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Re: [AV Media Matters] CD labels and inks

Since I was the one who came out in favour of labels, perhaps I should
qualify my comments a little.

The original enquiry about this subject referred to the 'archiving' of
server files and incremental backups.  As such, I would assume that the
expected life requirement would, at most, be limited to a few years -
probably a lot less.  CD's we burn are probably expected to last a little
longer than that by our clients, but we are still not really into 'proper'
archival storage, as would be understood by many here.

One thing is for certain - a box of unmarked discs is a disaster waiting to
happen :-)

Appreciating Grraham's comments about the problems of *removing* labels, I
don't really think this is the issue in this case.  These labels are not
required to be removed.  In fact, quite the reverse, as they constitute the
only information about the contents of the disc.  No one would seriously
propose the removal of the original manufacturers label on a record.  Of
course, other labels which might be attached on top of this one might be a
problem for someone at a later date :-)

I understand all the arguments regarding the potential for the adhesive to
break down the minimal protection afforded by the manufactuers to many
recordable CD's (maybe we should be concentrating our efforts in persuading
these guys to do something about *that*) and my comments were based purely
on practical experience of labeling small runs of CD-R's for a (relatively)
limited life.

We do use CD's which have a 'printable' surface on the non-playing side -
this, I hope, gives an extra degree of protection - it is not paper, but a
rough-surfaced ink layer.  In our case, they are manufactured by Samsung,
but they are not the only manufacturer to provide such a product.  That,
plus the use of labels manufactured specifically for the purpose, should
provide a level of reliability and comfort.

We have certainly never had any customer problem atrributable directly (or
even indirectly) to the use of an adhesive label.  In fact, the only
problem I recall was finding CD-R's with a 'printable surface' to which the
labels would adhere properly - some of them have too rough a finish and the
labels would detach after a couple of days.

The argument for direct printing of CD's seems a little strange to me.  The
equipment is expensive for small runs and there is no more evidence for the
benigness of direct printing than for any other means of marking.

As it happens, we also sell a transparent label, specifically designed to
protect the highly vulnerable data side of the disc.  This was developed by
an American company over a number of years and specific reference was made
to the problem of varnish being attacked by the adhesive.  Accelerated
testing over a number of years has shown these things to be as safe as can
be determined under such conditions.  I have every faith that the
responsible label manufacturers (such as, say, Avery) will have done
similar work on their own products.

Whether or not labels are a 'good thing' for true archive material, Iwould
not like to say - I guess the jury is still out on that one - but for short
to medium term use, I don't think we have a problem as long as reputable
sources are used.

For anyone still concerned, then I would suggest that a water-based ink,
felt-tip, pen be used in the transparent area *inside* the data area on the
*play* side of the disc.  That's about the safest place you could possibly
be :-)

Graeme Jaye

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