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.
ECMA's standards offer a way to estimate in advance the storage lifetime of optical media. For example Ecma International has a 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).