macOS, Reviews

Verbatim and the M-DISC 100GB BDXL

Verbatim is the only manufacturer of optical media that makes dependable media. Even as they’re well over a decade old, their Archival Grade recordable DVDs and their recordable Blu-ray discs can still be burned and read without a glitch. I tested their M-DISC Blu-Ray disc that can hold a whopping 100GB.

Verbatim media has always been my favourite brand of optical media. There is not a DVD or Blu-Ray burner in the world that has problems with Verbatim’s discs, whereas other brands, including more expensive ones like Kodak, have caused random problems. Verbatim is also the company that is now making the famous M-DISC media. M-DISC is optical media that has been claimed to survive for 1000 years.

You and I will probably be dead in a thousand years and nobody will blame us if we doubt that next millennium-man will use DVD or Bu-Ray discs to store important data, but it’s kind of reassuring to know that an M-DISC isn’t as delicate as a common DVD or Blu-Ray. Personally, I still occasionally pluck data off Archival Grade quality Verbatim DVDs dating back twelve years with no problem at all, but some discs have indeed gone southwards during that period.

M-DISC is said to be immune to data rot, but it depends on how you define that term. To some, data rot isn’t just the media that’s no longer readable by current devices, but also by future devices. Nevertheless, M-DISC technology has much stronger barriers against data loss than traditional optical media.

Ordinary recordable optical media has data burned by a laser into an organic dye layer. This type of layer is known to degrade and fade once it has been written to. The reliable shelf life of a standard recordable DVD is somewhere between two and five years, although most of my discs are still perfectly writable and readable after 12 years — admittedly, I have stored them in a dark place and upright.

Nevertheless, the M-DISC promises to be better as it contains no organic dyes. Instead, an M-DISC’s data layer is composed of “rock-like materials known to last for centuries” 1. To burn an M-DISC, you must use an “M-DISC READY” drive, which uses a high-powered laser that is capable of etching the M-DISC’s surface. The OWC Mercury Pro optical drive that I’m going to be reviewing in a couple of days or weeks, is such a drive.

I tested the Verbatim M-DISC Blue-Ray BDXL (100GB on one disc!) using the OWC Mercury Pro and it ran as expected. Toast Titanium 15.1 performed without a glitch, sending a data stream to the M-DISC of between 2x and 6x speed. The Verbatim BDXL M-DISC is rated for 4x speed. After about two hours, the disc had been written to with 87GB of data successfully.

Now, if M-DISC lives up to its promise, I expect to be back with you from the other side of the grave in 50 years time to report that I am still able to read that M-DISC without any problems at all. I hope that those of us who rely on cloud storage and magnetic media exclusively will be able to say the same.

Verbatim’s M-DISC NDXL 100GB costs around €12 if you buy them one disc at a time.

  1. Quote from Millenniata, the inventors of M-DISC.