Ecma International Home
contact us
What is Ecma Activities News Standards


Ecma publishes new Standard on Test Method for the Estimation of Lifetime of Optical Media for Long-term Data Storage

Single Standard provides single method for both CD and DVD storage lifetime estimation


Geneva, Switzerland, 2 March 2011

Ecma International has published on their public website for unrestricted download a standard with the aim of providing the test method for single storage lifetime estimation at ambient storage conditions for both CDs and DVDs:

ECMA-396 1st edition - Test Method for the Estimation of Lifetime of Optical Media for Long-term Data Storage.

The problem is well known. More and more data is produced with long-term preservation needs, such as business data, documents, music, photos, films etc. that has to be kept for future use on archival media, such as CDs and DVDs. However, after several years of storage under different conditions one may find with horror that this archival data cannot be read any more and becomes useless. Unfortunately there are cases when the optical storage medium chosen is not designed for long-term preservation use, and the storage lifetime is much shorter than expected.

Is there a way to estimate in advance the storage lifetime of optical media? Yes, there is. There are standardized methods that allow lifetime estimation of optical media. For example Ecma International has a successful standard ECMA-379 (also approved as ISO/IEC 10995), however this standard only allows for the storage lifetime estimation of DVD discs. Very often, however, the requirement is much broader, one wants to use a single method for the storage lifetime estimation of both CD and DVD. ECMA-396 fulfills that need. The new standard contains an intelligent combination of the measuring points from the ECMA-379 (ISO/IEC 10995) and ISO 18927 standards and a new data analysis method for lifetime estimation. This new standard has been developed by Ecma International in cooperation with JWG 1 established under JTC 1/SC 23 (members: SC 23, ISO/TC 42 and TC 171).

In order to achieve the fastest adoption and publication of this new standard first, the Ecma General Assembly has approved this standard at its December 2010 meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. The subsequent approval of this standard in ISO/IEC JTC 1 is underway.

Dr. Paul Weijenbergh, Chair of Ecma TC31 said: "We are happy that the estimated storage lifetime of all CD and all DVD discs can now be measured with the same equipment and one single standard.

About Ecma International

Since its inception in 1961, Ecma International (Ecma) has developed standards for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Consumer Electronics (CE). Ecma is a non-profit industry association of technology developers, vendors and users. Experts from industry and other organizations work together at Ecma to develop standards. Ecma submits its work for approval as ISO, IEC, ISO/IEC JTC 1 and ETSI standards and is a frequent practitioner of “fast-tracking” of specifications through the standardization process in international standards organizations. Download ECMA-396 or any other publication free of charge from the Ecma International website.

For more information: please contact Dr. Istvan Sebestyen, Secretary General of Ecma International. Email: