A DVD or CD Wallet and DVD CD album are two methods for storing optical discs. However, are these acceptable and safe methods for disc storage over many years?
The wallet or album is basically a series of sleeve pockets, usually made of a plastic material, that are bound together like the pages in the book as shown in the picture below.
A shell surrounds the sleeves which either snaps shut or contains a zipper for easy opening and closing. The exterior shell is usually plastic and can be soft and flexible or quite rigid.
The advantage of using a DVD CD wallet or DVD CD storage album includes the fact that discs from a particular project can be kept together and not accidentally separated. The discs can be easily transported in one compact package and are very portable when stored this way, with once again little risk of one disc getting separated from the rest.
When the exterior shell is good quality and very rigid then this provides excellent physical protection from outside forces for the discs stored inside. Some of these wallets or storage albums are also quite tightly sealed, which is excellent for keeping out dust and debris and helps to protect the discs from exposure to water.
However, despite the stated advantages of using CD DVD wallets for the storage of optical disc media, the main disadvantage is the use of sleeves to hold the discs. With sleeves, the disc surfaces are in contact with the sleeve and this promotes scratching of the discs as they are inserted or removed from the sleeves. Also, inserting and removing discs from sleeves often leads to fingerprint contamination of the CDs, DVDs, or Blu-rays. If the exterior shell is soft, the shell and the sleeves inside will provide minimal physical protection for the optical disc media and damage can occur. Finally, over the long term, the plastic material of the sleeve can degrade and chemically interact with the disc leading to irreversible damage and loss of the information stored on the disc.
In the image below, high quality and very stable recordable CDs are being stored in a typical disc album or wallet with sleeves. So, on one hand, the discs are very stable chemically, and a great choice for longevity. However, by using this type of storage method, the disc is susceptible to physical damage and problems as stated above. This can offset the advantages of using a very stable and long lasting disc media.
In conclusion, although storage wallets and albums offer some advantages for the storage of CDs and DVDs, it is best to avoid these materials if the goal is to maximize the longevity of your optical disc media collection. It is better to use the standard size jewel case in order to minimize disc damage over the long term.