking.

errored

I swear the discs are compatible, so I took it out and examined the bottom surface. There was some evidence of potential outgassing or chemical reaction of the sleeve liner material with the bottom surface, creating a spotty pattern on the bottom of the disc. A good run with a microfibre cloth and high purity isopropyl alcohol removed the pattern, however, the drive continued to dislike the disc altogether.

As the burner was the newest one in my fleet, I was skeptical that it was actually a problem, so I resorted to “trusty-ol” LG GGW-H20L 6x Supermultiblue burner. Putting the disc in resulted in a moderately long detection time, and this time, the blank was correctly identified.

But the burning process was problematic. Of four discs attempted, one disc never started despite given eight hours – being stuck in a spin-up and down loop at Reserving Track. The others took 10-30 minutes to clear reserving track, and two of them failed mid burn with Servo Following Error/Invalid Address for Write. The only one that wrote correctly failed verification at 10% on the first layer with read error. Some of the discs were burnt at 4x selection, others at 2x selection, with failures at both settings.

The discs were totally screwed. Issues with the burners have been eliminated – they both showed the same issues and had no issues with burning single layer media.

Post Mortem and Hypothesis

Taking a look at the discs I had kept (others destroyed out of rage) gives a bit of an idea of just how hard the drive tried to get a write.

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This burn errored out in a short time, but clearly has a thick band near the centre of the hub which is the power calibration area. It implies the drive spent a lot of time trying to tune the laser power to make the written data readable, much more than reasonably expected on a good disc.

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The disc that burnt further exhibits strange “variations” in burn beta (darkness), best seen when examining the full size image by clicking. Patches of the media seem to remain unburnt as if the media response is uneven – possibly related to where more pressure was applied to the disc surface by the slightly ridged pattern of the sleeves.

The discs that were not stored for significant periods, or under much physical pressure, burnt fine the first time with no recording quality abnormalities even within this same batch. It is likely the storage conditions or the storage time itself could have caused the issue.

My hypothesis based on this observation is that the weight pressure placed on the discs may have interfered with the definition of the two layers on the disc and may have “compressed” them unevenly, damaging their very closely specified separation and making focusing on each layer difficult to impossible. The separator between layers may have been punctured by the weight pressure causing the media to be less sensitive to laser at those points, or be de-focussed and not actually burn the media correctly.

Conclusion

I suppose all of this is my fault for carelessly stacking things upon blank BluRay discs, but it definitely deserves a mention in case someone else might have experienced this. In all, sleeves seem to be a suboptimal storage solution because of the outgassing causing patterns to be remnant on the disc surface which can affect burn quality significantly, and the ridged pattern being impressed into the disc under pressure can affect the recording coat.

I have no idea if discs stored under compressive strain (stacked in tall stack in sleeves) are affected if they are already burnt, but it appears that it pays benefit to exercise caution.

It was a pretty expensive lesson after all with six BD-R DL discs lost … but maybe if the discs were left for a few weeks without compressive force on them, their layers might return to a better definition? I’m not sure, but I don’t have any more of the bad discs to test the theory on.

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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4 Responses to Warning: Don’t Stack Blank BD-R DL Discs in Sleeves!

  1. texaspyro says:

    Although one can’t tell from the photo, that sleeve looks like it is made out of PVC. PVC is nasty stuff for any kind of archival storage. It outgases/decomposes into all sort of corrosive goodies.

    Quick test for PVC: heat up a piece of copper wire with a lighter, touch the plastic with the hot wire to melt some of it onto the wire, then stick the wire back into the flame. If it burns green, you probably have PVC.

  2. Pingback: Warning: Don’t store Blu-ray discs in Sleeves & Heat Gun Revival Technique | Gough's Tech Zone

  3. Steve_C says:

    The issue I have just encountered with my remaining TDK DL R (2) and RE (6) disks [all packed in original jewel cases BTW] is that they have almost instantly become unrecognised by my Pioneer BDR-205 BD-RE drive… Even discs I had written to when I originally received the discs approx. 7-8 months ago (and worked fine in both my PC BD drive as wells as my PS3 drive) now no longer work at all!

    The discs are all in the jewel cases I purchased them in – and have been stacked/stored horizontally in a dedicated drawer to reduce the possibility of strong sun light or excessive temperature swings etc damaging them…

    Yet, the failure rate is more than alarming!

    Clearly, BD disc technology – especially DL technology has issues… and while I usually don’t want to sound like a ‘conspiracy theorist’ or a member of the “tin-foil hat” brigade, it does reek of collusion that the DL layer discs are (from my experience at least!) the only discs to suffer from this ‘falling off the cliff’ style of failure!!

    None of my 25Gig single layer Bluray discs/writes has failed; nor have and of my CD/DVD writes using the same BD-RE drive – yet a large proportion of my 50Gig R discs and ALL of my 50Gig RE discs are kaput!! That’s 7 out of 10 R discs and 10 RE discs… An expensive exercise indeed!!

    • lui_gough says:

      It’s not the only sort. I’ve had falling off the cliff style failures with early Ritek 25Gb single layer recordables which I have well documented before: http://goughlui.com/legacy/stateofbdr/index.htm

      That being said, I haven’t had any of my written TDK DL (R and RE) fail on me yet, I will keep a close eye. My MKM 2x BD-R DL’s are all okay so far. It is expensive, and it’s partly the reason I have mostly given up on BluRay for now (aside from the fact that storage needs continue to increase, and 25/50Gb is peanuts now).

      – Gough

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