A public service announcement
August 26, 2003 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Attention data archivists... CD-R's go bad. A dutch study indicates that most CD-Recordable discs become virtually unreadable 20 months after being written.
posted by crunchland (48 comments total)
 
The conclusion was more along the lines of "SOME CD-Rs go bad". And the reaction of many forum posters at the site was similiar to mine - I have stuff sitting on extremely crappy CDRs from 4 years ago that test just fine.
posted by glenwood at 6:05 AM on August 26, 2003


I could have told you that. I had a batch of generic CD-Rs where the ink degraded in a little over two months.

On a related topic I read about a study a while back that said the longest lasting method for archiving material was good old pen on paper (assuming that digital info stays on its original medium). Sorry, cant seem to find it though.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 6:06 AM on August 26, 2003


Sort of hard to archive my 2000 stolen . . . er "archived" mp3s with pen and paper.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:07 AM on August 26, 2003


Outlawyr, you just need a small enough pen ...
posted by carter at 6:15 AM on August 26, 2003


well glenwood, when the manufacturers claim that the data written on CDs will last centuries, the fact that even a minority number of CDs don't last 20 months is at least worth noting, epsecially if you're like me, and tend to buy whatever CD-R is on sale.
posted by crunchland at 6:17 AM on August 26, 2003


well, guess those streetcorner "archived" cd sellers are gonna make out like bandits when you come back to re-buy that new r.kelly cdr.
posted by djspicerack at 6:18 AM on August 26, 2003


According to quite a few posters on slashdot, your data security can be enhanced by burning at slower speeds, which results in greater contrast in the pits burned by the laser.
posted by Blue Stone at 6:43 AM on August 26, 2003


Actually if you want to get technical, pen ink will also degrade. However, a pencil will last you a life time. That is why artists will sign their work in pencil. [derail, I know]
posted by Cool Alex at 6:44 AM on August 26, 2003


For those of you interested in keeping your data around, spend a little extra and get the cd-r's with the gold reflective layer. Kodak used to make these but really f*d up any competitive advantage they had. About the only place you can get these is from Mitsui themselves.

Kodak licensed their cd technology from Mitsui and independent tests figure that their discs have a lifetime of about 217 years. Now whether anything will read a cd at that point is another issue.
posted by jeremias at 6:47 AM on August 26, 2003


Sort of hard to archive my 2000 stolen . . . er "archived" mp3s

{snorts} amateur...
posted by signal at 6:49 AM on August 26, 2003


On a related topic I read about a study a while back that said the longest lasting method for archiving material was good old pen on paper

Only because we haven't yet found the Lost CD-Rs of Tutankhamun.
posted by Foosnark at 7:05 AM on August 26, 2003


Blue Stone, I got quite excited about the 'record at slower speed' theory, but further down the /. thread others were not. I'm going to work on my new theory of check the place of manufacture of your disks - Japan OK, Taiwan not.
posted by carter at 7:06 AM on August 26, 2003


Anyone else recommend brands as far as how long they last? I've got a few TDKs that have lasted a couple of years, while the Teacs and Memorexes have long since either chipped or gone to shit.
posted by angry modem at 7:22 AM on August 26, 2003


I learned this to my cost when going back to old, carefully-stored CD-Rs after about two or three years. Many were completely unreadable. I heard that it was something to do with the chemical reaction of the plastic in the CD box itself against the surface of the disc??
posted by skylar at 7:22 AM on August 26, 2003


What about the relative longevity of CD-RWs vs. CD-Rs? Or, more to the point now, DVD-Rs and DVD-RWs? Do differences in the chemistry of the reflective layers yield differences in longevity?
posted by stonerose at 7:43 AM on August 26, 2003


Thanks for that carter.

I'm trying not to think about all my Memorex CD-Rs. Still... it's only pr0n and warez.... [laughs nervously]
posted by Blue Stone at 7:44 AM on August 26, 2003


Blue stone, what about the kittens?!
posted by shoepal at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2003


It would indeed be interesting to see how recordable DVDs fare in this sort of test, although it'll probably be at least a couple of years before that data becomes meaningful.
posted by clevershark at 8:08 AM on August 26, 2003


The kittens are not saved to disc. The only place they live is scampering through the fields of my mind.
posted by Blue Stone at 8:32 AM on August 26, 2003


I'm going to work on my new theory of check the place of manufacture of your disks - Japan OK, Taiwan not.

Racist. ;-)
posted by stonerose at 8:35 AM on August 26, 2003


Taiyo Yuden manufactures for Sony, Phillips, HP, TDK, BASF... Identify before you buy.
posted by Dean King at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2003


*Cough* 8-Track *Cough*
posted by bwg at 8:54 AM on August 26, 2003



On a related topic I read about a study a while back that said the longest lasting method for archiving material was good old pen on paper (assuming that digital info stays on its original medium). Sorry, cant seem to find it though.


Not even close. The best method is scratchings on fired clay. It's why we know so much about the accounting of B.C. people and little about their writing. Acounts were kept on clay tablets, because it was cheap, which got fired everytime the business burned down. Manuscripts were kept on paper or skins or linen or reeds and usually never made it pass 100 years.

The oldest writing around is Sumerian on clay tablets from around 3300 BC.
posted by Mitheral at 9:04 AM on August 26, 2003


indeed, signal... i was getting concerned about that 10GB i have from a year or so ago that's packed with mp3s. what to do with that puppy.
posted by djspicerack at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2003


That should be _some_ of the oldest writing around. I hardly did an exhustive study ten years ago and have no idea what they might have found since then.
posted by Mitheral at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2003


Dr_Octavius, Mitheral: If you're talking about information storage and retrieval technologies, writing is a relative new-comer. You can go back to megalithic monuments, which store information related to astronomical alignments and calendrical information related to festivals, agriculture, etc. Of course it's read only, and you have to know how to 'read' the monument. Or you could go even further back to cave paintings, or a scratched bones, etc. While the forms of data these stored are not known, some have speculated that scratched bones (20,000+ years) are lunar calendars.
posted by carter at 9:24 AM on August 26, 2003


Oh and thanks for that tip, Dean King. I just found a board related to testing CD-Rs. Looks techie but useful.
posted by carter at 9:27 AM on August 26, 2003


I had this conversation with the guy behind the counter at Richer Sounds recently. He said that gold CDs used to be good, but are now difficult to get. The acid test, he said was to look through the CD at the sun (not the centre-hole, smart arse). If the sunlight is blocked by the CD silver (or gold) it is a good 'un. A tad difficult to do prior to purchase, he admitted.
He also suggested that the discs which were more expensive had better quality plastic, which tends to scratch less.
'Metalic' discs are purported to have good longevity, although the only ones I have found on sale so far were TDKs at Maplins for £1.80 a hit (90mins), which doesn't compare too well with my generic discs at £0.30 a hit (90mins).
posted by asok at 10:04 AM on August 26, 2003




when the manufacturers claim that the data written on CDs will last centuries, the fact that even a minority number of CDs don't last 20 months is at least worth

...throwing some corporate cocksuckers into prison, no?
posted by quonsar at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2003


study a while back that said the longest lasting method for archiving material was good old pen on paper

When digital cameras were hitting the market read an article pointing out the pros & cons between them and analog cameras. The author gave one pro that made the analog camera worth having, if you want to archive the picture's negatives. All the author said was the analog negatives would store better than digital cds, but never said why. At the time only could think magnetic fields; now, cds can just go bad, good to know.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2003


good old pen on paper

Or 'certain types of ink on acid-free paper' anyway.
posted by clevershark at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2003


CD-Rs go bad? Omigod!! *faints*
posted by ZachsMind at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2003


when the manufacturers claim that the data written on CDs will last centuries
Remember first time heard one skip on the radio, which today is harder, most current cd players have anti-skip technology. But what made it so distinctive, the DJ said, here's a song off a cd(records & tapes were mostly used) and by the way listeners, this new technology makes it impossible to skip and he had walked out of the DJ booth too leaving the song to skip for some time, Dope!
posted by thomcatspike at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2003


could think magnetic fields the cause
posted by thomcatspike at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2003


Blue Stone - But... the kittens!
posted by brownpau at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2003


when the manufacturers claim that the data written on CDs will last centuries

CDs may last a century. CD-Rs are a different technology.
posted by hyperizer at 12:39 PM on August 26, 2003


*wakes up* OMIGAWD! *faints*
posted by ZachsMind at 1:02 PM on August 26, 2003


The National Archives uses quarter-inch magnetic tape on spools for master copies of most (all?) of their electronic records. Of course magnetic tape degrades as well, but (according to NARA) it's much easier to predict when a tape will go bad and transfer the data than it is a CD; data recovery is also much easier.

Seems to me there would be a nice niche market for a special-purpose long-lasting read-only archival electronic medium, one that could be guaranteed to last, say, 200-400 years under the proper conditions.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:48 PM on August 26, 2003


WHEW, it's a good thing that I still have all my stuff on these old scsi drives and not on CDr.
posted by tomplus2 at 3:51 PM on August 26, 2003


Shellac, the Sound of the Future
posted by y2karl at 4:51 PM on August 26, 2003


Wait - even better than shellac, data could just be tattooed directly onto hot headed naked ice borers.
posted by John Smallberries at 8:07 PM on August 26, 2003


I really wish CDR manufacturers would put another layer of plastic on top of the CDR layer. Most CDRs can be permanently destroyed with a fingernail scratch.

I'd pay extra for a durable CDR, especially if it had no brand markings on top.
posted by skallas at 8:52 PM on August 26, 2003


That data on a CD-R, the ones hanging from car rear view mirrors, they last long?
posted by alicesshoe at 8:56 PM on August 26, 2003


Also, before the "naked" CD became the de facto standard there were some interesting and in my opinion superior designs out there. Like the CD in a floppy-like case, the CD in a caddy, and now the DVD in a caddy.

I think as we invest more of our lives into digital technology we'll be seeing more durable CDs in the consumer market, the return of the CD in a case,cheap OEM PCs running RAID, etc.
posted by skallas at 9:07 PM on August 26, 2003


(Ruefully shakes head, looking at the unused half of a TDK spindle clearly marked "made in Taiwan". *Sigh*.)

So, can anyone think of a good use for worthless unused CD-Rs?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 PM on August 26, 2003


spaek to alicesshoe.. (above)
posted by Frasermoo at 5:46 AM on August 27, 2003


spaek?

CURSE YOU CORRUPT DATA !
posted by Frasermoo at 5:46 AM on August 27, 2003


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