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CD and DVD Burning

What discs to buy, how to best burn them, how to print on them, how to store them.

  Those with interest in video editing will undoubtedly find interest in burning their works to DVD. General knowledge in burning DVDs can often be applicable to CDs and vice-versa.

Disc Brands

  In general, the only two brands I trust are Taiyo Yuden and Verbatim. The two are most highly recommended, and unlike many other brands, they can be played in most DVD players. Get the DVD-R for even higher compatibility (this is because -R has been around longer).

  Taiyo Yuden is more a premium than anything, and I only use it when burning DVDs for distribution - more specifically, I only use the Watershield, which allows you to print at photo/gloss quality on the disc and is water-resistant (Tests from Burnsmart). There’s no other reason (for me at least) to use it as it’s very expensive. The only place to get it (for me anyways) is online; there are many fakes so be careful where you buy. I usually buy from SuperMediaStore or Rima.

  For everything else like archival, I use Verbatim, which is much cheaper but arguably equivalent to or better than the Taiyo Yuden in longetivity (Verbatim vs Taiyo Yuden at CDFreaks). At regular price, it is also quite expensive, but Office Max usually has them onsale about every few weeks - dropping the price from $40-$50 to just $19 for 100 (even less sometimes). Make sure, however, that the ones you order are made in Taiwan or Singapore; there are reports that those made in India are not as reliable.

Burning DVDs and CDs

  From my experience, the only program I recommend to use is ImgBurn. It’s not only free but it is highly recommended from most sources I’ve read. It does most things you’ll ever need - burn files, read/write ISOs. I’d even use it over Adobe Encore - surprisingly DVDs I burned from Encore could not play in an old DVD player of mine. Only by creating an ISO from Encore and then burning it in ImgBurn did it work.

  A general rule of thumb is to burn your disc at half the speed it’s designed for. If your disc says 16x, burn at 8x. This is supposedly the best way to minimize “coasters” or write errors, but I’ve never even had one problem burning discs before so I can’t say.

Printing on Discs

  If you’re using a printable disc (I always use the Watershield), the only printers in the U.S. that print directly on discs are Epson printers. Apparently Epson has a patent on the technology and no other company can sell cd printers (Explanation from VideoHelp Forums). If you want to buy from outside the U.S., most recommend Canon - you can get the printer and then purchase a tray from eBay before performing some modifications (see

  If you’d prefer just using the Epson printer (like me :P ), there are also alternatives. Most people avoid Epson because the ink can often cost more than the printer itself (see the R280/R260 for example). What you can do to avoid this is what’s called a Continuous Ink System - where tubing hooked up to the printer allows it to draw ink from bottles outside (which you purchase cheaply from alternative brands).

My Printer <— My Printer

  The CIS I currently use and seems to be most recommended is the one from InkRepublic. The quality as far as I can tell is superb; I wouldn’t be able to tell from the original ink at all. Best of all, it seems as if I never run out of ink. However, there are a few things I recommend:

- Slide a metal straight-edge or some other smooth surface between the printer roof and ink cartridges to keep the ink cartridges from running into the roof of the printer. You can duct-tape it but I’ve found the tape continuously wears out (if you find some magic super-strong tape, do tell me :P).
- Use your printer at least once every few weeks. I ran into the hassle of the ink clogging after a long period without using it (don’t believe it’s specific to the ink itself). You’ll notice certain colors not printing out. Fortunately, if you run into this problem, InkRepublic also has a cleaning kit for exactly this kind of problem and it does work.

Disc Storage and Maintenance

  Most sources I’ve read say that keeping the discs up vertically maintain their longetivity best. The case itself does not really matter as much (only protects your disc externally); I usually use sleeves if it’s a disc I won’t be taking in and out very often. Spindles work for mass storage; it may not be immediately noticable but stacking discs do not harm them because there is a tiny grooved ring at the bottom of each disc, separating the discs by a few millimeters. Again however, I would only keep them in a sleeve or stack if I don’t plan on taking them out often.

     As for longevity, discs say they can last up to a hundred years but really who’s going to be able to test that? Some discs even advertise archival grade for 250 years, but I’m pretty sure I’d transition to a new media by then (we’re already switching to blu-ray, and vhs lasted barely about half a century).

     So far though, I’ve not had any discs (at least with the above brands) fail on me. There was one disc that came up blank for me, but it turns out I really didn’t burn anything to it. :P


Here are some other sites to look at for more information: - Pretty much the best place to get information on CD/DVD media. If the articles aren’t enough, there’s the forum as well.

DVD FAQ - Everything you need to know about the DVD: history, technical, etc. - Another large community based on burning and creating DVDs.

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Added on Jan 02, 2009 | Last Updated Jan 02, 2009


Blank Media says...

Aside for ImgBurn, I also recommend Nero which is one of the best programs I've used in burning CD's and DVD's.

Eric says...

What ink do you use in your CIS for printing on Watershield? Dye based or pigment?

pftq says...

The watershields are optimized for dye-based inks if I recall correctly (you can do a quick Google search on 'Watershield dye pigment').  Let me know if you find otherwise though. :)

Arjay says...

That’s really tnhiking out of the box. Thanks!

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