CD-Rs Have a Maximum Life of 5 Years?

Computerworld has an odd article warning about the dangers of data on CD-R being unrecoverable after just 5 years,

“Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the CD,” Gerecke said in an interview this week. “There are a few things you can do to extend the life of a burned CD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark space, but not a whole lot more.”

Um, no. I started backing up my data on CD-R back in 1996. A couple years ago I copied all those backups to a hard drive and then burned them back to DVD-R. Out of about a thousand CD-Rs, only about 10-15 had any data loss, and those were ones that my kids or cats had gotten hold of.

Which is not to say that I’d recommend leaving crucial data on just one or two sets of writable optical media. Converting existing optical media to the latest format every 5-10 years is highly advisable, plus it generally results in fewer discs to store — I can’t wait to transfer all my DVD+-Rs to BluRay/HD-DVD if simply to reduce the sheer volume of discs I’m storing (literally thousands at the moment).


Storage expert warns of short life span for burned CDs. John Blau, Computerworld, January 10, 2006.

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