Thursday, June 7, 2007

The DVD-R vanishes

It's been a fairly long time since I started using digital media in my day to day life.
First DAT that ADAT then AIFF & SD II files on the Macintosh. Amazingly I had no problems with digital tape, few issues with audio files on the computer.

A few weeks ago while my wife was out of town I decided to toss in a DVD-R that I had recorded a concert on. I had left the last 100 or so burns on the spindle, which I knew was lazy and stupid, my lack of labeling was bad enough but this was a new low.

When I popped the disk in the computer spat it out. I tried again.. Spfitttttttt!! out it shot.
Shit!! No error message from the computer, no visible damage to the DVD-R. I was panicked. I started to go through every disk on that pile, all were bad.

After several hours of testing about 100 DVD-R disks on 4 computers running three OS' and two DVD player I realized something horrible had happened. But what was it? All good media, slow burns, verified and played back...

I have many disks here and the only ones that went bad were left on a spindle. I searched the Interwebs for clues but found no exact matches to my situation. I began calling experts and no one could come up with an explanation.

It then dawned on me... I have Pro Tools sessions and video work for myself and others backed up on DVD-R. I don't know where to begin.

This page talks about care for various optical media and is useful but does even hint at what I'm dealing with. I looked at various data recovery applications but didn't see one that looked good and was OS X. I don't know whether that speaks well or poorly for my chosen platform.

One thing I have seen over and over is that long term data storage should be done on hard drives, which leaves me to wonder what the fuck DVD-R's are for exactly. The other interesting thing is the CD-R is much more trust worthy and rugged, this is most likely because it's not trying to squeeze so much data onto such a small space.