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Permanent markers on CD's

by jam4201 / June 29, 2005 6:07 AM PDT

I read somewhere NOT to use permanent markers to write on CD's because after some time it will eat through the CD and ruin your data/pics. Does anyone know if this is true? Please tell me it isn't true! :o)

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My 8 year olds...
by FrankQTran / June 29, 2005 6:24 AM PDT

CD with the marker written on it still alive.

Where did you read/find that article?


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Your government $ at work....
by Dick White / June 29, 2005 6:30 AM PDT

The National Institute of Standards has published a useful guide.

Note #2 in the DO list - use a non-solvent based felt tip pen. The MagicMarker brand, for example, is solvent based. It will, over time, degrade the plastic possibly leading to ruination of the metallic core. The Sharpie brand, for example, is non-solvent based. There may be others.

I only use a Sharpie brand marker. I buy the super-paks of 5 or 10 markers and leave them all over the house so I will be able to find one quickly no matter what room I am in.

Only slightly off your original question... Note #3 in the DON'T list - don't use those Neato stickon paper labels for any CD disk you want to keep. Over a long period of time, the adhesive on the label will degrade the plastic of the disk.


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permanent markers
by jam4201 / June 29, 2005 10:34 AM PDT

Guess I'll be getting the Sharpies! After I read the article in our newspaper I burned all my cd's again, this time using Avery Labels. Is that the wrong kind of label also? I'll just burn them again if I have to. :o) I sure don't want to lose these pictures. Thanks guys.

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by stewart6 / June 29, 2005 10:57 AM PDT
In reply to: permanent markers

I agree with all of the above. you can buy a marker pen for CDs for a couple of dollars. Labels are not only likely to degrade your CD but they can also wreck your CD player. These disks spin at incredible speed and can cause the label to be jettisoned into the bowels of your player.
Another golden rule don't let a ballpoint get anywhere near to your CDs as the pressure can kill the disk.

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by Dick White / June 29, 2005 12:18 PM PDT
In reply to: Agreed

and regarding the labels - Avery, Neato, all the same. It's the glue.


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Label and Sharpie
by denjones / June 29, 2005 12:26 PM PDT
In reply to: yup...

If you're set on using labels, put the label on the jewelry case and use a Sharpie on the CD. If the pictures are that precious, have multiple copies.

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Marking your disks
by Fi0S-Dave / July 1, 2005 4:07 PM PDT

Bite the bullet and buy a LightScribe drive!
The prices are coming down as more manufacturers jump on the bandwagon. With these drives (and the proper disks, which cost a bit more at present) there is no need for markers or labels! The LASER does the writing for you! Although you only get greyscale at present, you can write beautiful graphics as well as text, using any font and any graphic image you want!
It takes a bit of time to write the "label" side of the disk, so don't use it for "throwaways."
I am enjoying the very professional look of these disks!


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by EmporerEJ / July 1, 2005 5:28 PM PDT

I call Bullcrap on this entire topic.

Sow me one confirmed example of these ''degraded Discs?''
The only way the marker will Burn through the top of the disc, through the metal layer, and damage the pitted side is with a soldering Iron.

Again I say, show me ONE, just ONE example.
In the time these discs will degrade naturally, the medium would never be technologically readable.
They said the same thing about floppies....''Oh, they'll wear out!''

Show me ANYONE still using floppies for important data storage.

It's all Crap.

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by marcycn / July 5, 2005 9:35 AM PDT
In reply to: BullCrap

My Ex is still in the dark ages - uses floppies to back up his tax customers info and refuses to use the Internet - it's not safe. Happy That's one reason why he's my ex!

Some people just refuse to graduate into the new era and then the rest of us are all for the latest gadgets.

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Certainly not
by djjimmyjazz / July 5, 2005 12:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Floppies

For sure floppies are outdated for mass-media storage, but for pure computer and computer-like devices they are alive and well. I am in the show production industry and many of the professional grade lighting consoles use foppies for a variety of tasks - everything from saving shows to console operating systems to moving-light personalities.

For pure professionals, floppies will never die.

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ever heard about this
by jeniesis1 / July 15, 2005 8:31 PM PDT
In reply to: Certainly not

usb flash drives. but i admire nostlagia. Wink

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I have discs degraded by label glue
by Mgradyc / July 13, 2005 4:58 PM PDT
In reply to: BullCrap

Back when I ripped my 600+ CD collection to mp3 I made two sets (about 50 CD-rs each set) of mp3 data discs. One to be stored as an archive set and one to travel with me as I was on the road about 300 days a year. I listened to them on a CD/mp3 player, as HD mp3 players at the time didn't have near the capacity to store the entire collection and my laptop then only had a 20GB HD. The archive set I marked with Sharpies. The travel set I made adhesive labels for, with artist & album info and album cover art. During the label making process, some of the labels had minor mistakes printed on them (like the album cover art images weren't in the same order on the label as the files for each album were on the disc). Two of those labels were already applied to the discs before the mistakes were discovered. For those two discs, I stored the ones with mis-printed labels as the archive copies and made corrected labels which I placed on the discs marked with Sharpies and put them in the travel set. Both sets used the same brand of blank media from two 50-packs purchased at the same time. Since I burned two copies of each disc as I went along, the first package of blanks were used for both the archive and travel copies of the first 25 discs in each set, and the second package provided the blanks for the second group of archives and masters in the set. The archive set has been stored in a dark, cool, dry place since that time, except for when I sometimes needed to copy a replacement disc for a damaged one in the travel set (usually due to scratches from dust and vibration, etc... or so I thought).
Recently I acquired a 160GB external Hard Drive and decided to transfer all the data files from the archive set onto the HD. Guess which discs were the only two in the entire archive set to experience read errors during the transfer? Just as most reports on the subject have noted, the data near the edge of the discs was the most degraded. Even when slowing the CD reader down to 1x, several of the final tracks on those two discs were unreadable, and I had to re-rip from the original CD's to complete the collection on my HD. I then checked randomly selected discs from the travel set (all with labels) that I don't use much anymore since my job now doesn't require the travel and found a good number of them with read errors near the edge also. While sunlight, humidity, scratches etc... may be used to explain the problems with the travel set, the two discs with adhesive labels in the archive set were never exposed to any of those environmental factors. The ONLY difference between those two and the other archived discs were the adhesive labels.

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"Quality" counts too'
by Cursorcowboy / July 13, 2005 11:11 PM PDT

Be familiar with CD Media World's information,"CD-R Quality" and make a good choice of material used.

The gold-colored CD-R uses the PhthaloCyanine pigment and a gold reflection layer. As the pigment is transparent, the golden reflection layer shines through the bottom side giving the `golden' look. Compared to the other colored media, the reflection contrast of the golden medium is the highest and the durability of such CD-R's is said to be over 100 years. As the golden medium's reflective property is the highest, if your friends or customers have problems reading data from any other burnt media, try using the gold medium CD-R.

Brand Factory Quality Misc

Imation Taiyo Yuden Good
Kodak Kodak Good
Philips Gold Kodak Good
TraxData Gold Kodak Good
Philips Silver Taiyo Yuden Good
Ricoh Premium Ricoh Good
Sony Taiyo Yuden Good
NoName Mitsubishi Mitsubishi Medium
Ricoh Standard Ricoh Medium
That's Taiyo Yuden Medium
Arita Ritek Bad
Philips IQ Silver Ritek Bad Problems writing the "aged" CD-R's
TraxData Silver Ritek Bad
NoName Ritek Ritek Bad
FujiFilm Ritek Bad Problems writing the "aged" CD-R's
NoName Fornet Fornet Bad

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Great Info
by bewitched9 / July 14, 2005 7:02 PM PDT
In reply to: "Quality" counts too'

Thank you for the great information. There is a lot of confusion in determining the most reliable media to write to. This site really helped.

Do you know whether or not the information also applies to DVDs ?


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by bewitched9 / July 14, 2005 7:04 PM PDT
In reply to: "Quality" counts too'

What about lightscribe CD/DVD's

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"Quality" counts re: information as well
by Mgradyc / July 15, 2005 7:01 AM PDT
In reply to: "Quality" counts too'

I fully agree that the quality of blank media plays an important role. Your post, and the link included, does provide a lot of good information. But one must be careful not to place too much creedance in the manufacturers code in the ATIP region, as it only indicates the manufacturer of the original stamper used to make the disc, not the manufacturer of the disc itself.

See for more info.

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BullCrap - for label adhesives
by Themisive / July 14, 2005 4:21 AM PDT
In reply to: BullCrap

I've been burning and labeling CD-R's and DVD-R's for a good while now, and I have NEVER heard or even experienced the label adhesive degrading disks, and I tend to use bulk-pak disks because of the number I do!

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slow and sure...
by Dick White / July 14, 2005 4:48 AM PDT

The degradation is very slow and not easily noticed, so it won't show up for several years, and even then the error correction in the CD data encoding algorithm may resolve the errors in the early stages of degradation. Even the small amounts of alcohol and acetone solvents used in some markers and label adhesives will interact with the plastic and migrate through the layer over a period of years. If you are writing disks for near-term use, fine. But for long term archival storage of important data, don't use adhesive labels or solvent-based inks.

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Re Labling CD's
by limpinghawk / July 16, 2005 2:32 AM PDT
In reply to: BullCrap

I Have to agree w/Mr. White. I've used a Sharpie on all of my Disks for 7 yrs. and not one has shown any sighs degrading or loss of data.

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by hazardDigital / May 7, 2010 5:52 AM PDT
In reply to: BullCrap

I cannot confirm if it still happens with CDs.
But back in 2001 I recall this happening to me a few times.
After the marker is on the CD for a while the shiny concentric circle pattern on the bottom of the disk starts to become all wobbly looking.

You eventually get this "Oil Spill" looking pattern all over the bottom of the disk. After that, parts of the top of the disk will begin to flake off. But the disk is unreadable long before the flaking begins.

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stale link
by unb0b / January 30, 2016 1:38 PM PST

Now at

And perhaps enough time has passed for some of the Sharpie users in the crowd to have some bits eaten out of their CDs. Except they won't notice, because all their music and photos are in the cloud now, in storage operated by large-corporations-I-would-not-trust.

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by Mr. Roboto / June 29, 2005 1:29 PM PDT
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Lightscribe.....which one to choose?
by bewitched9 / July 2, 2005 12:10 AM PDT
In reply to: Lightscribe

Have the lightscribe products been rated? Pretty expensive still. Not sure which one to go for (if any). Familiar with HP & Lacie Products. Not sure about "Sager or BenQ.


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wax marker
by ksohnfoster / July 1, 2005 1:25 AM PDT

my brother, who helped design computers at Apple for 10 years (I consider him my computer angel), uses wax markers for writing on his CDs. Don't know why he chooses to use them, I just figure he must know what he's doing.

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Magic marks sure but....
by Seacoaster / July 1, 2005 3:10 AM PDT

Magic markers are so so messy, sharpies con't look much better unless your going for that "look"
I ve found the Casio CD-50 thermal printer does a very nice job of lable making.
The end result is more "factory pressed" looking than anything else.
The fallback is, that you must use silver/silver cdrs/dvds. The blanks have aboslutly no manufacture marks on them to interfere with the print out. Hardly a fallback. The blanks are generally available online.

The main reason for data loss on my cdrs has been: sunlight, as destructive as stepping on it, or printing the lable on a manual typewriter, lol

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Labeling CD's
by baddog6915 / July 2, 2005 2:06 AM PDT

I fully recommend using Sharpies. I stopped using the press on labels because they can peel off with humidity. I have been using Sharpies and keep them at all of my computers and I also carry one with my laptop. I have discs from six years marked with Sharpies and there is not any degradation.

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Non-Permanent Markers for CD-RW's?
by avocet / July 14, 2005 4:07 AM PDT
In reply to: Labeling CD's

What can I use to write on a CD-RW disc that is non-permanent and easily removed?

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Try a...
by Dick White / July 14, 2005 4:41 AM PDT

water based write-on/wipe-off marker for one of those shiny white noteboards. It likely won't erase with the same little felt block used on the whiteboard, but a quick wipe with a dampened tissue should dissolve the marking. But "easily removed" is going to be the same as "easily smudged and now unreadable"...


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Try a...
by Themisive / July 14, 2005 4:44 AM PDT
In reply to: Try a...

Cotton bud moistened with surgical spirit, it'll dissolve permanent markers no trouble, but you'll have to keep cleaning for a while to get rid of all the marker, then just let it dry off

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ah, but....
by Dick White / July 14, 2005 5:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Try a...

that's exactly the issue here. The spirits, or alcohol, is incompatible with the plastic layer of the disk. Despite your best efforts, some of that alcohol will penetrate the surface of the plastic and slowly but surely migrate through the plastic, softening it as it goes. When it finally reaches the reflective film layer and distorts it, the data will be corrupted. It may take years, so you risk losing important information on archived media, but short term uses are probably never going to be affected.


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