Before discovering the reality of the warning expressed in the title of this brief , but I believe important, cautionary essay, I used several different brands and types of print-and-stick-on disk labeling systems. There are many different brands of print and stick labels on the market – each with its very own (proprietary and unique) software and label sheet layouts – rendering them non-interchangeable with each other. This is where the companies that make them generate their ongoing profits – from the sale of the blank label pages that will work only with their own software. (Does this remind you of the issue of the cost of ink cartridges for your printer? It should.) The basic applications are all quite similar. They allow for the design of a personalized label which you then print on your own printer and then use the device provided with the software to apply the label to your disk.
They are all reasonably easy to use and often can be creatively employed to create beautiful labels for your disks. Most allow the use of clip-art or photos along with their own collections of designs and assorted layout options. I used them myself for years, before discovering that there was trouble in paradise.
That being said, my fundimental purpose in writing this review is to try to dissuade you from using these sticky labels at all! All of them (there is no one brand exception that I have been able to identify) will likely throw the delicate balance of the disk off – some by quite a lot. Over time, this will make many of them unreadable on your standard CD and DVD players. Also, the glue itself that is used to adhere the label to the disk causes the plastic of the disk to actually decompose and the content, subsequently, corrupted. Again, this is not something you would notice right away – but over time, the quality and overall playability of the information, pictures or videos on the disk will, in most cases, become compromised.
Simply put, while some of these labeling ‘systems’ are quite attractive, reasonably priced and alluring – they should be avoided by anyone hoping to keep their CDs and DVDs into the long-term future. There are, thankfully, several alternatives that allow for the safe personalized marking and/or labeling of your burned software.
Alternatives that will not damage your disks – either today or tomorrow, include 1) simple water-based markers, or 2) for those of you who, like myself, prefer a more professional looking identification of your disk, investing in a small ink jet or thermal printer might be worth your while. (I have a review posted of mine, The Signature Z1 by Primera – a thermal printer that I have been entirely satisfied with.) Additionally, many newer computers now come with burning drives and the necessary software to use a system patented as “LightScribe” which allows you to print directly onto the disk while it is still in your computer’s drive. To use it, however, you must use software that is LightScribe compatible. Business is always business.
In any event – eschew those stick-on labeling systems. You have worked too hard to produce your disks and don’t want them ruined by sticking extra, unbalanced weight and corrosive chemicals on them. Years from now, you (or whoever is listening to or watching what you have left behind) will appreciate it – a lot.