[*Originally, I used the word “exciting” to describe the test. Then I realized I’m probably the only one to actually get excited about it. On the other hand, it is objectively important.]
The Optical Disc Archival Test Standard allows you, the consumer to judge the long-term stability of any given DVD brand. As I’ve mentioned over and over and over and over — the term “archival” is unregulated and therefore meaningless. Passing an accelerated aging test, while not a perfect predictor of how long media will last, is the best tool we have to decide which product to buy.
Test Method for the Estimation of the Archival Lifetime of Optical Media
This Ecma Standard specifies an accelerated aging test method for estimating the life expectancy for the retrievability of information stored on recordable or rewritable optical disks.
Please note: This test does not cover every possible source of damage — only the effects of temperature and humidity. However, it’s better than what we’ve got right now (which is basically bupkiss).
It does not attempt to model degradation due to complex failure mechanism kinetics, nor does it test for exposure to light, corrosive gases, contaminants, handling, and variations in playback subsystems. Disks exposed to these additional sources of stress or higher levels of T and RH are expected to experience shorter usable lifetimes.