Labeling DVDs for archiving

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    • #132534

      I am looking for a solution for labeling directly onto DVDs for archiving purposes. Our collection of oral histories is currently kept on DVD, on cassette,  and electronically on a server and on a separate hard drive. We also keep two copies of the DVDs for public use.  Currently, I am labeling on the DVDs with a Sharpie, and my head archivist is not happy with this solution. So we have decided to create an archived copy with labeling only on the case, not on the DVD. But I want to keep some sort of labeling on the DVD itself for the public copies. I fear the day when the DVD gets separated from the case. Making new DVD copies is not a problem, since we have a high speed copier (best investment ever.) Any ideas?

    • #132542

      You can buy foil back CD / DVD labels from Gaylord for that purpose, or you can use an archival pen to mark directly onto the disk.

    • #132541
      Fletcher Durant

      If you do end up using a felt-tipped pen, the American Institute for Conservation’s Electronic Media Group sells pens for marking optical media on their website:

    • #132540
      Katherine Collett

      My understanding is that using any kind of adhesive (such as on a label) dramatically shortens the life of the DVD.  Water-based or other archivally safe pens (not Sharpies) are good.

    • #132539

      If you do apply labels, research the type of adhesive used.  Some are less “archival” than others.  Another consideration re: labels is that many of these can cause problems for DVD players.  The labels s/b as thin and light as possible and very carefully centered.  We recently switched from writing on our circulating DVDs (hard to read, hard to keep ink away from the readable sections) to thin labels similar to Gaylord’s polypropylene labels w/acid free adhesive (  So far we haven’t had any problems or complaints.  We get them from a different vendor because we want the barcode system to match the ones we use on other items.

    • #132538

      This as nothing to do with your question, but please consider that the DVD’s life is sometimes under 4-5 years even without use.


    • #132537
      Clifton Patrick

      Speaking from bad experiences, I refuse to insert any optical with an attached paper label into any of our drives!

      We print labeling directly on the media with inject printers on printable media including “Ultra Hydroshield” media from Disc Makers . No issues, so far and the public likes the look and water resistant labels. A few examples attached.

    • #132536

      Thank you for all the great suggestions. Mauro: the DVDs are only one method of long-term storage we are using. They are, however, the most user-friendly for our researchers, so keeping them in good shape but still identifiable is critical for daily use. I am investigating purchasing gold-based DVDs for our archive copies, but keeping the regular DVDs for public use. The manufacturer of the gold-based DVDs contends that his product is good for 100 years. Guess he figures neither he or his clients will be around to face the inevitable lawsuits.


    • #132535

      Indeed, manufacturers mix the “longuest duration possible in the best conditions possible” with their “average life product”… If gold/silver CD/DVD layers seems to be essential for a long term storage, this metal presence is not a guarranty of well construction and long life, and we see sometimes products with a bad polycarbonate layer of a lack of construction quality wich their lifespan is really short even if their are “high quality products”.


      Once again, climate control seems to be a must, added to a periodic inspection. Using regular DVDs for public use is a good way to employ them until their death.


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