DVD Care and Handling
DVDs may be more delicate than they look, but it doesnt take much to prevent problems. Its a good idea to store them vertically in their original packaging whenever possible. Some DVD cases support a disc only at the hub, allowing it to sag at the edges when stored flat for long periods of time or at out-of-spec temperatures. Any resulting deformation will be slight, but it doesnt take much to unbalance a high-speed DVD drive.
Never store DVDs in CD jewel cases, which may apply too much hub stress. DVD-approved jewel cases, designed to reduce hub pressure, can be differentiated from CD versions by an embossed DVD logo on the tray insert.
Poorly conceived packaging can contribute to problems that make DVDs unplayable. Some off-brand cases require excessive force even when you use the correct procedure to remove a disc, while others release discs too easily, allowing mail-order DVDs to bang around the case for days while in transit.
Well-made cases, such as Amarays DVD-Safe clamshell models (www.amaray.com/products_dvd.asp
), grip a disc securely in a stress-free locking hub while allowing it to rotate freely. Attempting to pry a disc out of the case without unlocking the hub can result in over-flexing the disc, delamination, and even hub cracks. The rosette in the center of the case must be gently pressed until the disc pops free, letting you lift it effortlessly by its edges.
Even with better-quality jewel cases, its not hard for a disc to pop off its hub and get scratched in the case. To prevent this, line your jewel cases with soft adhesive pads sold by companies such as Azuradisc (www.azuradisc.com
). But dont panic if the surface of your disc does sustain some damage. Fine scratches can be removed with specialty formulations like Novus Plastic Polish (www.novuspolish.com
) or by carefully polishing the surface with white toothpaste and a soft cloth. In extreme cases, a professional disc-polishing device like those made by Azuradisc can restore discs that would otherwise be impossible to salvage.
Avoid storing discs in paper or cardboard sleeves. Paper can leave tiny surface scratches when you insert or remove the disc. If you must use sleeves, choose those made of soft woven material like DuPonts Tyvek.
When you store discs in binders, dont load each volume with so many pages that the platters are under potentially deforming pressure. Use binder pages lined with a woven material, not with paper or cardboard. Its especially important when using binders to be sure that no debris is trapped against the data surface of a stored disc.
Adverse environmental conditions can greatly shorten the life of a disc. Avoid extremes and rapid changes in temperature or humidity, and never leave a disc in direct sunlight. Try to maintain an ambient temperature of between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the humidity within a 20 to 50 percent range.
Never apply adhesive labels to a DVD. Although paper labels are okay for CDs, it takes far more precision to read a DVDs much denser data. Even a slightly off-axis label can create unstable playback conditions. The best way to label a disc is to print directly onto it with a disc printer like the Primera Bravo II Disc Publisher or any of the Epson Stylus Photo R200/R300/R800 line ($99, $179, and $399 direct).
Recordable and rewritable DVD media have their own handling requirements. Their recordable surfaces should never be exposed to bright sunlight, and you should avoid breaking their shrink wrap before youre ready to use them.