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I recently decided to follow the best practice of storing backups at a different site (a safety deposit box). I only backup up my personal data, and the zip files are in the order of 100MB. Multiple backups can fit on a DVD.

Normal DVDs are too big for my safety deposit box, so I'm considering mini-DVDs. I have a 2011 era laptop, and I know that it reads mini-DVDs -- some products I've purchased provide documentation on mini-DVDs, which I was able to read. However, I'm not sure if the drive can write on mini-DVDs (it writes fine on normal DVDs).

It use to be that disc drives had markings on their faces to show what kinds of discs they are compatible with.

  1. Are there any markings to indicate to ability to write to mini-DVDs?

  2. Alternatively, since my laptop writes to normal DVDs, can I assume that it writes to mini-DVDs?

  3. Mini-DVDs are typically described as for camcorders. Can they be used for computer data?

  4. I'm not asking for a brand in this question, so I hope it doesn't bring my post off-topic. No stores in my city carry mini-DVDs, and because I've run into counterfeit goods in online purchases, I'm trying to find a means to acquire mini-DVDs directly from the manufacturer (who typically aren't sellers online). These are commodity items which don't seem to show up in a search of the manufacturer site. What are some approaches to obtaining mini-DVDs directly from manufactures?

The manual can be found at this Toshiba site. Page 2-14 says that the laptop has a "DVD Super Multi drive" (I don't have BD). According to Tom's Hardware, this should be able to "read/write/rewrite CD's, DVD+r, DVD-r, DVD+- r, DVD+-RW, and use Dual layer DVD's". It doesn't say anything about different sizes.

The very next sentence in the manual says 'A Serial ATA interface controller is used for 12cm(4.72") and 8cm(3.15") (Tray ODD) and 12cm(4.72") (Slot ODD) CD/DVD/BD operation.' The crime of not defining the acronym ODD is committed, but I suspect it refers to optical disc drive. As was customary with laptops in the day, my built-in ODD is of the form of a slide-out tray, with a quarter of floor of the tray missing (I'm sure there's a good reason for this, but I haven't yet found it via web search). I assume that this still falls under the "tray" definition.

However, it could very well be that the SATA interface description is merely a description of an internal SATA interface or the external eSATA port. Interpretted literally, that is all that is stated. Further evidence that the passage does not refer to the physical ODD itself is the fact that it refers to possible ODDs rather than a specific ODD. In fact, I find the passage quite confusing, as it describes both an interface, an ODD, and the disc sizes supported by various ODDs. Therefore, I don't see that passage as an reliable attestation that my ODD can write to mini-DVDs.

  • Wouldn’t the manual for your laptop be the best resource to consult first? – Appleoddity Nov 3 '18 at 22:42
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    You might find it more convenient to store data on flash media, such as XD card or USB drive, than a writable DVD. Each has pros and cons, but one concern on writable disks is fading with time. See clir.org/pubs/reports/pub121/sec4 and ricksdailytips.com/how-long-will-flash-drive-retain-data – DrMoishe Pippik Nov 4 '18 at 0:40
  • In the question, I added info found in the manual. As for USB drives, they are not passive media, so more can go wrong (quite apart from nonvolatile retention of charge). I wasn't really considering actual material retention properties because it's such a complex question. – user2153235 Nov 5 '18 at 0:17
  • Another reason I use discs is that I originally wrote only 1 backup per disc to avoid the risk of multiple backups being taken out by one disc failure. That would require too many USB drives. But I find I'm accumulating too many discs, so I may go with a suggestion elsewhere to alternate successive backups between two discs. That strategy would also makes the alternative of using USB drive more practical. – user2153235 Nov 5 '18 at 0:17
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Mini DVD/CDs are no different than full size ones, they just hold less. All DVD/CD writers can use them. When you open your optical drive tray there are two circles pressed into the tray. One is for the the full size media and the smaller one is for mini-sized media. You can see the circles in the image of the tray below. enter image description here

  • Not quite. the slot-loading ones (iMac, some laptops, etc) can't do the mini disks or have difficulties using them. – ivanivan Nov 4 '18 at 0:31
  • @ivanivan there are always exceptions. No point in listing every one. – Keltari Nov 4 '18 at 0:40
  • As with most laptop ODDs, the floor of the tray does not have separate 12cm and 8cm circular depressions to indicate that both sizes of discs are accepted. As might be gathered from the question, however, the depressions don't matter so much because I know that the ODD reads mini-DVDs. Based on the answers thus far, I am now confident enough to order a spindle of mini-DVDs. However, I may go with the suggestion made elsewhere to alternate successive backups between two USB drives. – user2153235 Nov 5 '18 at 0:30
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The only difference between regular and 'mini' CDs or DVDs is their size (diameter as well as data capacity) – their structure is otherwise exactly the same. This means that they can also store the same kinds of data.

(For that matter, as far as I know, there's nothing special about camcorder DVDs anyway; they're just video DVDs and those use the same structure as a data DVD – just an UDF filesystem with .vob files. They don't require a different writing mode the way audio CDs do.)

As long as the drive can hold the smaller discs physically (i.e. has a proper tray and isn't a slot-loading drive), and because you've already determined that it can successfully read from them, then it should be able to write to them without problems.

  • Thank you, grawity. I feel more comfortable acquiring a spindle of mini-DVDs now. Based on suggestions, however, I may follow the suggestion of alternating successive backups between two USB drives instead. – user2153235 Nov 5 '18 at 0:28

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