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How many times can you rewrite a CD-RW?

by rnauth1418 / January 4, 2010 1:43 AM PST

Does anyone know how many times you can reliably rewrite a CD-RW, and for that matter a DVD-RW?

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The real question is how many ERASE CYCLES.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2010 2:16 AM PST

Your answer varies with the make but the erase cycles is for most this number -> 1000.

Now the problem is that with WEAR LEVELING you will get more than 1,000 file writes. This means you can't use that as a counter.

-> But let's get down to brass tacks. Are you backing up what you can't lose? I find folk that use RW media and forget that it can fail well before its time. To add more pain, such use is rarely compatible across machines.

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by rnauth1418 / January 4, 2010 2:39 AM PST

Thanks. I definitely will not be using them for backup purposes, but I was planning on using it one as a bootable cd for linux. This way, once a new version comes out I can simply rewrite the disk and have an updated version.
I have never worked with rewritables before, so I do not even know if this is a solid idea... Thanks for your help.

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Why I stopped using RW media for boot disks.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2010 3:16 AM PST
In reply to: thanks

As drive age they lose the ability to boot from RW media first, then R and in the final stages no media works. Since I use linux boot CDRs to diagnose or to recover files from problematic machines I need to get the best media I can for the task.

So I'll use CDR plus I'll record at 2X to give it the best chance of running on the most machines.

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makes sense, kind of
by rnauth1418 / January 4, 2010 3:35 AM PST

I understand why there would be a compatibility issue, but what I do not understand is the "selective" failure of the drive based on complexity of the media... Is there any technical reason this is the case, or is this just personal experience?

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Yes there is a technical reason.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2010 9:45 AM PST
In reply to: makes sense, kind of

There are tomes written about how CD, CDR and CDRW media works and how it is read. And in that order it is easy to harder to read. EXAMPLE at

Sorry but this area is full of information ready to be found but use what works for you. For me I need the what will most likely work in an old machine.

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I understand that
by rnauth1418 / January 4, 2010 10:42 PM PST

I understand why one would do that and it completely makes sense for a backup purpose or if you were loading a paid for O.S. However, I am simply loading linux onto the computer so if I can get a years worth of reliability out of it I will be more than happy. Thanks for the info!

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To get years of reliability.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 4, 2010 11:02 PM PST
In reply to: I understand that

We can't escape the need for a backup. Your post doesn't write but alludes to an idea that CDR media is expensive. Here it's dropped to a dime or less. While I have a few CDRW the lower speed and the fact it can fail to work on other machines has me spend the dime.

And if I figure I use that CD for about a year (I don't update my linux boot CD often) the amortized cost is under a penny a month.

Hope this answers all your questions.

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by rnauth1418 / January 5, 2010 12:31 AM PST

I was jsut wondering about the longevity of the disc as a piece of viable media. In no way do i think CD-R's are expensive. I just bought 100 for $10. ( $.10 per disc)

I dont see how I alluded to anything about pricing. I dont mind spending a few extra dollars for reliability. As such, I have a backup solution that includes imaged copies of all eight of my computers on at least 2 hardrives each and also CD/DVD backups of all my data.

And the reason I want to use a cd-rw for a linux boot is because it often takes several installs to get everything working properly. I like to test new hardware with linux and I often crash many systems. So its nice to be able to modify the install disc and reinstall. This way I'm not wasting media (helps the environment).

But yes I appreciate the info you posted, Thanks!

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PS. FAR MORE THAN 50 rewrites here.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / January 5, 2010 2:35 AM PST
In reply to: well

I have some old CDRW media that is from before 2000. Maybe 1995. Still works after untold erasures.

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by rnauth1418 / January 5, 2010 2:50 AM PST

This is sounding more and more promising with each post. I appreciate the input!

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Here are my experience with them;
by ahtoi / January 5, 2010 2:05 AM PST

I don't think you can put a number to them. I been using them for more then a year now (like vcr tapes). I don't keep track but I write about 3 discs a day. I just keep using them until it start to write with error or problem (for what reasons..I don't know). In all these time, I have maybe threw away about 10-15 discs. If I want to put a guess-timate number, on average, how about 50 rewrites.

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very interesting
by rnauth1418 / January 5, 2010 2:31 AM PST

Its good to hear some real world experience with the rewrite limit. I was thinking that was the case. I can imagine under ideal conditions you may be able to get a couple hundred rewrites but I cant imagine much more. In any case, I am only looking to rewrite it about 10-20 times... nothing really more..

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never got that far
by porsche10x / January 24, 2010 4:14 AM PST

I find that my media, both R's and RW's become unusable from physical damage long before they fail from end-of-life or re-write limits. Then again, I have kids.

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Rewritables for ephemera only
by Razzl / February 8, 2010 11:13 PM PST

There was a lot of discussion when rewritable discs came out about the poor quality of some of the materials and the high likelihood of data loss from ink and glue decay. I'm sure newer rewritables are better, but since there's always that question hanging out there of whether the "softer" materials of the rewritables will lose data through natural degradation, it just seems like a bad idea to use them for anything critical or anything that needs to be archived--which makes me dubious about using them at all. Perhaps for stored movies or tv shows where you expect to do a lot of taping and erasing and the data loss is not critical...

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