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CD and DVD Duplication: Do It Yourself or Use a Service?

When music, photo collections, movies, software, catalogs, or presentations for trade shows need to be distributed on CDs or DVDs, is it more cost effective to use a duplication service or to do it in-house?

The answer depends how many discs are needed, how quickly they are required, the type and quality of labeling and packaging desired, whether existing computer and human resources are available internally, and how frequently CD DVD duplication projects are expected to occur.

CD DVD Duplication: Fewer than 50 Discs

Self Serve Option
Most personal computers in use today have the ability to write or burn data to CDs and DVDs. Depending on the speed of the CD or DVD drive and the file size of the source data, it can take anywhere from several seconds to an hour or more to copy the information from the source drive to the new disc.

Many newer computers include LightScribe technology which enables direct disc labeling when used with LightScribe enabled discs (which often cost slightly more than regular writable CDs and DVDs). The newly burned disc is placed upside down in the CD or DVD drive, and the label is then laser etched into the specially coated surface of the disc which is available in a variety of colors. The result is a professional-looking label which can contain text and even original artwork.

So, when very small numbers of discs need to be made, and time is not critical, it is feasible simply to create them, one at a time, on a personal computer.

DVD Duplication Service Option
It is also possible to order multiple copies of some types of content, usually photo collections and non-copyrighted music and videos, from online and brick and mortar photo processing or retail duplication services, usually for between ten and twenty dollars per disc. Neither of the options described above is practical for ongoing business needs, although both may serve for one-off projects.

CD DVD Duplication: 50 to 500 discs

Self Serve Option
Dedicated disc duplication devices are available for purchase and may be a good choice for companies that have ongoing needs to duplicate discs in short runs. The price of disc duplicators is primarily determined by the number of burners and burner speed, with bigger and faster being more expensive. When preparing a cost/benefit comparison between in-house and DVD duplication services, factor in the cost of discs and related supplies including jewel cases or paper jackets, depreciation, maintenance, obsolescence due to changes in technology, and labor.

DVD Duplication Service Options
Commercial duplication services usually have minimum quantities at which their pricing begins, often at as few as 50 discs. Expect to get volume discounts. Besides good pricing, DVD duplication services offer:

  • Fast turnaround--often in 24 hours
  • Ability to duplicate to multiple formats including DVD, CD and Flash memory devices
  • Special services including serial numbering key coding
  • Choices for disc labeling including silk screening, laser etching, and thermal and offset printing
  • Full range of packaging including jewel cases, vinyl and paper sleeves, single and multi-fold inserts, and mailing jackets

CD DVD duplication: Quantities over 500 discs
Pricing is so competitive on duplication of 1000 or more DVDs that it does not make sense to perform this work internally unless disc duplication is to become a core competence or a profit center.

International Disc Duplicating Association

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