FAQ

Have a Question About M-DISC™? It Just Happens to Be Our Favorite Thing to Talk About.

How is the M-Disc DVD different from normal recordable DVD Disks?
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.
What Blu-ray or DVD drive would you recommend I use with my M-Discs?
There are so many options and issues to consider in choosing the “best” Blu-ray or DVD drive that we really can’t recommend one single drive for everyone. In general, we would suggest you purchase a blu-ray drive that supports both M-Disc DVD and M-Disc Blu-ray. This will give you the option of using whichever format is best every time you archive your data, photos, videos, etc. It is also true that a Blu-ray drive will typically do a better job of writing DVD’s as well as Blu-rays. The more-advanced hardware that is required to write a Blu-ray enables the drive to engrave M-Disc DVDs at the highest quality level as well. This is one place where spending a bit more does make a difference.
Why does the firmware version of my drive matter and how do I get the right firmware?
The firmware is the “programming” inside of the drive that tells the drive how to work with different kinds of media, including the M-Disc. It is not uncommon for the drive manufacturer to discover some problems with a drive after it has been manufactured and sold. These problems can be corrected with a firmware update. We always recommend using the latest available firmware. If your drive is having a problem with the M-Disc or is just acting “flaky,” these problems can often be corrected by updating to the latest firmware. We try to provide web links to the latest drive firmware that we know of on our drive information page at http://www.mdisc.com/m-ready/
I’m having a problem successfully engraving data on my M-Discs What should I do?

Good question. We definitely want to help you have a positive data archiving experience using M-Disc. We go to great lengths to make sure that every M-Disc shipped fully complies with the M-Disc specification and exceeds standard specifications. Of course, mistakes do happen and it is possible that the M-Disc is at fault. However, our experience in our own testing laboratory and with customers is that most problems can be traced to the drive.

So, here are some things to check:

1. Does your drive have the M-Disc Logo on it or is it on our list of certified drives? If the answer is No, you may not have a drive that is properly tuned to support the M-Disc Technology.

2. Does the drive you are using to archive data have the latest firmware provided by the manufacturer? Every drive manufacturer maintains a support website where they post downloads for the latest firmware for their products. Please check this site and make sure you aren’t having a problem that the manufacturer has already fixed.

3. If you are experiencing a problem with an M-Disc playing back on another drive, there could be several issues. For example, the M-Disc DVD uses the DVD+R/RW format. This was the last of the DVD formats to be introduced so if the drive you are using to play the disc is older than about 2008, it may not support this format. It could also be that the drive is having problems. Can the drive read other Blu-ray or DVD media (as the case may be) successfully?

4. Don’t waste lots of money and time trying to burn an M-Disc over and over again. M-Discs are much more reliable than ordinary optical media. If you experience a problem engraving an M-Disc, it is not likely that the first disc was bad and the next one will be good. If an M-Disc fails there is probably an underlying problem, not just a bad disc. If you’ve checked through steps 1 – 3 above and everything appears to be OK with your drive, then please e-mail us (sales@mdisc.com) and we’ll be happy to help.

What software package should I use to archive data to an M-Disc?

The software you use will not make a diffierence in the lifetime of your data. Data lifetime comes from a properly-working drive engraving data on an M-Disc. The drive engraving function should not be affected by the software you use on the PC.

We find it difficult to recommend any one software package because individual needs vary and there are so many options. Mac OSX and Windows provide some basic capability.  We work with Nero and CyberLink and they both have some excellent software for archiving data.  We also use a number of shareware/freeware packages such as ImgBurn and Ashampoo in our lab work. We suggest you use the resources and information available on the web to checkout reviews of the software packages you are most interested in and use that information to help you make your choice.  The software you use will not make a diffierence in the lifetime of your data. Data lifetime comes from a properly-working drive engraving data on an M-Disc. The drive engraving function should not be affected by the software you use on the PC.

How is the M-Disc Blu-ray different from normal recordable Blu-ray Disks?

While the M-Disc DVD must be engraved in an “upgraded” DVD drive, the M-Disc Blu-ray should work in a standard Blu-ray drive. We designed the M-Disc Blu-ray to work with all Blu-ray drives and to fit within the Blu-ray standard specs.   The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is the group assembled by the Blu-ray patent holders and others in the industry to control the use of the Blu-ray Logo and to set the specifications for media and drives that ensure interoperability.  The BDA maintains a test and certification program for all Blu-ray media that the media must pass before the manufacturer is authorized to use the Blu-ray Logo. The M-Disc BD-R has been through this test program and passed as 100% compatible and compliant with all of the Blu-ray specifications.  

When it comes to data lifetime, however, the M-Disc Blu-ray is in a different class from all the rest. Standard recordable Blu-ray discs come in both organic and inorganic varieties. The M-Disc Blu-ray is inorganic, just like the DVD. It also incorporates all of the key technology that was introduced with the M-Disc DVD to enable the extraordinary data lifetime that was proven by the China Lake tests and the ISO/IEC 10995 tests conducted by Millenniata. These differences mean a lot, even when compared to standard inorganic recordable Blu-ray discs.

The best way to see that there is a difference is to look at the test data, because the use of inorganic materials in the data layer is just the first step in providing permanent data storage. The details matter a lot in making something that can retain digital data for centuries. This level of performance requires stability to the level of nanometers, or a few 10′s of atoms. This stability has to survive the influence of oxidation, humidity, expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, etc. It also means the entire disc structure has to be stable. So, in addition to the data layer, the choices made in the other components of the disc can matter a great deal.

This is why we point to the test data as the critical factor in choosing a digital data archiving solution. There are so many factors involved that even the experts cannot tell which is better by looking at a few details. Only a test program such as those defined by the ISO/IEC-10995 or ISO/IEC 16963 standards can identify which products and technologies work and are trustworthy, and which are not. While the M-Disc DVD must be engraved in an “upgraded” DVD drive, the M-Disc Blu-ray should work in a standard Blu-ray drive. We designed the M-Disc Blu-ray to work with all Blu-ray drives and to fit within the Blu-ray standard specs.   The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is the group assembled by the Blu-ray patent holders and others in the industry to control the use of the Blu-ray Logo and to set the specifications for media and drives that ensure interoperability.  The BDA maintains a test and certification program for all Blu-ray media that the media must pass before the manufacturer is authorized to use the Blu-ray Logo. The M-Disc BD-R has been through this test program and passed as 100% compatible and compliant with all of the Blu-ray specifications.  

When it comes to data lifetime, however, the M-Disc Blu-ray is in a different class from all the rest. Standard recordable Blu-ray discs come in both organic and inorganic varieties. The M-Disc Blu-ray is inorganic, just like the DVD. It also incorporates all of the key technology that was introduced with the M-Disc DVD to enable the extraordinary data lifetime that was proven by the China Lake tests and the ISO/IEC 10995 tests conducted by Millenniata. These differences mean a lot, even when compared to standard inorganic recordable Blu-ray discs.

What is an M-DISC READY or M-READY Drive and why do I need one?

Millenniata works closely with all of the major optical drive manufacturers such as LG or HLDS, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung or TSST, etc. These partners share our focus on data archiving and work with us to maintain the optimum quality and performance between M-Disc (whether DVD, Blu-ray, or BDXL format) and their optical drive products. The M-Ready Drive (a drive with the M-Disc Logo or a recommendation on our web-site) is a drive that Millenniata has independently verified to meet the M-Disc Standard for quality and performance. Some M-Ready drives only support certain M-Disc formats, such as Blu-ray, but not DVD. M-Ready drives that only work on certain formats will not carry the M-Disc Logo. If a drive carries the M-Disc logo, you can be confident that it will work on all M-Disc Formats.

Of course, the M-Disc Logo does not mean that Millenniata or M-Disc has taken responsibility to provide customer support for that drive. While we are happy to help, the drive manufacturer is responsible or any problems or concerns with your M-Ready drive.Millenniata works closely with all of the major optical drive manufacturers such as LG or HLDS, Panasonic, Pioneer, Samsung or TSST, etc. These partners share our focus on data archiving and work with us to maintain the optimum quality and performance between M-Disc (whether DVD, Blu-ray, or BDXL format) and their optical drive products. The M-Ready Drive (a drive with the M-Disc Logo or a recommendation on our web-site) is a drive that Millenniata has independently verified to meet the M-Disc Standard for quality and performance. Some M-Ready drives only support certain M-Disc formats, such as Blu-ray, but not DVD. M-Ready drives that only work on certain formats will not carry the M-Disc Logo. If a drive carries the M-Disc logo, you can be confident that it will work on all M-Disc Formats.

Can the M-Disc DVD be read by regular DVD drives?
Yes. The M-READY™ Drive engraves the M-DISC™ using a compatible data format that can be read by most quality DVD drives.
Can the M-Disc DVD or M-Disc Blu-ray be written using regular optical disc (Non-M-READY) Drives?

The M-Disc Blu-ray meets all of the specifications for the Blu-ray recordable (BD-R) format. This means it should work in any Blu-ray writer. Our testing indicates that it will work in over 80% of Blu-ray drives made after about 2011.

The M-Disc DVD requires an upgraded disc drive that can deliver the increased laser power required to burn an M-Disc DVD. Therefore, only an M-READY Drive can burn data to an M-Disc DVD.

For guidance on choosing a drive for use with an M-Disc format, please see our recommended M-Ready Drives here: http://www.mdisc.com/m-ready/ The M-Disc Blu-ray meets all of the specifications for the Blu-ray recordable (BD-R) format. This means it should work in any Blu-ray writer. Our testing indicates that it will work in over 80% of Blu-ray drives made after about 2011.

Are M-Discs and M-READY Drives compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows?

Yes, all M-READY™ Drives are compatible with computers using the Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems. Windows (Vista and later) and the Mac OS X operating systems provide optical drive software support, including the ability to engrave data onto the M-DISC™. Depending on which OS you have, you may want to choose additional 3rd-party software to help you organize your data and write it to the M-Disc.

The reason why some drives, especially Blu-ray drives, may be described by the manufacturer as PC only is because the bundled software included with the drive is PC only, not because of a basic hardware incompatibility. If the optical disc drive you want to purchase is described as PC only it can typically still be used on a Mac. Two software packages that are well accepted for Max OS X are Final Cut Pro and Roxio Toast Titanium. Other software packages we recommend are provided by NERO or CyberLink. There is also some good freeware or shareware software available on the internet. Yes, all M-READY™ Drives are compatible with computers using the Mac, Linux and Windows operating systems. Windows (Vista and later) and the Mac OS X operating systems provide optical drive software support, including the ability to engrave data onto the M-DISC™. Depending on which OS you have, you may want to choose additional 3rd-party software to help you organize your data and write it to the M-Disc.

How much data can the M-DISC™ hold?

The M-Disc DVD can hold upto 4.7 gigabytes.

The M-Disc Blu-ray can hold up to 25 gigabytes.

The M-Disc BDXL can hold up to 100 gigabytes.

For the purpose of defining how much data a disc can hold, we are using the standard definition that has been used with hard drives and other storage media for decades. This definition defines a gigabyte as being 1 x 10^9 bytes or a billion bytes. There is another definition for gigabyte that is also used frequently in information technology. This definition is that a gigabyte is 1024^3 bytes or 1,073,741,824 bytes. For more information about the differences between these two definitions and why they exist, please check wikipedia or other information sources.

How fast can my data be burned to an M-Disc?
The M-Disc DVD and M-Disc BD-R are designed to be written at 4X speed. This means writing a full disc (DVD: 4.7 GB and BD-R: 25 GB) will typically take a little less than 30 minutes for either DVD or Blu-ray.
What does “burning a disc” mean?
“Burning a disc” is a common phrase that refers to writing data to optical media such as CDs, DVDs or Blu-Rays. This phrase made a lot of sense when referring to optical media that used organic dyes. For M-Disc, we feel a more accurate phrase would be “engraving a disc.” Whatever description you use to describe the process, please make sure you are using a high-quality optical drive (such as an M-READY drive) that can do the job properly.
Can I erase or remove files from an M-DISC™?
No. All M-DISC™s (whether DVD, Blu-ray, or BDXL) are designed to permanently archive information. Once the information is burned it cannot be changed.
Can I add additional files to an M-DISC™ after it has been burned?
Some burning software applications allow for adding additional files to the disc if it has not been closed (sometimes referred to as finalizing or fixing the disc). Refer to your burning software documentation for more information about this. This multi-session capability may or may not be turned on by default in your software.
Should I finalize an M-DISC™ after writing the data? (Finalizing a disc can also be referred to as “close session” or “fixate the disc”)
Finalizing the disc assures maximum read back capability on other drives. This is true for any optical disc, not just the M-Disc. Please Note: Do not finalize until you are completely finished burning data to the disc, as you will not be able to add any additional data to the disc after it is finalized. Refer to your burning software documentation for the proper disc finalization procedures.
Can I use an M-READY™ Drive to write data to an M-DISC™ without a computer?
No. Like all optical drives, an M-DISC READY™ Drive requires a connection to a computer to read or write data.
What burning software is compatible with an M-DISC?
M-Disc (whether DVD, Blu-ray, or BDXL) can be used with any software package you want to use. The data engraving process that makes M-Disc so reliable and durable happens entirely within the drive. The software you use to manage the archiving of your data on an M-Disc can be important in creating organized records that you can later find and use, but it won’t affect the permanence of the data on the M-Disc.
How can you prove that an M-DISC™ will last for centuries?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has defined longevity testing standards for optical disc media. These ISO Standards (IOS/IEC 10995 and ISO/IEC 16963) are based on the work done by Arrhenius and Eyring that relates the effects of testing at elevated temperatures and humidity to the lifetime of a product. This is the same type of testing done to determine the lifetime of integrated circuits, paints, cars, and many other things.

Millenniata has tested the M-DISC™ DVD and BD-R according to these standards. The results of these tests demonstrate that an M-Disc can be relied on to provide permanent storage for centuries and beyond. You can find a report on these test results here: (Summary Test Results LInk).

Additional testing has been done by the US Navy at their Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, California. The purpose of their test program was to simulate the conditions found in combat aircraft and on warships. It employed elevated temperatures, high humidity, and high-intensity light. This test focused on DVDs and the M-DISC™ DVD was the only DVD to make it through all test conditions. Given the combination of the M-DISC™’s test results and its rock-like data layer, it is easy to demonstrate that the M-Disc can be expected to last for centuries.

What temperature can an M-DISC™ withstand?
The M-DISC™ can withstand temperatures of 176°F (80°C) for a number of days with no effect to the data or the readability of the data in a standard DVD drive. This should be considered an example of the extraordinary durability of the M-Disc, not a standard feature. In other words, if you leave an M-Disc in a hot car in the desert for a day or two, everything should be fine, but don’t make it a habit. Extremely high temperatures over a few months period of time will have an effect on the lifetime of your data. In order to maximize data lifetime, an M-DISC™ should be stored under typical room-temperature and humidity conditions.
Can an M-DISC™ withstand UV rays and prolonged exposure to the sun?
M-DISC™ products can withstand the full spectrum of the sun, including UV rays, for days with no effect to the data or the readability of the data. However, prolonged exposure to full sunlight could weaken the plastic substrate leading to brittleness and cracking of the substrate at some point. Of course, a cracked substrate will probably lead to problems reading the data on the disk. In order to maximize archival lifetime, avoid prolonged exposure of any M-DISC™ to sunlight.
The M-DISC™ may be around for centuries, but why would that matter if optical drives won’t last for centuries?

Every storage technology faces the same question. The M-DISC™ is unique because it provides options that didn’t exist before. The stability of the M-DISC™ allows people to migrate data at their own convenience. Every other data storage option (Hard Drives, Flash Drives, etc) forces a repetitive and expensive physical rotation of stored data—re-saving the data before it is lost. So, the question isn’t about whether or not a drive will be available a few centuries from now. It is really about not having to worry about your data integrity until YOU are ready to do something else with it.

There is a second point to consider. Optical Discs have been around since the early 1980′s and you can still read that original CD-ROM on the latest Blu-ray drives. There are also billions of CD’s, DVD’s, and Blu-ray discs with songs, movies, and data on them that millions of people want to be able to use. Just as the continuing market for LPs (Long-playing vinyl records) maintains a now-obsolete technology that was invented in the 1930′s because there are a lot of people who still want it, optical disc drives will be available for a long time to come because of the extraordinary penetration of optical discs into the lives of billions of ordinary people all over the world.

What is the preferred method for labeling an M-DISC™?
We recognize that it is important to be able to identify individual discs so you can keep track of your stored information. The challenge in answering this question is that there is no way we can test every way in which someone would label their discs. So you need to consider what your goals are. If you are saving data for the next 20 – 30 years, using ink-jet printable discs and labeling them how you please should be pretty safe. If your goal is to save information for a century or more we suggest you take a more conservative approach and use just a serial number or a simple name marked on the inner hub of the disc where no data is recorded and then maintain a separate index that links that serial number or name to a more extensive description of the data on the disc. This is similar to what a professional archivist would do.
How do I store an M-DISC™ to maximize the data lifetime?
The M-DISC™ is extremely durable and can withstand even extreme environmental conditions (heat, humidity, light, etc.) for a reasonable period of time. However, extreme conditions will shorten the data lifetime of your data and the disc itself. Therefore, we suggest storing your M-DISCs upright (but not touching each other or with other objects touching the surface) in light-tight plastic or metal containers that keep the discs clean and dry and keeping the container in a cool, dry, location that is not subject to large temperature fluctuations. For most people, storing discs in an office or bedroom closet would be a good start.
What can an M-Disc DVD or M-Disc Blu-ray hold?

You may be surprised how much stuff you can archive on an M-Disc. An M-Disc DVD can hold approximately 8,000 typical digital photos, or 1200 songs, or 240 minutes of high-def mp4 video, or as much as 100,000 document pages. An M-Disc Blu-ray can hold approximately 5 times as much as the M-Disc DVD.

Both the M-Disc Blu-ray and the M-Disc DVD can be used to hold any combination of data, video, and audio that you want. The issue isn’t what can the disc hold, but how you can best organize your data so you can find it in the future.

Where can I purchase M-DISCs?
M-DISC can be purchased through a variety of channels and under several brands. Along with the flagship M-Disc brand, Verbatim offers M-Disc DVDs, Blu-rays, and BDXL discs. The Verbatim brand (and other brands such as TraxData) are available from a variety of resellers and retail locations. The Verbatim roll-out of the M-Disc is just beginning, so you’ll see more and more availability as time goes on. If you can’t find M-Disc in your area, you can always find M-Disc at Amazon.com or on our website at mdisc.com.
Where can I purchase an M-DISC READY™ Drive?
An M-DISC READY™ Drive can be purchased from a variety of resellers and retail locations.  Here is a list of our recommended drives:  http://www.mdisc.com/m-ready/
Can I burn regular DVDs on an M-READY™ DVD Drive?
Yes, all M-Ready DVD Drives or M-Ready Blu-ray Drives support all of the standard media formats in addition to M-Disc.
Are you working on a CD version of M-Disc?
No, we don’t plan a CD version of the M-Disc. We recognize there are some customers who would like to have an M-Disc that they can play in their CD players, but this market is very small. Also, the cost of making an M-Disc CD would be essentially the same as making an M-Disc DVD, so there would be no cost advantage to an M-Disc CD. In fact, there would be a disadvantage in terms of cost per gigabyte of storage. For these reasons, we’ve concluded that the return on investment for an M-Disc CD doesn’t make sense.
Why can’t I find your products available in my area?
M-Disc is rapidly changing the face of digital archiving and the optical disc market, but it is still relatively new. We are working with Verbatim, Traxdata, RiDATA, and other optical disc brands around the world to make M-Discs available everywhere, but accomplishing all of this takes time. If you can’t find M-Disc at your local retailer, please let them know you are looking for M-Disc and encourage them to carry it. This will help us get distribution in your area more quickly. You can also check out M-Disc.com or ritek.com/m-disc/eng/index.asp to purchase M-Disc via the internet.