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2006-02-14 - On the robustness of DVDs

I burned a bad DVD today (used wrong mkisofs options and so didn't get the necessary Rock Ridge extensions). So after re-burning a correct one I set about destroying the data on the old one. It's sensitive and encrypted data.

I scored the top of the DVD several times with a kitchen knife. In the past that has destroyed some CDRs because it removes the reflective layer needed for the reader to get at the data. This process didn't harm this DVD; all the files are still readable with no I/O errors. Even though I can see through the scratches.

In Stage 2 I rubbed steel wool all over the underside. That wasn't sufficient. I can still read some files without errors, although it is definitely unable to read the bigger files.

In Stage 3 I tried to snap the DVD into two pieces. Unfortunately it is very flexible. I bent the surface 180 degrees and it didn't snap, in fact it looks totally unscathed by that maltreatment. Next I held it over an open flame, with only minimal damage apparent. It seems today's DVDs are virtually indestructible.