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Everlasting M-Discs from Verbatim 

Millenial discs (M-Discs) are claimed to have a life of 1,000 years. While we cannot actually put this to the test, these discs from Verbatim provide a reliable means of storing all those irreplaceable photos and documents as well as a vast music collection.

click image to enlarge

Described as Lifetime Archival, M-Discs are write-once optical discs which are essentially special, more durable forms of DVD or Blu-ray discs. Their 4X write speed, which is less than the 16X of DVDs, is no doubt because the data has to be “engraved” into a base layer rather than just manipulating the dye layer as is done in the normal DVDs. As there is no dye layer, in the case of the ordinary discs but not the ink-jet printable ones, one can actually see right through the disc.

A compatible drive is required to write to M-Discs rather than an ordinary DVD writer. However, the M-Disc Blu-Ray has been designed to work with all Blu-ray drives and to fit within the Blu-ray standard specs. Nevertheless, it makes sense to check to confirm that one has an “M-Disc ready” drive as there is a note on the mdisc.com web site that “Our testing indicates that it will work in over 80% of Blu-ray drives made after about 2011”.

As my internal DVD drive was not M-Disc ready I used the Freecom 56348 Slimline External DVD RW Drive which is USB2.0 compatible. Priced at £39.99 but available on Amazon for £36.46, this is relatively small being 135 x 140 x 16mm in size and weighing 250g. It is supplied with a special cable with two USB plugs at one end for connecting to the computer. According to Freecom even though the latest notebooks will provide enough power through the USB port, and will only need to use one connector, some of the older generation machines don’t provide adequate power so, for this reason, “we have bundled this cable so that the customer has a working solution”. (Incidentally, Freecom has already launched its 56235 Mobile Blu-ray rewriter USB 3.0 which should meet all needs.)

Although the DVD drive comes supplied with Nero Essentials it, and the M-Discs themselves, will work with any appropriate burning software. Hence, if you already have suitable software on your machine there is no benefit in changing because, in essence, M-Discs are just like ordinary DVDs and Blu-ray that provide exceptional longevity. Just compare this life expectancy with hard discs which often come with a 2 year “limited warranty” and even for maximum performance drives it might be 5 years. Similarly, ordinary CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs and other storage media cannot be expected to have an unlimited life and so may be “dead” when you actually need them.

It is obvious that I cannot verify this claim for longevity. The clam is, however, backed up by audited lifetime tests to ISO/IEC 10995 (Information technology -- digitally recorded media for information interchange and storage -- Test method for the estimation of the archival lifetime of optical media).

As must be appreciated, this performance comes at a price. Currently, the price of a blank DVD M-Disc is about £3.50 while a Blu-ray one is somewhat dearer. But are they worth it and can you justify the cost in view of the fact that both ordinary blank DVDs and Blu-ray discs are far cheaper and you may also have to buy an M-Disc compatible drive if you don’t have a suitable drive? The real question you have to ask yourself is whether you have photos, documents or other files which you cannot afford to lose. If so, you need to take a very serious look at Verbatim M-Discs for your own long-term peace of mind and data security.

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