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  1. #1
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    Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    In WWW #6.17, in a feature entitled CD-R.DIE.DIE.DIE, we read:-

    A Dutch magazine called PC-Active ran a series of tests on CD-Rs, trying to see how long data recorded on big-name and no-name CD-Rs really last.

    I was surprised to see that they had CD-Rs with high failure rates after just 20 months. Actually, I wasn't that surprised, because I've been hit with a bunch of bad CD-Rs lately, too.

    endquote.

    On Sept 15 I responded with:-

    Surely this issue is at least as serious as any security problem so far, and can create major problems for many users who never or rarely use the internet. It could be deadly serious for me!

    Has the rest of the weekly press picked up on it?

    What are the reactions of the burner software companies?

    The English-language article didn't reveal much more than your own summary, and I don't read Dutch so I didn't go to the original.

    Can you say whether the test distinguished between drives used or software used? Were storage conditions taken into consideration? Were there any findings about the mode of deterioration - dirt, scratches, physical deformation, temperature. Are the results equally applicable to all drives and programs, and merely dependent upon the medium used? Are there ways to detect degradation before it affects readability? Are there recovery technologies that can be applied?

    As you can tell, I am really stirred up about this!

    endsecondquote

    Consulting locally, I hear that the problem is due to ultraviolet light degrading the laser-cut image, especially in cheap CD-Rs because they have only a thin layer of light-sensitive material.

    Is that true? Is it the whole explanation? I suppose they are as vulnerable before recording as after. Am I OK if I keep ALL my CD-Rs in a dark cupboard or dark box?

    Are CD-RWs secure because they have a thicker layer? Seems to me they will get vulnerable after re-recording several times.

    Is there any way to be sure of buying a less vulnerable CD-R? Surely there ought to be an international standard way of grading the products for different markets - eg who cares if a pop song fades after it's forgotten about?
    All help gratefully received!

  2. #2
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    I haven't read the complete article (the article containing the tests isn't available on the web in Dutch either, only the summary), but understandably, the article attracted a lot of attention here in The Netherlands.

    If I remember correctly, the main conclusions were that

    a) Many cheap CD-R's (no brand name or from a little-known brand) are not reliable, either because the manufacturer cut some corners during production, or because they have been dumped by well-known producers and are being re-sold under another name. Most well-known brands are OK.

    [img]/forums/images/smilies/cool.gif[/img] Storage conditions matter. As you might imagine, leaving CD-R's without sleave or box on the window sill or on top of the heating radiator is not the ideal way.

  3. #3
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    Googling for "long term data storage" produces a number of interesting articles.

    Long-term data storage poses a number of questions:<UL><LI>will the medium on which the data is stored deteriorate, and at what rate? Can the data be read from it?
    <LI>will the hardware device be available to read the medium many years from now (for example, who's still got a 5
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    I have software, like Win98 that I have had for 4 or 5 Years and it seems to be as good now, as it was when I bought it. I have CDR's that I have stuff burnt on, and they are two years old and older and they work like new. But they are all in cases and kept in a closed rack in a cool dry place.
    So I think it has to do with the Quality of the CDR, and a whole lot has to do with the the care that is taken with them and storage. Do not store in the open, in Humid or Hot areas,no refrigerators, or Lots of Direct Light, next to Speakers with huge Magnets, Don't use for coasters or paper weights, not a frizby. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  5. #5
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    What effect would huge speaker magnets have on the utterly non-magnetic plastic, aluminium and (perhaps) dye of a CD?

    [OK, I'll say it for you -- <big>Don't drop the speaker magnet on the CD...!</big>] <img src=/S/flatcat.gif border=0 alt=flatcat width=61 height=21>
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

  6. #6
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    Hell if I know, maybe if the speaker magnet is big enough it would just suck the data right off of the CDR. <img src=/S/electric.gif border=0 alt=electric width=15 height=15> <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  7. #7
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    There's definitely a shelf life, and DVD's are longer and I'm sure the technology is going to evolve. All image and recording media including photos has this to deal with. I see a lot of CD-R estimates between 5-10 years.

    Understanding CD-R and CD-RW Disc Longevity

    Maxell Claims 30 Year Shelf Life

    Shelf Life

    SMBP

  8. #8
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    Thank you for some very interesting references.
    Maxell's headline says its 4X CD-RW has a shelf life of 30 years, but the text beneath it merely claims up to 30 years (not specifying whether unrecorded or recorded) but also that the product will achieve 1000 rewrites per sector.
    The producers' organisation says there are standardised tests for resistance to temperature and humidity, and some manufacturers use additional tests. BUT there is no mention of testing CDs' vulnerability to electromagnetic radiation.
    All help gratefully received!

  9. #9
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    Re: Decline & Fall of CD-Rs

    <hr>BUT there is no mention of testing CDs' vulnerability to electromagnetic radiation. <hr>
    As I said before, this would not surprise me since they are non-magnetic! Even gamma radiation is unlikely to affect them unless concentrated enough to melt the substrate...
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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