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The Myth Of The 100-Year CD-Rom

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the bits-and-bytes-for-the-baby's-baby's-baby dept.

Data Storage 671

Toshito writes "Are we putting too much faith in the ubiquitous "recordable CD", or CD-R? A lot of manufacturer claims 100 years of shelf life for a CD-R. But in real life, it can be much less. Expect failure after only 5 years... Personnaly I just discovered 6 audio cassettes with the voice of my late grandfather, talking about old times. These tapes are copies of reel to reel recorded in 1971, and they are still in excellent shape. I was thinking about digitizing everything, do a little noise reduction, and burning this on CD's, for my childrens and great grand-childrens enjoyment, but it seems that old analog tech from the '70 is more reliable than digital. The full story at Rense. Other links about the subject: Practical PC, Mscience, and an excellent reasearch by the Library of Congress (warning! PDF): Study of CD longevity, html version (google):Study html."

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671 comments

Nonsense! (5, Interesting)

Kris Thalamus (555841) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940704)

I was thinking about digitizing everything, do a little noise reduction, and burning this on CD's, for my childrens and great grand-childrens enjoyment, but it seems that old analog tech from the '70 is more reliable than digital.

Record it to your HDD in an non-lossy format and store copies of it on various friends' and family members' computers. Back up frequently and your recordings won't suffer from the kind of decay and generation loss that analog tape does.

Re:Nonsense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940762)

You can always store it on CD. Its digital. Just copy it in 4 years to either whatever is new or another CD-R.

Re:Nonsense! (5, Informative)

cuzality (696718) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940772)

Well, the recordings *will* go through decay, but that's what the constant backing-up process is about. Your basic point is right on the money, though.

The only way to keep bits in any kind of order and in good condition over a long period of time with the kind of technology available to the average consumer is to keep making multiple fresh copies before each individual storage media begins to suffer loss of data.

Re:Nonsense! (5, Funny)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940831)

What happens when the amount time it takes to transfer all the data from one medium to another is longer than the life time of the media on which it currently resides?

Re:Nonsense! (1)

AKnightCowboy (608632) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940911)

What happens when the amount time it takes to transfer all the data from one medium to another is longer than the life time of the media on which it currently resides?

It's probably time to start re-evaluating that decision to use quantum computing. What the hell kind of media are you going to use that it takes 5 years to transfer your data to? By another drive, or two, or three.

Re:Nonsense! (1)

grouchyDude (322842) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940816)

Since each successive machine I purchase has much more disk space, I keep my most valuable files on line. As I upgrade, in addition no "normal" backups , I have key archival data on my obsolete old machine(s).

Re:Nonsense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940850)

That's pretty much what I do - I copy archived files on to each new computer I get. I've got a load of word processing files and things from the late 1980s preserved that way - it's quite cool seeing prehistoric timestamps on files!

If something important is kept on multiple computers and is made part of your usual backup cycle, there's little chance of it being abandoned on an obsolete storage device or medium, and even less chance of it being lost due to disk failure. File formats can be problematic, but PCM WAV for audio should be more than reliable enough. Even if WAV support gets dropped at some point in the future (unlikely), it's easy enough to reverse-engineer...

Re:Nonsense! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940896)

Whether CDs last a long time or not is really missing the point. The benefit of going digital is that the data can be backed up.

If you're oriented on the media you're forever on the upgrade path. Should you move the collection to DVDs? But wait, blue light DVDs are right around the corner. It will never end.

120Gbyte hard disks are getting cheap. This trend will continue. What you store something on will literally become unimportant. The only important thing that will remain is still: how well is it backed up?

Re:As Linus Said (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940985)

"Real men don't use backups, they post their stuff on a public ftp server and let the rest of the world make copies." - Linus Torvalds

Would never trust my recordings to CD-R (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940712)

I agree with TOSHITO, I also trust my Adolph Hitler speeches to audio tape that was originally recorded from reel to reel from the 1930's and 1940's. The life-like quality of the Fuehrer's voice still send chills up my spine and I would not trust these treasures to a CD-R.

CD Rot (5, Interesting)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940715)

The story about the Rot of Death seems to come up every once and a while. My fun strategies for longevity:

- If you can rub the top of a CD and have your finger come back silver, that's a bad sign. I avoid cheap CD-Rs. Sorry, CompUSA.
- I burn at 2x, always, unless I am burning something that I don't care about. Someone showed me the difference in color, I was convinced.
- Sticker on top = CD death.
- Take care of your media. Had a friend who left a CD on the windowsill and forgot about it. Many months later, you could see right through it. Nice corrosion.

I find it weird that anyone can stick a 100 year lifespan on a product that hasn't been around that long. I know that they have processes that supposedly accelerate the process and give you a rough estimate, but I am skeptical. Maybe they really are that durable, and people are just careless/cheapskates. You know what they say about malice and idiocy.

Re:CD Rot (2, Interesting)

log0n (18224) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940751)

What do you mean by sticker on top? I've found that CD-Rs with labels (full labels, pressed on?) last MUCH longer than CD-Rs w/o labels. No flaking, top surface is much more resistant to scratches, etc.

In fact, thinking through my CD-R library, I can't think of any labeled CD-Rs that have ever gone bad on me. I can't say the same for labelless/stickerless?

Re:CD Rot (4, Informative)

Liselle (684663) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940837)

It's the glue. It can corrode the top layer. I've seen some stories about it, still a few floating around, seems to depend largely on which one you use. The problem may be mitigated by this point, now that they know, but I still don't trust labels over cases/sleeves. You have to get that label on really well, air bubbles being your enemy. :D

Pressed vs DIY (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940906)

He might have been referring to those DIY stickers that you print and add yourself. Those are very hard to align properly, and with some wear and tear may easily become unusable due to lack of balance.

Preprinted labels I don't see making a difference though, at least not a negative one. Aren't CD-Rs pressed in pretty much the same way as a real pressed CD, except for a writeable layer with less protective coating? I thought the top label would be pretty much identical...

Kjella

Re:CD Rot (1)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940856)

Burning at 2x or max is irrelevant, IMO. I think that statement is just a thing to make people feel more secure about media they're making :P

It might change the colors, but it has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not the CD will mysteriously decay away.

Re:CD Rot (1)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940954)

So then you must have scientific evidence to back this up then, right?

Re:CD Rot (4, Funny)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940859)

Ripping the reflective surface off CDRs is a good way to impress kids with shiny things. The only problem is, they then want to do it.

While counselor at a computer camp, once I showed a kid how to rip the reflective face off a CDR with some duct tape, and he spread that information to all the kids. Little did they know that the dye underneath is toxic, and like 7 or 8 kids were puking up their lunch later on. I told the boss I had no idea what happened. :-\

Burning at 2x... (5, Informative)

ajutla (720182) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940928)

Although it seems like burning at a slower speed means that your data lasts longer, for some newer CDs burning at 2x might actually cause your data to be less secure. Most CDs sold nowadays are optimized for faster burns, say at 48x. The "fast" media doesn't handle slow burn speeds quite as well as older media optimized for 2x would.

Or.... (1, Insightful)

tvh2k (738947) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940716)

Or just burn to multiple cd's, that way the chance they all go bad is low.

Re:Or.... (4, Insightful)

crow (16139) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940761)

But be sure to use blanks from different manufacturers. Otherwise your failures won't be independent, so the odds of all your copies going bad at roughly the same time (i.e., before you notice the first one has failed) is high.

Re:Or.... (4, Funny)

No. 24601 (657888) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940982)

But be sure to use blanks from different manufacturers. Otherwise your failures won't be independent, so the odds of all your copies going bad at roughly the same time (i.e., before you notice the first one has failed) is high.

So i guess someone was paying attention in Stats class ;)

Using RIAA math (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940719)

The 100 year CD-ROM becomes a 27 million year CD-ROM, and they plan to have their copyrights extended that far.

Solution! (5, Funny)

Morgahastu (522162) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940721)

Store them on a series of floppy diskettes. They have proven to be VERY reliable. ;)

Re:Solution! (0, Offtopic)

aslate (675607) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940758)

Out of a box full of Floppy disks i can hardly find one that works (Box must contain at least several hundred we've aquired). When you need a boot-floppy it's very annoying! They just keep skipping or giving read/write errors, damned media.

Re:Solution! (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940829)

New PCs are already coming floppy-free! They will last, but you will not have a floppy drive in 5 years.

I think that you MAY be attempting humor, but I can't be certain of this.

Re:Solution! (1)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940845)

I bet that finding a 3.5" drive in a few decades won't be a problem either.

(unlike 5.25 which were suprisingly more reliable IME)

Re:Solution! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940873)

Even better, get some nice, archival-quality acid-free paper and a high-quality printer and print out your data as a long string of 1's and 0's. Even 'betterer', have a book company print your data. Hardcover, of course. Then store the books in a nice temperature- and humidity-controlled underground vault.

Re:Solution! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940914)

I know that was meant as a joke, but last time I checked, most of my 10-15 year old Amiga floppies still worked fine. A few months ago I also started checking all my old PC floppies to see what the hell I had on them. These were mostly just crappy, knockabout disks, but only about 1 in 15 had any kind of read errors (and I was making complete rawrite-style images of the disks to store on a backup CD). All the official floppy disks for older PC software still worked perfectly.

Guess what I'm saying is that provided you take care of them and keep them stored in their boxes, out of the sun, away from your home-brew MRI machines and soforth, floppy disks aren't that bad. I've seen worse among CD-Rs...

Re:Solution! (4, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940952)

Actually, 5.25" double-density disks have been shown to theoretically last 90 years, and many of these disks have lasted 20+ years IN PRACTICE (I have some 25 year old Apple II disks that STILL work without errors to this day).

punchcards are better (4, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940981)

that's why I bought the Unreal Tournament 2004 Special Punchcard Edition.

http://img53.photobucket.com/albums/v162/Cordata /U T04-PunchCard.gif

As long as I keep them in a dark and dry place, it's going to last forever!

real story from the independent (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940726)

Ever decreasing circles [independent.co.uk]

Doooom(esday)! (5, Interesting)

llamaguy (773335) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940732)

Factor that in with the project the BBC did in the mid-1980s (A digital Domesday book, designed to be a snapshot of life at that particular moment of time) that was unreadable withing 20 years because of the fast pace of technology and no way will CDs last 100 years.

Re:Doooom(esday)! (4, Interesting)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940830)

Wasn't that because the format they recorded it on was quite obscure and they couldn't find a player to read back the data ?. That is related to this I guess but the first hurdle is to ensure the integrity of the data in the first place.

date, reburn, rinse, repeat (5, Interesting)

wren337 (182018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940744)


Blank CDs in bulk are cheap. For archival stuff I make a new copy every 5 years. I have a bunch of scanned photos I don't want to lose, so I re-copied them all onto new CDs.

You aren't supposed to write on the CDs either but I've not had any trouble with that, probably because I'm not trying to keep them very long.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940745)

but it seems that old analog tech from the '70 is more reliable than digital.

While the media itself might be seen as more reliable in this case, the means of accessing that media is a different story. No saying what will be around in another 20 years, though some sort of disc in the shape of a cdrom is probably a likely.

Eternal archiving. (5, Funny)

Guano_Jim (157555) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940746)

Rename the MP3s of your grandfather's voice to coors_twins_baby_oil.mpg and put it on Kazaa.

Repeat every year with the current cover girls of Maxim, Stuff, or whatever men's mag suits your fancy.

Guarantee you'll never be at a loss for a copy of dear old granddad.

Re:Eternal archiving. (3, Funny)

lacrymology.com (583077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940835)

Yeah but if I d/l that recording of his grandfather's voice, then his family will sue me for copyright infringement!

-m

100-year shelf life, but 3 year usage life?? (4, Informative)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940753)

I know lots of people that have "worn out" cd's. The first time I heard that, I thought they were kidding, but no... even if you take super great care of say, an audio cd, it will eventually wear out. It's especially bad if you keep it in the original plastic jewel case, and take it out each time -- my friend's rare Pearl Jam CD's are nearly scratched beyond playability, but he was able to extract the digital information before it got lost. What makes CD's better than tapes is that the 0's and 1's will always "be the same" logically, unfortunately the physical media wears out quickly with use. I prefer to think of CD's as a temporary storage mechanism for a permanent idea, like a sketch on newsprint. Once the newsprint disintegrates, you'd better hope you made something good with the idea... it doesn't mean the idea is gone, but the medium isn't like stone.

Re:100-year shelf life, but 3 year usage life?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940901)

Actually, the 1s and 0s may not be read the same each time. CD players have error correction code to compensate.

Re:100-year shelf life, but 3 year usage life?? (4, Insightful)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940970)

I still have perfectly working music CDs from the late 80s.
I have data CDs from the early 90s that are fine also
I just dug up some CD-Rs I burned from 1998 and they were fine also.

I think CDs can last a long time, but just like everything else...you need to take care of them. If it's something you use all the time, make backups and use those.
It's not time that kills CDs...it's scratches and wear.

hmm (1)

guitarded (628498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940756)

Is this just new media they are talking about or is older media included? I remember a long time ago it seemed as if the quality of the media was a lot better than it is now(makes sense). I have cds over 5 years old that work better than ones i burn today. Is this a problem with the quality of the media, the write speed, or just all CDs?

This bugs me. (1)

Jin Wicked (317953) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940759)

Right now I keep everything backed up to a second hard-drive and on disk... it doesn't have to last forever, but if CDs randomly go bad with no way to tell, and after three hard drive crashes this year alone I have little faith in them lasting... are there any other good long-term ways to store large amounts of data, other than what I'm already doing? (In my case, huge scans of image files.)

Since reading a previous story I already make sure I store all my CDs horizontally, and use the good, more expensive ones for anything I'm archiving for the long term.

Re:This bugs me. (1)

Flashbck (739237) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940848)

Yeah there is a better and cheaper solution that will last a damn long time...DAT tapes. Or if you're willing to spend a little more money (depends on how much data you have) try a DLT tape...

Indeed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940910)

are there any other good long-term ways to store large amounts of data, other than what I'm already doing? (In my case, huge scans of image files.) I agree. The needs of the really dedicated pron archivist are being overlooked here. How would normal people like it if their significant other became slowly degraded over 10 years and became covered in dints and imperfections?

Redundant hard drives is my solution too (3, Insightful)

phildog (650210) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940988)

I think you are doing the right thing. Who has time to dick around backing up to CDs, tapes, etc? To me, any backup solution that spans multiple tapes, etc is severely broken.

I have a big honkin hard drive 120gig with all my stuff at home. I have a 2nd big honkin 120gig that has USB2. I take the USB2 drive to work once a month and leave it there. Bingo--off-site backup solution. (Yes, encrypted file system so co-workers can't browse my comprehensive porn collection.)

The stuff that changes more often (like photos) that I couldn't really bear to lose I rsync to my linux box over the net.

Everything fails, redundancy is the way to go. And it has to be easy.

Unless you scratch them, shelf life is long. (1, Interesting)

DroopyStonx (683090) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940764)

I have CDs that were made about 7 years ago that are in relatively good shape and run just fine. They have the usually tiny scratches and dings, but... I don't get where people state that CDs will magically stop working after so many years.

Old formats require old machines (5, Insightful)

thoth (7907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940766)

The danger in "old" storage formats is lack of machines to read them. Those tapes may be in good shape, and so might the data on an 8" floppy I have, but the 8" floppy is effectively lost to me because I don't have easy access to a drive that can read it anymore! The paper tape programs I "printed" out from a VAX PDP-11 are probably good (if I hadn't lost them years ago) but I can't get to a tape reader, etc.

You almost have to make dozens of copies of data on a modern cheap format, and keep moving it forward.

First of all... (5, Insightful)

unperson (223869) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940771)

How do you know there is no loss with analog?

Analog quality loss is acceptable, because it results in static. Digital loss isn't acceptable, because (at least practically) it is a binary property...the CD works or it doesn't. Scratch the hell out of a record, and at least you still have something.

We could build acceptable redundancy into digital backups, its just that most people think of it as wasteful. You know what though?... I have everything worthy of backup "backed up" in at least 3 places, one of which is always CD stored somewhere out of reach. Digital is better. Once you convert to digital, you can have zero quality loss with near 100% efficiency, you just have to want it that bad.

Re:First of all... (4, Informative)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940959)

Have you ever head of Reed-Solomon? There is redundancy built into CDs.

Analog Audio is not a fair comparison (5, Informative)

dankney (631226) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940773)

It's not exactly a fair comparison between CD-R and analog tape for audio. The audio tape isn't "more reliable." It just degrades differently.

As the tape ages, the quality of the audio signal degrades dramatically, but because it is an analogue signal, it can still be deciphered by or ears.

With digital medium, the audio never gets worse. As the media degrades, it just reaches a point where it isn't able to be deciphered as audio data.

If you want to compare the mediums (magnetic tape vs. CR-R), data is probably a better place to do so. You can easily measure the amount of readable/unreadable data in bytes and make a fair, quantifiable comparison.

Storage Conditions (4, Insightful)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940775)

In the wrong conditions, such as sunlight, humidity and upper surface damage, your CD-R will slowly turn into a coaster. "CD-Rs should never be left lying in sunlight as there's an element of light sensitivity, certainly in the poor quality media," says Stevenson. "I wouldn't rely on CD-Rs for long-term storage unless you're prepared to deal with them as recommended."

Surely storing cd's correctly is the key, if the dye on a cdr fades after being kept in a jewel case at a room temperature fr 2 years then that is obviously very bad (and there could be some lawsuits in the future).

Easy (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940776)

Set up a a couple of raid storage devices in two or three data centers, preferably one on another continent than the one you live. Set up some sort of auto-syncing mechanism and be sure to change out your disks twice a year for extra safety. Actually, it would be best to buy all new equipment yearly. Also, contract at least two remote backup services to backup your data nightly. Do this, and you can be sure your data will be safe forever (barring nuclear war or a massive asteroid striking earth.)

Bah.... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940780)

"Expect failure after only 5 years..."

Mine dont last 10 seconds... in the microwave [hamjudo.com] .

Redundancy (3, Informative)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940788)

Keep original copies on the Harddrive, Cassette, ect and then make copies as needed.

Tape isn't going to last forever. At least when it's digital you can easily transfer to new media without loss of quality.

If it's really important you just need to make sure you keep ahead of obsolecence. Transfer the stuff to the new standard before the old standard completely goes away. There's always a transition period.

Ben

5 Years is accurate (3, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940790)

I have found most of my cdr's that are that age or older are starting to fail.

Rather dissapointing the first time it happened.

seems to be from several big brand names, so it must be a limitation of the Dye, not just a bad batch.

But then again, it was designed to be written too ( i.e. physcially changed ) so how can one expect it to last forever?

Use both. (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940793)

Burn to CD-R, keep in on your hard drive as a WAV, and keep the tapes too. That might still not be enough.

If you honestly want to keep your data for a long period of time, you may need to take extreme measures.

Boson? (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940794)

Don't worry, with the recent success of resoring old recordings with QM tech [slashdot.org] , I'm sure that by 2200 there will be a way to restore data off a bunk cd-r;)

You're citing Rense.com as an authority? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940802)

The first link is to rense.com, a website that promulgates the theory that the US government is experimenting on us with "chem trails" emitted by otherwise innocuous-looking aircraft flying overhead. The webmaster at that site obviously has a very low threshold for rubbish, and no critical thinking ability!

Re:You're citing Rense.com as an authority? (4, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940903)

Chemtrails, CIA mindcontrol, UFOs, Bigfoot, and now CDRs...

Do I have to wrap my por^H^H data archives in tinfoil now as well?

use gmail (1)

airConditionedGypsy (703864) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940803)

Better yet, just sign up for 100 accounts at gmail and do rotating automated backup to those accounts. Of course, you should also encrypt the data after compression.

Another 6 months, another CD longevity article (4, Interesting)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940808)

What's the deal? This same article with a slightly different look shows up every 6 months, it seems.

Besides the fact that CDs DON'T have a 100 year shelf life, we've also discussed the CD eating fungus several times here, which for people in hot and humid environments (particularly, it seems, Mexico, Central, and South America) can reduce a CDs lifespan to months or a couple of years.

And then you have the fact that rewriteables have an even shorter lifespan.

One thing that's rarely mentioned is the fact that most CDs are defectively manufactured. I say this because the metalic layer between the plastic is supposed to be sealed. But the fact that the aforementioned CD eating fungus enters through the two layers of plastic says to me that CDs are generally defective in that they fail to properly seal this layer.

I personally lost about 25% of my CD collection to this fungus over a 2 year period in Mexico, so I speak with some experience. These CDs were not abused. Most were in plastic cases, some were in sleeved carriers.

Re:Another 6 months, another CD longevity article (1)

msheppard (150231) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940993)

What's the deal? This same article with a slightly different look shows up every 6 months, it seems.
And it's gonna keep showing up for well over 100yrs if we don't stop posting it to slashdot.

M@

my first audio cds are dying (2, Interesting)

avandesande (143899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940810)

Some of my first cds purchased in 86 (Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland) are clearly losing sound quality.

Re:my first audio cds are dying (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940950)

Does Netcraft confirm this?

Re:my first audio cds are dying (4, Informative)

tuffy (10202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940974)

Some of my first cds purchased in 86 (Are You Experienced and Electric Ladyland) are clearly losing sound quality.

Pressed CDs shouldn't be as vulnerable to bit rot as burned CD-Rs. But I can't understand how the discs would lose quality. One either gets a valid frame of redbook audio or not. I can understand that some of the frames might go bad (even to the point where the built-in error correction can't help) and lead to audio defects, but I don't see how the whole disc would sound different than before.

CDs wearing away after 5-6 years is a myth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940824)

I have yet to see any of my old copied CD-Rs fail (or anyone else's, for that matter). I don't expect them to fail, either.

Why 100 years ? (5, Interesting)

da_reboot (683601) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940832)

I don't get this obsession with hoping to keep media for 100 years. Technically punch cards are forever. Do you still use them ? No, because their storage capacity is ridiculous by today's standard. In five years you will store your data probably on your solid-state 200 g key-chain.... move with the times..

FUD (3, Interesting)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940834)

All this about CD's not lasting very long is just FUD by the RIAA. In the next few years or so they will want to bring out a new type of media so that everybody has to restock their cd collection with the new media format.

Bottom line, buy cheap media then you will suffer the consequences. Buy decent media; buy a reputable brand and you can expect reasonable lifespan.

Hey, and wasnt this a dupe? albeit one with a twist ?

nick ...

Re:FUD (1)

Slurms (144553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940930)

Bottom line, buy cheap media then you will suffer the consequences. Buy decent media; buy a reputable brand and you can expect reasonable lifespan.

Can you point me to a study that shows which brands are indeed reputable and high quality?

I have found that in most things paying more doesn't necessarily mean you're getting higher quality. It may be more likely, but not a given.

Long term audio storage (4, Informative)

shawkin (165588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940838)

The BBC Library still uses vinyl records for long term audio storage. For some items they cut a lacquer master, plate the metal stampers on the lacquer and leave the metal stampers attached to the lacquer.

They believe that this will preserve the audio for about 300 years and they say that vinyl is the only storage medium with a real and predictable life span.

Archive the raw samples! (5, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940847)

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: do not filter or otherwise "enhance" the audio files before you store them. Instead, save them losslessly, hisses, pops, and all.

Audio processing technology will get better. Don't ruin your grandkids' heirloom recordings by using today's technology to permanently alter them.

Make working copies and filter those as much as you want, but keep those masters pristine! Maybe somewhere in the background you can hear your grandma yelling at dear ol' grandpa to put that thing away and paint the house, and a clumsy run with an agressive low-pass filter will throw that data away forever. You have something really valuable; please take care of it for the future.

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940932)

If their technology is so great, they can enhance my audio files no matter the condition. Ever see Star Trek!? They take blurry photos, and then extrapolote and you see clear photos!

Digital = Redundancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940854)

Regardless of the fragility of the CD, digitized data can be duplicated as frequently and as cheaply as you wish. Redundancy is the surest form of protection.... and storage space is cheap. For an interesting backup scheme, see http://www.csua.berkeley.edu/~emin/source_code/dib s/

The 100-year problem... (2, Informative)

Anthony Boyd (242971) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940855)

...is not that the CDs will decay and become unusable. The real problem will be that the file formats of today will be replaced in 10 years, and will be a legacy file format only readable with a compatibility layer in 20 years. In 50 years, that CD will be unreadable. Of course, storing it in ISO 9660 format would offer some protection. If nothing can read the CD 50 years from now, you could at least fall back to the standard spec write your own code to read it.

Oddly enough, I note that UDF is getting pushed as a replacement to 9660. So maybe even 9660 will be outdated faster than I expect.

Will CD drives exist then? I certainly can't get an old cassette tape drive these days, and that's only been 20 years. Hmm. I think in 100 years, the decay of your CD will be only 1 of many problems.

CDs can last for 100 years. (1, Informative)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940860)

The testing that is being done on these CDs is extreme. If you stored your cassette tapes in 60-80 degrees celsius and 85% humidity, the cassettes would also fail. Neither media is intended to be stored under these conditions. Just as these CDs are failing so do cassettes. There have been numerous times where my cassettes have become unusable because the have spent too much time in a hot car ~60C.

If your CDs are store in a cool dry place, out of direct sunlight they can certainly last 100 years your cassettes probably can too.

CD tips for longetivity (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940869)

  • Avoid exposure to UV radiation. Keep locked in a lead casket when not in use.
  • To prevent chemical reactions from affecting the disk, keep chilled at -90' or so. Liquid notrogen is a useful cooling system.
  • Prevent scratches by always using ultra-smooth surfaces and clean-room environments.
  • To stop acids and other chemicals from the body attacking the CD, use those space-suits from the Intel commercials.


Now, you can enjoy your CDs for a long time...

Crisis with CD's much sooner (1)

bjoeg (629707) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940871)

News here in .dk had a report some days ago about public libraries beginning to have a crisis on their hands.

Many original CDs dated back to the early 80's are unreadable.

Technology has moved since the 80's, but still, this is a kinda prewarning that a lot of material will prolly disappear if better solutions are not around soon.

Free Biz Idea (2, Interesting)

bobej1977 (580278) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940877)

Online secure data storage. Charge $1 per year (or whatever) per megabyte for guaranteed long term multi-site storage that is guaranteed to exist uncorrupted for the term of your paid subscription. Users wouldn't be able to manipulate the files, just insert an archive, pay and retrieve it, say, 100 times per month (to limit use of the archive as a distribution point). You use some slow, but bulletproof encryption on the archive files.

Anybody want to fund me? :) Is somebody already doing this? I might be interested, I've got files I've been kicking around for almost a decade that I'd hate to loose.

Re:Free Biz Idea (3, Insightful)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940995)

I wouldn't even allow 100 per month, maybe 10 times a month. Or even completely offline altogether.

Better get some great insurance, I wouldn't want someone to have their 1850's relatives diary destroyed and then find out that I also lost their only digital copy!

Simple (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940879)

Personnaly I just discovered 6 audio cassettes with the voice of my late grandfather.....I was thinking about digitizing everything, do a little noise reduction, and burning this on CD's, for my childrens and great grand-childrens enjoyment

Go ahead and digitize everything. Then get yourself a couple of accounts at Gmail [google.com] when it becomes available. Then email the audio to yourself. You will have it forever then.

Of course you will see a lot of google adwords for Geritol [geritol.com] and Ben Gay [yahoo.com] , but nothing is perfect.

Seems to be some common sense here. . . (1)

noewun (591275) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940880)

Store your CDs in a cool, dry place which has a constant temperature, and if it's dark, all the better.

UDF ISO? (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940882)

There's talk of UDF (DVD filesystem) being more resistant to errors than ISO9660; sadly nobody seems to have a source for this. While I doubt anything's going to help much if your CD/DVD-R's have things growing on them, does anyone know enough about these filesystems to comment?

As an owner of a Professional recording studio.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940890)

a well-informed friend of mine told me back in the 80's to NEVER use CD's for archival purposes.
thankfully, I haven't. Most Cd's i burned more than 5 years ago are screwed.

eternal storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940899)

What about this: disks made out of diamond, and then use lasers to store data on them.

How about DVD-Rs? (1)

aslate (675607) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940900)

Well, we know about CD-Rs degrading quickly, but what about DVD-Rs? Are they similar in degredation or different? How long can i expect my Bulkpaq DVD-Rs to last?

Whatever happened to backups (2, Informative)

John the Kiwi (653757) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940902)

It's all well and good to have a CD to back up your precious files (Audio, Video, documents etc) to but this doesn't cut it as a real backup.

With disk space being so cheap now I keep a copy of all of my important data on my server, mapped drives to connect etc. I then have a login script that runs on a workstation and backs that data locally to the workstation (now I have two copies) - Windows users can use Robocopy and *nix users have rsync, both of these tools are exceptional and only copy the newer/changed files so the backup of 50+ gigs of data seldom takes more than 15 minutes.

I then back that up to one of two external hard disks, one of which is always in a safety deposit box.

CDs never were and never should have been a good backup solution. The technology will change. A good backup solution is one that changes with the technology. I know that these external drives will one day be obsolete but to there is no degradation of data like a CD that has flakes falling off of it after 2 months.

It's also far more cost effective and as I upgrade my computers over time I know my files will be updated too and when the tech moves beyond external hard drives I'll change the solution then. Backing up to CD once like that is asking for trouble if you never test the media, like I do on a daily basis, I still have old school assignments from 10+ years ago, pictures and business data that I know I will never lose.

John the Kiwi

Didn't Torvalds solve this problem? (1)

Flashpot (773365) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940907)

Real men don't make backups. Real men post to the internet and let the world mirror ir. Or something like that.

Oblig 'Me Too' Post (4, Informative)

da3dAlus (20553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940909)

I'm sure what I'll say has already been said, but I can certainly attest to the shorter-than-advertised longevity of CDR media. I recently had to pull some long lost files off of CD's I burned back in the college days, probably 5 years ago or so. These consisted of several types of media, both cheap and expensive, green and blue dye, sticker and no sticker. Basically the dye color has little effect, and stickers really do call for the early death of the media. But most of all, I think it was the early CD burning software or the actual CD-Rec drive that I used. Some earlier CD's, that I know I burned at work (using the latest software at the time) were near flawless. But a batch burned later, on a friend's computer using some lesser known software, was completely corrupt (TOC and CRC errors abound). I now make sure I get decent CDR's like TDK's (not the cheap CompUSA stuff), don't use stickers, always keep them in a multi-CD case, and run a bit-for-bit check on the archive after burning with Nero. I have yet to have a problem since I started this practice at least 2 years ago...although time will certainly tell.

Decay (1)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940913)

Magnetic media like cassettes, VCR tapes, and floppies will all degrade with time, just like CDR's. It's probably hard to tell with your old tape but I seriously doubt it sounds as good as it did back then. It's just not that big a deal because our brians are excellent audio decoders. Every time I have to use a floppy I literally go through 5 to 10 floppies just to find one that works because they are all 6+ years old.

Unlike analog data, digital data does not degrade. The media might degrade but the actual data does not (it either works or it doesn't).

I just upgrade formats every couple years. For example, I had a bunch of digital pictures on floppy many years ago. When CD recorders got cheap enough I moved them to CDRW. Just recently, when DVD recorders got cheap enough I moved them to DVD+RW. Next will probably be to the new 8GB DVD-R's. Even though I have more data, I still use less media because the new formats always hold way more than the old versions. I never have to worry about quality degradation because they are exactly as they were when I originally made them.

Periodically check CDRs (3, Informative)

bigberk (547360) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940918)

I now write myself a little note on my CDRs to indicate how much of the surface causes read errors. Nero's "CD Speed" tool is very useful for this, as it has a ScanDisc tool incorporated within it.

When too much of my CD's surface has read errors, I make a new copy of the CDR. So far I've only had to do this for 3 of my discs over the past 6 years or so.

speaking of... (1)

arctan1701 (635900) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940941)

Personnaly I just discovered 6 audio cassettes with the voice of my late grandfather, talking about old times. These tapes are copies of reel to reel recorded in 1971, and they are still in excellent shape. I was thinking about digitizing everything, do a little noise reduction, and burning this on CD's, for my childrens and great grand-childrens enjoyment


speaking of this, is there a service that does this that people on /. would recommend?

use gmail? (3, Funny)

Frederic54 (3788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940942)

convert everything to mp3, and send them to your gmail account, they will be kept here forever in multiple redundant copies

CD RW are better ??? (3, Interesting)

iMaple (769378) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940957)

The article says Not all optical media is vulnerable. The rewritable variants (RW) use metallic materials that change the phase of the light, rather than light-sensitive dyes. Commercial magneto-optical and ultra-density optical systems are different too. Do they mean to say that CD RW's are resistant to aging compared to CD-Rs ??

I always thought that CD-R s are more reliable than the RW's and genrally back up my data to CDRs ( and of course CDRW are more expensive)

(plus one Inform4tive) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940961)

sim4le solution [goat.cx]

I've found CD's with holes in the foil! (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940966)

I've got dozens and dozens of CD's with holes all in them, like someone sprayed acid on them or something, it's not eaten through the plastic at all, just the foil is gone. It's really weird. I can't explain what it is for sure but best guess is that about two years ago my A/C went out and I went 9 months without climate control, 100% humidity and high heat. Very miserable (I won't mention the name of the HVAC contractor though) and now I am wondering if that's what killed all those CD's.. I thought it was toner that got on them when I broke open a toner cart but I find that hard to accept.

The rot thing, I dunno, that's weird too...

New technology (1)

pikine (771084) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940978)

Odd as it seems, the new technology that gets introduced every 3 years is your best friend. 6 years ago, we had CD-R. 3 years ago, we had DVD-R. Now we're going to have Blu-ray (or DVD-HD soon). Everytime a new format comes out, density of the media also increases. You can use this opportunity to transfer all your data on the old media to the new one.

The benefit is that you get to reduce the number of media you need to keep (since you can cram more to a disc in the new media format), and you maintain "freshness" of the media as well, everytime you "transburn" your data.

CD:s from 1976 !? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8940979)

As far as I know the first CD-player (the Philips CD-101) came to the market 1981 !

That does it (4, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#8940983)

That does it. I'm converting all my mp3 collection to 8-track tapes. Does anyone know of a good 8-track tape recorder that mounts in a typical tower 5.25" drive bay to make this easy?
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