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Burned CDs Last 5 years Max -- Use Tape?

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the been-there-before dept.

Data Storage 664

Lam1969 writes "Computerworld has interviewed Kurt Gerecke, an IBM storage expert and physicist who claims burned CDs only have a two to five-year lifespan, depending on the quality of the CD. From the article: "The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data 'shifting' on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam." Gerecke recommends magnetic tapes to store pictures, videos and songs."

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664 comments

Museum Archives (1)

guysmilee (720583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436390)

Use gold discs ... they last longer ... museums even use this.

Re:Museum Archives (4, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436411)

Those are records. I don't know about you, but I don't have an LP-ROM drive.

Re:Museum Archives (3, Funny)

3TimeLoser (853209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436725)

Yeah, except that seek time would really suck -- no matter how quickly you could pick up and move the tonearm.

The old ways (1)

charleste (537078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436706)

Much to the shagrin of CM everywhere... I guess it comes back to replication as the best way to store data. But just to check... I pulled out a 3.5" floppy I had written my first major program in 1985 (QuickBasic - Numerical Analysis Spline Function - Complete with graphics!). It still reads just fine. The problem was finding a drive to read it in. Now if I can only load up those old QuickBasic floppies (5.25") and run it...

I guess it depends on how you treat them (3, Informative)

bilbravo (763359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436399)

I have some CDs that are burned copies (although I'd call this great quality cds, not cheap storebrand with no backing), stored in a CD wallet case that are easily over 5 years old... still work great.

Re:I guess it depends on how you treat them (2, Interesting)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436437)

Ditto, but they are data CDs & pushing 7 years old. Only read problems are ones I've inflicted (scratches, etc)..

Jaysyn

Re:I guess it depends on how you treat them (1, Funny)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436533)

I've had the problem of a few of my burned CDs flaking off the reflective surface. I tried slicing it off of another CD-R, but to no avail.

Re:I guess it depends on how you treat them (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436582)

I think environment makes the biggest determination to lifespan.

Storing your discs correctly out of the way from heat and light allows them to last MUCH longer than leaving them on the windowsill or up on a common cd display (the plastic album cases aren't airtight, inside a wallet is certainly better protected)

Re:I guess it depends on how you treat them (1)

vicparedes (701354) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436627)

Uhmm... yes. And the good news is: IBM sells tape drives. Lots of storage on a single tape AND they last longer than CDs. I feel much better now.

Re:I guess it depends on how you treat them (3, Interesting)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436659)

I have both audio and data CDs I burned way back in, what, 1996? They still work perfectly. The first audio CD I burned at that time has spent the last 10 years in my car in the heat of Mexico. Still works perfectly.

Conflicts with other studies (4, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436412)

Haven't other studies confirmed much longer lifetimes in the past for CD-R? After all, we've had CD burners for longer than 2-5 years. Is this only a surprise because absolutely nobody has ever gone back and tried to read an old disc? Somehow I'm still doubtful of his conclusions.

Re:Conflicts with other studies (5, Funny)

metternich (888601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436570)

I've had burned CDs die very quickly as well though. Therefore the only solution is to upload your music onto P2P netwroks to save the back up copy fair use entitles you to.

Re:Conflicts with other studies (1)

pleasurized (120983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436720)

I've burned some data on very low-grade media that have failed in less than 5 years. Higher-end media (such as my old Kodak Gold CD-Rs) are still readable after the same span.

Like anything else, you get what you pay for.

5 years max? (5, Interesting)

blanktek (177640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436416)

I have CDs that have lasted 10 years with no errors. Obviously 5 years is not the maximum life. Perhaps the maximum EXPECTED life.

Re:5 years max? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436467)

were cd burners available back in 1995/6?

Re:5 years max? (2, Interesting)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436515)

I have a few data CDs that I burned in 97/98 that I recently pulled out. Worked fine for me. Then again, they were burned with a good quality Yamaha drive. I'm sure some of the stuff that I've burned more recently with a cheapo LiteOn drive (which died just after a year of use) won't fare so well.

Re:5 years max? (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436609)

Then again, they were burned with a good quality Yamaha drive.

What does the drive have to do with anything?

It's the discs that corrode.

Re:5 years max? (1)

murukusu (893892) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436705)

I don't think drives have anything to do with the discs lasting 5 or more years. According TA the problem is degradation in the disc material. That has nothing to do with the quality of the drive used originally to burn data.

Re:5 years max? (1)

hawkbug (94280) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436524)

Yeah - I had one in November or December 1997, and I got it used off of Ebay. So, in order for me to get it used, somebody must have had it before me. Sure, I paid $300 for the thing and it wrote at 2x and was an external SCSI drive, but it worked great switching between my Mac and Windows PCs.

Makes no sense (1)

snwobird122 (779810) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436419)

I'm sure I won't be the first to say that I have been burning CDs for more than 5 years, and have basically never had one fail. This "Scientific Research" doesn't really pass the bullshit test.

It's extremely variable (1)

kalpol (714519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436424)

I have a couple of CDs (Ricoh brand) that I burned in 1997 that still work fine. I have a few I burned last year that are dead already.

Burned CDs last 10+ years (1)

SeanAD (743296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436434)

I have data CDs burned in 1995. They still read just fine. I have audio CDs burned in 1998. They, too, work fine.

This is bogus. Who writes this tripe?

Re:Burned CDs last 10+ years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436528)

I believe the intimation is that the expected value is 5 years - not the maximum.

Re:Burned CDs last 10+ years (2, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436584)

The tape companies, obviously.

Re:Burned CDs last 10+ years (1)

morcego (260031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436704)

Or maybe people who know what they are talking about ?
Backup professionals have been saying this for years.

We are not talking about "storing the 3117 mp3's just downloaded", but about company data that means money.

You can store your MP3s files on a SS/SD floppy for all anyone cares. But when it comes to company data, you better make sure you have a reliable backup media.

So some CDRs will last for 10 years. How many ? 1 in 10 ? 1 in 2 ? Unless you can show that more than 99% of them will have that lifespan, they are useless for real backup.

CD-Rs with a 100 year warranty (5, Interesting)

OverDrive33 (468610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436438)

We've known that CD-Rs will degrade for a long time. Hispace [hispace.com] have recently launched a new range of CD-Rs aimed at digital photographers. These disks use 24 caret gold to help add stability to the disks. As a result, they come with a 100 year warranty.

Your porn will be around for decades after all!!

Re:CD-Rs with a 100 year warranty (1)

SpinJaunt (847897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436621)

Your porn will be around for decades after all!!
Leaving this in your will for the grandkids? or maybe the greatgrandkids??

All we need now is a CD-ROM drive that will last as long as the CD's.

Re:CD-Rs with a 100 year warranty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436722)

The thing is, the old CD-R's that I have actually had 100 year warranties also. Pffffft.

Re:CD-Rs with a 100 year warranty (3, Insightful)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436733)

If they can guarantee 100-year lifespan with a bit of gold then surely the problem with normal discs is over-stated. And that guarantee - does it cover the disc, or the data? No good in 30 years if I want to look at my "family album" - I don't want a blank disc to replace the degraded CD, I want the data.

Backup media (1, Informative)

morcego (260031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436448)

Anyone who uses anything but real backup media for backup deserves to loose his data.
CDs and DVDs are not for backup. Yes, you can use them to transfer data, or even for short term storage (6 months or less).
HD is also not a good media for backup. If you keep it running, it will break down soon. If you don't, it will also break down, since it doesn't live long without some spinups.
Flash (and other solid state media) also will loose its content in a short time if not refreshed.

We really don't have many options besides tapes. And even tapes are still a problem, since the tape using tend to break down, and you can't find units around for old media (tried to buy a hexabyte unit lately ?).

All in all, tape is the way to go, but make sure you have backups for your tape drives too. Make sure you have humidity and temp control.

Re:Backup media (1)

dsgitl (922908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436698)

What about printing all of your text data and keeping it in folders? Hiring someone to paint all of your images onto canvas or papyrus? Then perhaps dip everything in honey and bury it deep underground?

Provided everything is kept airtight, your mummified data should last a few thousand years or so. That's pretty good, right?

Re:Backup media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436738)

Standard techy response... completely clueless about the social realities of backup. Only .00001% of home users are going to even consider backing up onto tape. The rest will back up to external hard drives (pricey) or to optical media, or not at all. Go on ranting about "just desserts" while people are losing data. It's rather like how the CPR rules were changed recently. The new rules are worse, stricly speaking. They are now asking us to do a shoddy job of CPR. But the population at large wasn't capable of executing the better version, and we realized that and went with what was going to have the largest practical benefit. You need to do the same. Get people to back up anything, ever, on any media, and you've won the biggest battle. Because very likely, when they need it, that backup will work no matter what they put it on.

Oh, and if you think this is different for businesses, think again. Biggest hurdle is still getting them to back anything up at all. So, ditto for business.

I can attest to that... (4, Informative)

ajiva (156759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436462)

The wedding photographer for my wedding gave me a DVD of the video + photos. After about two years the DVDs were so degraded that I could not a single DVD player would recognize them. And that's with light usage... Now I keep important DVD as images on an external hard disk.

Re:I can attest to that... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436620)

You should ALWAYS make a backup of any disk in active use.
The backup should be protected and stored out of the way.

Re:I can attest to that... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436696)

you were given inferior product. As a side biz I do the same thing and the DVD's I give my clients cost me $12.95 each AND I also give them a DV tape of the raw footage. the DVD blanks and CD blanks I use are archival quality and are very high end. Anyone doing wedding video and photography not using them is simply ripping off their customers.

The only permanent solution (1, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436463)


I've known about this for years...that's why I store all my important data exclusively on punch cards. Nothing will degrade my precious bales and bales of punch cards! My data will outlast the Apocalypse!

See, look at all these wonderful punched cards....they'll last fore...waitaminit...where did all these silverfish come from???

NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:The only permanent solution (1)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436672)

What I want are unobtanium punchcards, punched with little microscopic holes to maximize density. Then in 6000 years when someone digs me up out of the pyramid I built for myself they'll be able to read my blog and see that my mood was "excited".

Assuming ascii is still around by then.

Re:The only permanent solution (0)

the phantom (107624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436691)

See, this is where I have you beat. All of my data is stored on stainless steel punchcards. They will survive forever! Bwa hahahaha!

Hrm... what's that dripping sound? Water!? RUST! NOOOOOOO!

The only holy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436727)

You laugh but I bet IBM's Millipede [ibm.com] would outlast present technology (including tape).

Re:The only permanent solution (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436729)

All humor aside, punchcards don't last long. My dad had some 15 year old punchcards stored out in the garage. They had dried out and yellowed to the point of fragility already.

Tapes degrade too (1)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436465)

Tapes will degrade as well (think cassette tapes). While CDs may not last forever, they certainly are much easier to use and more prevalent than tape backup systems (I'm not saying they're better). The world will not switch to tape systems. Besides CDs can last as long as tapes if you store them in a cool (not cold), dark place. If your data is so important, then you should be careful with your backups and certainly won't rely on CDs; you'll have HDD backups, CD, flash, and whatever else you can get your hands on.

Re:Tapes degrade too (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436638)

Switch to? I've never worked anywhere that used anything else for real data stoarge. Tape is still the standard, if you're not a home user.

Nothing lasts forever (4, Informative)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436469)

When I first asked this question of how long CDs will last, I was told about 70 years.
I was also told that to lengthen a CDs shelf life, always store them vertically in a cool dry place, and clean them from the inside ring to the outer edge in a straight line.

I found an article from the Optical Storage Technology Association and they say it depends on the initial CD quality and handling.
According to this article, unrecorded CDRs last about 5-10 years, manufacturers claim recorded CDRs 50-200 years and recorded CDRWs 20-100 years.

More info: http://www.osta.org/technology/cdqa13.htm [osta.org]

hi, this is slashdot.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436473)

...we use these things, they last longer than 5 years.

Poke your head out of academia/the research lab once every decade.

Not mine (1)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436477)

I just checked some 8-9 year old CD-R disks, and they are reading fine, no read errors. I store them in a metal drawer (dark, cool). Does IBM still make tapes and drives?

Isn't it less than 5 years? (1)

mcho (878145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436478)

Somewhere I've read that, depending on the quality of the blank CD media you're using and how you're storing it, expected lifespans can be as low as two (2) years.

Long term digital storage... (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436504)

Great, we're back to punch cards again.

My understanding is that magnetic systems like tape and HD slowly de-magnify over a long enough period. Is there any other digital storage mechanism that doesn't degrade in optimal storage conditions over long enough time frames (ie 100 years plus)?

I have no idea if I'll ever have anything worth keeping for that long, but I'd like to be able to do it if the need arises. And there's always pr0n backups to think of.

Verbatim Discs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436526)

I find this very interesting, considering that for a long time Verbatim CD that I bought actually listed the AZO technology (or whatever the listed) as being so good that it guaranteed the integrity of the disc for over 50 years.

I've always used Verbatim CD, and all my old data still works fine. The only bad burns I ever had were because my first generation burner would choke if I tried to multi-task at all.

Just my 2 cents, anyone else remember that Verbatim technology?

Watching his tape stock closely? (1)

Jim in Buffalo (939861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436529)

I wonder if that engineer is watching his stock in the magnetic tape manufacturers to see if it goes up.

Dutch Study? (2, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436530)

I can't remember all of the details, but I am sure there was a Dutch group who took a sample of all of the available CDs at the time, burnt data onto them, put them in storage for 2 years and then re-tested the disks quality. Their results showed that all of the disks had significant degredation.

OK .. here is a link to a news report of that study

http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/7751 [cdfreaks.com] This link includes a link to the original Dutch article

To quote:

"The tests showed that a number of CD-Rs had become completely unreadable while others could only be read back partially. Data that was recorded 20 months ago had become unreadable. These included discs of well known and lesser known manufacturers."

 

This doesn't pass the giggle test (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436535)

Last year (2004) I went back and copied all my CDs over to DVD, dating back to 1999 (well, oldest one still of any value). This was 100+ CDs, all stored in a standard CD wallet, treated nicely and kept in normal room conditions. None were unreadable, in fact the 1999 TDKs were all read at max speed. The noname CDs I bought in later years spun up and down and up and down but finally read all data as well. With some clean-up it didn't end up as more than about a dozen DVDs. On the other hand, you can destroy a disc that has no protection layer in seconds by e.g. dropping your keys on them, friend of mine did and the layer came right off. But they won't die from degradation alone.

Some things that degrade CDs (4, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436537)

  • Using them as coasters
  • DRM
  • Leaving them on the dashboard of your car
  • Contact with corrosives (orange juice, Bill O'Reilly, etc.)
  • Using them as shuriken

Use intelligent distributed databases (2, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436539)

The best way to preserve data, imho is storage independent. Suppose you want to archive your family photos. Sure you can put them on a hard drive... then you can use raid, hard drive will be replaced regulary and the probability of a simultaneous failure being low you dramatically increase the lifespan of your storage. The same could be done on the internet with a P2P network dedicated to long term storage. You divide your files into chuncks and calculate a hash. Peers download it and keep it on their machines. You just have to keep signatures of your chuncks, you can do that on highly reliable mediums, like grave it into stone if you wish. The P2P network automatically polls for chunks and ensure redundancy by pushing rare pieces to clients. To ensure collaboration, you can upload only a fraction of what you host. Some sort of bittorrent expect it's rather a bitpool.

Magtape, huh? (1)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436545)

Gerecke recommends magnetic tapes to store pictures, videos and songs.

Because, as anyone who's ever dealt with a cassette tape or a floppy disk knows, magnetic media never goes bad...

-JDF

Re:Magtape, huh? (1)

AkA lexC (939709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436685)

Its all well and good, but where the hell am i meant to keep my prize collection of rare-earth magnets?!

Photography's loss (3, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436550)

I've mulled this occasionally, but I suspect the late 20th century and early 21st century will become a mini-dark ages (at least for personal or family things).

The reasons for this:
1. depressingly high failure rate of hard disks
2. lack of long term storage media
3. obsolete formats

As for tape, DLTtape (invented for the venerable VAX) is supposed to be able to last 25 years in good condition. How many people buy DLTtape drives? They aren't cheap and the tapes are not cheap. They are about the only thing with the capacity to store all your photos and video on one cartridge.

Digital photos and video seem like great things (and are: I'd hate to have to edit my videos the old fashioned way) but there is a sting in the tail that most people won't expect. If I want to look at a photograph my Dad took in 1972, I just pull it out the draw and look at it. No maintenance has had to be done on that photograph - it's just been stored in a cool, dry, dark place.

Digital data on the other hand needs periodic maintenance. If a format you've used becomes obsolete, you have to go through and update your entire library. You have to periodically back it up. You have to periodically cut it to media like CD. How much family history have people lost already due to dead hard disks, and not realising the need to continuously back up and format shift? Even if a DLTtape cartridge is still intact and readable in 75 years time, will there be anything to read it? Will JPEG decoders come with everyone's device to view photos?

Old and incorrect news (2, Interesting)

digidave (259925) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436565)

Not only have the early deaths of CD-Rs been greatly exaggerated before, but even the lifespan of pressed CDs were (are?) hotly disputed. In the early 80's I heard all about how CDs would last forever because each play didn't degrade the quality ever so slightly like it did with cassette tapes and vinyl records. Then in the late 80's a group of researchers determined that CDs would probably only last ten years, for whatever reason.

I got my first CD-RW drive when it was a $700 2x model well over ten years ago. The first things I burned were a bootleg Tragically Hip CD and a few rented Playstation games. I still play that Hip CD and recently I dugg out my Playstation collection to use with the epsxe emulator and they all still work great, though I can't remember which of my burned games were copied when.

I have had a few CDs and DVDs go bad, but they've always been really cheap media. Even cheap CD-Rs have been ok, but I have noticed that cheap DVD-Rs can be very poor quality and sometimes the data won't last through the night. These are usually identifiable because at least half the time the data will be corrupt straight out of the burner. You don't have to spend a lot to get good media, just don't get the cheapest media you can find.

Re:Old and incorrect news (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436749)

Not only have the early deaths of CD-Rs been greatly exaggerated before, but even the lifespan of pressed CDs were (are?) hotly disputed. In the early 80's I heard all about how CDs would last forever because each play didn't degrade the quality ever so slightly like it did with cassette tapes and vinyl records. Then in the late 80's a group of researchers determined that CDs would probably only last ten years, for whatever reason.

I remember hearing about large runs of CDs being made in the 80s or so where the layers of the disc weren't sealed properly. The end result was air got in between the layers and eventually corroded the data layer.

My oldest music cds are 10 years old and they still work. I have some CDROMs around (somewhere) that are another couple years older. Maybe I should try them out if I can find them.

Riiiiight (1)

ludey (302445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436572)

Someone has stock in a magnetic media company. I have some way old CDs that are just fine.

Lifespan of data? Sub it out anyway. (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436579)

How many people find they need data after 6 months? Even with businesses, it seems that most of my customers (a lot of engineers and high-rise building contractors) seem to prefer paper form over digital, for archival purposes.

For data I really NEED for more than 6 months, I find off-site archival the best solution. First, that's their job. Second, they're cheap and they expand my data storage size as needed. Third, they're insured.

If someone tells me they "need" to save something forever, I point them to the off-site companies. All my customers are running a minimum of T1 in bandwidth. Most are much faster. If I have 10Mbps at home, businesses will be close behind. I've had hard drives that couldn't write that fast (kidding, but close) in the old days.

I don't see the need to worry about storage and environment and all that -- just subcontract it out. You do what you're good at, let others do what they're good at.

It really does depend on CD quality (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436583)

I have several CD-ROMs that I created over 10 years ago using Kodak Ultima CD-Rs and I can still read them in my PC and Mac. The Ultimas were the best CD-Rs, IMHO, that were ever made. It's a shame that Kodak no longer produces this high-quality line of CD-Rs. I certainly would willingly pay a premium price for these if I could find them or CD-Rs of the same quality.

Re:It really does depend on CD quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436707)

MAM-A http://www.mam-a-store.com/ [mam-a-store.com] makes CDs similar to the Kodak ones. They're made from gold and use a good quality dye.

The more recent CD-R are worse (2, Insightful)

Saint37 (932002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436587)

Seems that with all the recent cost cutting CD-R manufacturers have been using cheaper materials lately. I have CD-Rs that are like 10 years old and still running strong. However, I have some CD-Rs that I have purchased within the last few months and they are already going bad.

http://www.tradealyst.com/ [tradealyst.com]

burn speed (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436603)

Just wondering what effect burn speed has on the whole thing. I mean, there are obviously a lot of people here talking about how their CDs burned in 95-98 still work fine. Burn speeds at the time were limited to 2x-4x. Meanwhile, there are lots of stories about CDs burned in the last few years that have failed. These are generally burned at 24-40x. Any chance that it's not so much a factor of the media (though it will obviously play some role), but more a factor of the burn speed?

Re:burn speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14436744)

I usually burn slow because I find fast burns have greater failure rates right out of the drive. This probably has to do with the lack of preemptiveness of the Windows OS I usually am running when I burn.

New business opportunity? (1)

OlivierB (709839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436605)

I think businesses here and there are starting to realize that the digital era creates a ton of data that needs archiving.

People continue to buy music, take pictures, capture videos, buy music etc.. but less and less of it comes on a physical support.

People tend to "rat pack" everything on their computers. The problem is computers are inherently unsecure and reliable. Even top geeks tend to forget to back up their material.
Today we learn that indeed a DVD-R or CD-R is no good.

I have already started uploading my most precious data (pictures) to Flickr with a pro $25/year account. Unlimited storage and Flickr backup can retrieve everything for you if you need.

In the next 5-10years I predict many tears as people's computers get wiped out by viruses, get stolen or simply break-down.

Why can't a business offer unlimited storage with limited bandwith (i.e. 2gb/month)?

This is the only way digital media will survive throught the ages.

I have a burned CD from 1993 that still works (1)

phpsocialclub (575460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436610)

When I was in High School, in 1993, a friend of mines, brother burned me a copy of the Journman Project Mac CD-Rom Game on a CD burner at work. I think I paid $15 for the blank media, but I had a burned CD.

Last time I checked, that disk was still readable. It has been in box ever since.

this of course if only one case, but thought I would mention it
Andrew

I have CD's that are 10 years old (1)

Typingsux (65623) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436617)

They were burned at 2x via an iomagic 2x burner that cost 300 at the time. However I do have CD's with no names that are much younger and haven't lasted. They also just happen to be audio CD's. Any idea on DVD+r's? I'm just getting into burning the family vids on them how long can I expect them to last. I'm planning on keeping ISO images on an offline drive for backup.

after 5 years (4, Insightful)

CaptnMArk (9003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436626)

I just recently tested ~120 cds from about 1999-2002.

Attempting to read them with a DVD drive failed many discs.

But reading with a CD drive I was able to read all of them (after some cleaning) except two (most files were readable) that were scratched.

It seem there is some difference between DVD and CD drives.

Most CDs were burned with 2-8x speed, I almost never use >16x today.

Ugh (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436641)

Tape is a pain in the ass. Just make copies of your discs every few years, or whenever the technology changes (CDR to DVDR, DVDR to HDVDR, HDVDR to the holographic crystals from Superman, etc)

They're always underestimating things (1)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436657)

Have you ever read that the maximum life of a hard drive is 5 years or the maximum life of a processor is 10 years?

I might be temped to believe it if I haven't seen 20 year old computers running fine.

Tapes, yes, but... (2, Funny)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436665)

The concern I have is whether I had a working drive to read the tapes with in 40 years.. Oh, nevermind, I'm 60 now, so that probably won't be a problem for me personally..

Just keep archiving to bigger media (2, Insightful)

Fastfwd (44389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436671)

For most personal users one DVD will fit everything they need. If they have a big photo collection maybe re-burn all DVDs yearly.

I used to backup to CDROM. Now I back up to DVD. I'm sure something else will come out in the future.

Quality keeps going down (1)

frinkster (149158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436674)

People keep referring to their 10 year old CDs that still work just fine, but with the exremely competitive blank disc market, manufacturers are constantly looking to cut costs. As a result, the quality has been steadily declining. But that's ok. I would expect that 80% or more of all CDs burned today will have been thrown away 3 or 4 years from now. Most CDs are not burned for long-term backup.

If you really want long-term backup solutions, buy the true archival quality discs. You wont find them on the shelf at Best Buy for obvious reasons, but they are easily available if you go looking for them.

The final solution... (1)

wtansill (576643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436678)

Print out everything vital on acid-free archival-grade paper. Store it in a cool dry place. Lasts for centuries...

Instead of tape why not drives for long term? (5, Insightful)

portwojc (201398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436679)

Isn't the cost point close enough yet to just use hard drives instead for long term storage and not be too bad?

You can pick up OEM 250GB hard drives for around $100. Toss in a $50 USB case or a SATA case and you're looking at $1.67 a GB storage. Plus you're not limited to 4.5GB file size.

Sure drives fail but you won't be spinning them that often. I'm begining to think it may be worth it for the long term. Then use the USB drive or SATA as needed and if need be burn a disk.

Very true (1)

sucker_muts (776572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436682)

My brother stored 100+ movies on cd's a few years ago (2-3 years), and lots of them are unreadable now. At that time we did not think it would harm anything to use those, but storing the cd's on his sleeping room with hot temperatures during the summers and the nights, but cold during winter (and when he opens his room to ventilate) completely ruins them.

Nowadays with so many pc's coming and going we have enough hard drive space to keep data there. We only need to make sure we buy new drives from time to time to keep them very alive...

Yes, he DID say max 5 years (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436684)

I saw some people commenting that he was suggesting you should expect five years but not that it was the maximum. However, from TFA:

"Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a life span of around two years," Gerecke said. "Some of the better-quality discs offer a longer life span, of a maximum of five years."

On this claim I join others in calling BS because I have burn CDs that are older than 5 years and work fine. Granted I don't leave them out in the sun or outside their case at any time. In my experience all that kills burned CDs is the dreaded scratch that runs "parallel" to a track.

B.S. (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436701)

I call bullshit. I have about 10 spindles of 50 discs in my basement that are all > 5 years old, some are approaching 10.

I recently ran every disc in the oldest spindle through Nero CD Speed, which detects errors even if they are corrected. I found no more errors than I did in a similar sample of discs burned in the last month.

Tape is no good either; there are warehouses full of them rotting faster than they can be read, as we speak.

Just check them every once in a while... (1)

StarWynd (751816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436708)

Just like any other medium, how long the disks last depend in part on how you treat them. I have a stacks and stacks of data CDs that are still fine after several years, but I make sure to take care of them. For important data, I make at least two copies of the CD/DVD to make sure that we don't have a single point of failure. I also jot down the date that I burned the CD. Periodically, we'll pull out the CDs and try to read them. We don't do this with all of them, only the CDs that haven't been used for a couple years. Every once in a rare while you'll find a bad one -- just copy the good one over to a new CD, jot down the date and put them back. This might seem a little obsessive complusive to some of you, but trust me, it doesn't hurt to be extra cautious especially with really important data that may be called on years in the future and it really doesn't take that much effort.

Theory and reality (0, Troll)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436714)

What is that difference between theory and reality? In theory, there is no difference.

'nuff said.

-matthew

Not a new problem (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436732)

Historically, the best way to make sure that your data will really last, is to start a religion devoted to studying, copying, distributing, and preserving it.

The trick is to sort out the transcription errors after a couple millenia.

Most of my recovery CDs are questionable (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436734)

I have a bunch of Windows machines sold with no media, only a recovery CD proc and some blanks. I'm sure the state of these recovery CDs is questionable. Another year or two they'll be bad and when something goes wrong they won't be usable. I've already experienced this with a backup Windows 2000 installation CD.

So.....what you need to do is re burn all your burned CD's every 1-2 years.

NIST wrote a research paper on this topic (2, Informative)

jeffmurphy (189766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14436751)

NIST has a published research paper [nist.gov] (pdf) discussing how exposure to light and "harsh conditions" affects longevity. NIST also produces a guide for librarians and archivists [nist.gov] (pdf) for the handling and storage of CD/DVD media.

Finally, some have claimed [techbuilder.org] that the glue on the sticky labels might affect the longevity of the dye in the disc, presumably by leaching through the thin top coating of polymer. Search for "glue" in that story, it's half way down or so.

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