In Memoriam: When DVDs become coasters

Dai

Hunter
All is ephemeral. From dust we came, to dust we return: it's true of people, nations, and optical media. This thread is for you to lament your tales of the tapes the VCR chewed up, the LPs that were scratched by the stylus, the comics that become water-logged, and the DVDs that decided to explore a new career as a coaster.

This line of thought was prompted last night when my DVD of Witch Hunter Robin vol. 2 embraced the teachings of the heart sutra--form is emptiness, and emptiness form. To the naked eye it looks pristine; it's just decided to stop being a DVD. I've tested it a dozen times on two BD players to no avail. The DB drive in my PC did manage to at least open the folder list on one occasion, but didn't show the VIDEO_TS folder, which probably means game over since I can't even rip the files.

This is the scary thing about optical discs; you can keep them boxed in flawless condition, and after a couple of decades they just give up anyway. I don't know if it's the layers separating, oxidation, or the plastic trying to return to a liquid state, but so it goes. Ironically, vol. 6 was scratched to hell in transit when I first bought it, but that one still works (for now).

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So now I'm left with the annoying problem of replacing a middle volume of a TV series where all the single releases are out of print. It looks like there are three options:
1) At first glance, the European Beez release looks like the cheapest option, since I can see some copies of vol. 2 floating around for about £5. Unfortunately, I have the old Bandai US release, which divided up episodes differently between volumes, so I'd actually need both vols. 2 and 3 of the Beez release. Vol. 3 seems to go for £100, naturally.
2) I could try to import a used copy of the OOP Bandai release from the US, but that disc would be as old as the one that's given up the ghost, and US eBay sellers often charge a fortune for postage.
3) I see that the series was licence-rescued by Funimation and re-released in 2018. It's DVD-only though, so it won't be an upgrade, and it means buying the whole series again for the sake of four episodes. Also, the Funimation release is on 4 discs compared to the Bandai release's 6, so I don't know if the picture quality is worse.

Basically, grrrrr.

Here's the tombstone generator, if anyone wants to use it: Custom Tombstone Maker
 

Geriatric hedgehog

Magical Girl
This is the scary thing about optical discs; you can keep them boxed in flawless condition, and after a couple of decades they just give up anyway.
That is a very worrying story, does that mean we should be creating digital backups for all our collections?? Would probably make a full time job for someone going around households doing it for everyone, with an annual service to back up your back ups. Hmmm future business idea...

But on a serious note, is there a way of quantifying, or any known estimates of percentage of discs losing data?
 

IdiomaticLynx

Student Council President
But on a serious note, is there a way of quantifying, or any known estimates of percentage of discs losing data?
Not sure, it feels like it just happens, so even if a disc is still good today, give it another 5 or 10 years and it might've died as well. But from what I understood Blu-rays are less effected due to additional coating, though most likely not immune. There's something creepy about not knowing which discs in your collection might've died a silent death. 😨

Luckily I've never had a terrible fate befall anything I really cared about, mostly some old CDs or DVDs that I then simply toss out or keep in their box with a note stating it's defect. Honestly the worst that has happened is an artbox that started to peel and become warped/bubbly, but I've since replaced it with a different copy (luckily I could still obtain one). I'm knocking on wood here.
 
Damn! I was thinking of starting this thread a few days ago. All media is ephemeral, and given I take years between revisiting them, I do get some unwelcome surprises.

Foxed paper and bookworm on some of my books.
Dropouts on VHS and audio tapes.
Disc rot...

I have one Telstar CD that has pinholes in the reflective layer; it still plays though.
The dual disc Phantom Menace soundtrack was pressed on DVD media, and it has delaminated. I have to wash the sticky residue off each time I play it.

speaking of which, I had that problem with the original Terminator DVD, and Sleepy Hollow.

DVDs also suffer from a less obvious, residue free delamination, where the data layer just degrades after the layer change. I went through three copies of The X Files Season 2 before getting the Blu-Ray because the same disc kept failing. Also, a couple of HKL discs died on me, The Iceman Cometh, and Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin, which is worrying as they were manufactured by VDC, who made most UK anime DVDs once upon a time.

As for anime, I’ve only had that problem with Bandai’s Escaflowne, and wound up getting a Beez disc as a replacement.

And now the most worrying bit... anime BDs.

Beez’ Sword of the Stranger died, oxidation I guess. It looks like digital banding on the surface layer, the outside of the disc turning a darker bronze than the warm gold that it should be, and the disc freezing and skipping after the layer change. Luckily Anime Limited re-released it.

MVM’s Girls Und Panzer first release 2014 had a different kind of oxidation, a patch on the surface layer just lost the gold dye. It looks like a solar eclipse, a shadow on the disc, and it skips and freezes at that point. Luckily that’s easier to replace, and with a new pressing. The original release has white Region Code logos on the discs, the newest release has coloured.

I think I’ve seen a another disc with the same issue, but I don’t want to borrow trouble until I’ve watched it. I’ll add to this thread if the bottom does fall out of my world, as I don’t think I can replace that one.

EDIT: Just remembered Soul Eater which I imported from Australia years before the UK release. The package got Royal Mauled, and disc 5 was scratched. The scratch must have breached the protective layer, as while the disc played fine the first time, the next time I watched it six years on, the disc froze at that point. It was a hair line scratch too, standard on most DVDs, but fatal to the BD. Again it was easy to replace.
 
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ayase

State Alchemist
Thankfully I'm yet to have this experience but if and when I do (and it's probably just a matter of time) I won't personally feel any qualms about just torrenting replacement files. If I have the box and original disc to satisfy my collector's impulses and I paid for it once supporting the creators, then I don't think it's unreasonable to allow myself continued access to the content of said discs.
 

Dai

Hunter
That is a very worrying story, does that mean we should be creating digital backups for all our collections?? Would probably make a full time job for someone going around households doing it for everyone, with an annual service to back up your back ups. Hmmm future business idea...

But on a serious note, is there a way of quantifying, or any known estimates of percentage of discs losing data?
It's impossible to know, unfortunately. If you rule out obsolete early formats, the oldest optical media are only about 40 years old, so manufacturers claiming 30-100 year lifespans for discs are only extrapolating from lab-based stress tests. In real world conditions a combination of materials quality, manufacturing flaws, and storage conditions make every disc a unique case.

The other drawback of optical discs is their digital nature. A sector is either valid or corrupt: if the hardware can't validate a checksum, then that's all she wrote. In the case of the DVD I mentioned before, it seems to be the table of contents sector that's corrupted, which renders the disc unreadable even if the videos files are still valid. For all their flaws, VCRs would at least attempt to run damaged media; it wasn't all or nothing.

As for backing up discs, it's the obvious solution, but then you have to consider that hard drives often have shorter operating lives than factory-pressed optical discs, so you have to keep moving them to new drives over time.
 
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awadama fever

Za Warudo
Yesterday, I tried watching a WWE DVD that I bought about 15 ago, but never got around to watching. Totally dead. It’s having none of it.

I don’t know if it’s suddenly given up (I can kind of relate) or if it was just defective to start with (again, I can sympathise). I don’t have a PC with a disc drive I can try it on, so it looks like it’s just destined for the bin.

eBay is full of used copies, but literally any time I buy used wrestling DVDs, the state of them is awful. I think a lot of wrestling fans actually wrestle with the DVDs (and smear questionable substances on them too).

The only sealed copy available is a UMD, but I’m really really not that desperate!
 

Dai

Hunter
Yesterday, I tried watching a WWE DVD that I bought about 15 ago, but never got around to watching. Totally dead. It’s having none of it.

I don’t know if it’s suddenly given up (I can kind of relate) or if it was just defective to start with (again, I can sympathise). I don’t have a PC with a disc drive I can try it on, so it looks like it’s just destined for the bin.

eBay is full of used copies, but literally any time I buy used wrestling DVDs, the state of them is awful. I think a lot of wrestling fans actually wrestle with the DVDs (and smear questionable substances on them too).

The only sealed copy available is a UMD, but I’m really really not that desperate!
It's always best to test a disc on at least two devices before giving up on it, since drive heads can vary so much in quality. I've had two copies of the Giant Robo DVDs that both froze in the same places on the final couple of episodes on my old Samsung DVD player, but work just fine on every player I've had since.
 

Dai

Hunter
I've always been suspicious of disc repair fluid, since it's made things worse the few times I tried it, but I figured I had nothing to lose from using it on this Witch Hunter Robin DVD, even though I couldn't see any scratches. So, starting with a visually flawless disc surface, I applied the repair fluid, wiped it with the 'repair' cloth that might as well have been a Brillo pad and proceded to scratch the hell out of every inch of the surface. After letting the sticky gunk dry as directed, I wiped it off and polished it with the disc 'cleaning' fluid, which resulted in a finish that I can only describe as looking like it had been immersed in a deep fat fryer. And it still doesn't work.

Who the hell designed these disc repair kits?
 

Geriatric hedgehog

Magical Girl
This thread has me filled with dread about revisiting my dvd collection. Also though I'd generally buy blu rays, I wasn't averse to getting dvds.... Until now that is!
 

CommanderZx2

Great Teacher
If you're concerned about discs failing you could back them up using something like makemkv, but of course you will need a compatible optical drive to access it on your PC and the space to store it. Getting external storage is fairly cheap now a days, so could easily store many BDs in digital form if you want to back them up.
 

Geriatric hedgehog

Magical Girl
If you're concerned about discs failing you could back them up using something like makemkv, but of course you will need a compatible optical drive to access it on your PC and the space to store it. Getting external storage is fairly cheap now a days, so could easily store many BDs in digital form if you want to back them up.
Yeah I was considering that for some of my series but I know I'm too lazy for that given that I have probably 6 years of just mobile photos to back up to my desktop...
 
Way back when, I had a pretty big VHS collection. Hundreds of tapes, home recordings and retail. When DVD came about, I replaced most of the films with discs, but there were still over a hundred or so tapes that either I couldn’t find on DVD or didn’t want to spend that much money on.

So I bought a combo unit, VHS/PVR/DVD writer. It took me over a year to copy and edit those tapes and record them onto DVD-R. I wound up with a couple hundred discs (4 hour tapes need 2 DVDs each) and carefully organised them into folders.

In the last fifteen years I’ve watched maybe four of those discs...

I now have thousands of BDs and DVDs! Backing those up would take a lifetime (I don’t have the free time any more), I’d need thousands of pounds of storage, which itself would need to be backed up, and there’s every likelihood that I would never watch them either.

I really should pull out those Animaniacs DVDrs for a rewatch...
 

Dai

Hunter
I now have thousands of BDs and DVDs! Backing those up would take a lifetime (I don’t have the free time any more), I’d need thousands of pounds of storage, which itself would need to be backed up, and there’s every likelihood that I would never watch them either.
I'm in the same situation. I haven't even started that process, but I think a triage approach would be the way to go. Consider which discs are oldest, and which would be most costly (or impossible) to replace. There's no point backing up Hollywood blockbusters or popular western TV series, since box sets of those will only get cheaper over time unless its a cult show.

As for the cost of storage, it depends on how many DVDs you have versus BDs. A few thousand DVD-quality anime episodes would fit on a 4TB external hard drive that costs less than £100, or probably ten thousand episodes if you re-encoded the files into mp4.
 
I'm in the same situation. I haven't even started that process, but I think a triage approach would be the way to go. Consider which discs are oldest, and which would be most costly (or impossible) to replace. There's no point backing up Hollywood blockbusters or popular western TV series, since box sets of those will only get cheaper over time unless its a cult show.

I wouldn’t have given mainstream releases a second thought either until Disney bought out Fox, and started letting the Fox catalogue go out of print. Try finding The X Files now. Their profits are in streaming not physical, especially where they can continue to own the content and the medium. They can’t revise historically ‘inappropriate’ content to protect audience sensibilities if it’s on a disc on someone’s shelf.
 

Dai

Hunter
I wouldn’t have given mainstream releases a second thought either until Disney bought out Fox, and started letting the Fox catalogue go out of print. Try finding The X Files now. Their profits are in streaming not physical, especially where they can continue to own the content and the medium. They can’t revise historically ‘inappropriate’ content to protect audience sensibilities if it’s on a disc on someone’s shelf.
Ah yes, I forgot to factor in Unicron, even though I hurriedly made a list of Fox blu-rays I might want to panic-buy back when Disney swallowed them up. Great, now I have to decide if I want to buy Cronenberg's The Fly, even though that movie traumatises me every time I watch it.
 
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