Maybe you are right! But wait some years and time will tell us!
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I endorse everything that Barry says, but one important aspect is original disc quality. It is very bad practice to use cheap, unbranded discs. Many are produced in the far east underanything but ideal conditions. They may be OK for grabbing the latest pop recording, but not for anything serious.
Use named brands only and try to seek those that use a gold reflective layer. The problem with other materials - silver/aluminium - is that they can and do corrode over time.
Remember that the dyes used in recordable CDs are light sensitive. If you leave them lying around on the desk don't expect them to have a long life.Store them in the dark.
Peter A of Argyll, Scotland
Thanks for the comprehensive explanation about storage life. This has now got me worried as I have just devised a system to keep all my photographs on CD-RWs! Do you think this is foolish and should I start again and only use CD-Rs?
I find the difference between the two confusing anyway - although I am an experienced computer user and storer of data (having used computers since the early 1980s!) I fear I am losing the plot(!) as I cannot seem to get a grip of the differences of erasure/storage/usage of these two seemingly same looking but different abilities type media! - if you get my meaning! (maybe it's my age!!)
This website is superb and a great help - thanks to all the contributors who write far more intelligently than I do here!
You can definately burn normal computer data to "Music" CDRs. In fact, I recommend that this be done. Most CDRs made these days are terribly low quality, and I doubt that they would keep data intact for longer than a couple of years.
However, these Music CDRs (and earlier data CDs - up to 8x) use particular dyes that simply will not fade, and are also much more compatible with CD drives.
My computer has trouble reading some CDRs. The older ones read fine. The recent data ones don't read/have many errors. But the music ones always work well.
Many recent CDRs also need to be cooled down after burning before you can reliably read the data on them. Good quality CDs and Music CDs either don't need to be cooled, or they come out of the burner at room temperature.
Reading your response it makes perfect sense.
However, now I'm concerned how we will know (from blank CD/DVD purchase to another) what the quality of the CD/DVD may be? (I donl't trust sales claims.)
There appears to be a NEED on the CD/DVD for a data meter - like the outside edge track that would be used for burn testing allowing drives to test and set the best exposure write speed for that CD/DVD media to give us the longest data retention time possible. Is this not a CD/DVD industry concern? Or due to user ignorance and increased CD/DVD costs the industry is not creating solutions to fading?
There appears to be a NEED on the CD/DVD for a visual indication FADING meter - allowing a user to know when the CD/DVD is getting close to loosing data and that data transfer is required soon or suffer data loss on that CD/DVD. Without some visual meter we are all gambling with our data with Vegas odds (the house being data loss).
Since we users do not know better and do not want to waste time infront of our CD/DVD burners the solution to this problem needs to be in the actual media and or software burning programs.
Short of a change to CD/DVD the only other interum solution is a software program that tests & measures a burned CD/DVD for uniformity - indicating consistance of the burn? And measure the over/under/optimal burn exposure for that particualr CD/DVD that could be equated to potential data life remaining on that CD/DVD. Is there such a program?
We have learned valuable lessons of the lifetime of CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Great posts.
What about hard disks? Now that those excternal HDs cost under a dollar per gigabyte, it is attempting to use them - rather than CDs - as the final and permanent storage medium for all personal data.
My 25-year old 1.4 MB diskettes still worked fine when I copied some of them to a HD last year. But will my HD last that long?
I've got about 4 HDs that are propbably a good 15-25 yrs old right now which work beautifully. (Old drives... of the mb and kb variety.) I also have some that dont anymore. I'd say it all depends on the individual drives. I think its Seagates and Western Digitals that I've seen work after all these years. Not a guarantee by any means though.
Its kind of like asking "How long should mt TV last?" When we have a 20yr old RCA that still works, but a 5yr old RCA that already lost the sound.
But yeah..... it is possible for HDs to last for 15yrs or more.
I've know of old 386 hard drives that are still in business and brand new drives that are dead.
I suspect that newer drives are never likely to last as long as the older drives, due to the following reasons:
1. Newer drives have much faster spindle speeds, stressing the metal components more.
2. Newer drives typicaly have more moving parts, more heads, more platters etc than older drives.
3. Most new drives tend to generate a lot more heat than older drives.
The factors above are mitigated somewhat by improvements in technology over the years, but for the most part its still the same basic technology.
The biggest killer of hard drives without a doubt is heat.
The 386 ran pretty cool and generally didn't have its cases packed with other components generating a lot of heat, such as high-end graphics cards.
A modern PC in contrast can be a hostile environment even if you do have a ton of fans buzzing away.
The best things you can do to safeguard data on a hard disk are:
1. Pick a good brand Seagate, Western Digital etc.
( Not maxtor ), the Hitachi Deskstar (formerly the IBM Deskstar) has a fantastic reputation for speed although there have also been a number of reported cases of some models dying ( I've had one die on me ).
2. Do everything you can to protect it from extreams.
In the case of an internal drive ensure your PC has good airflow inside the case and consider fitting a hard drive cooler.
In the case of an external drive, keep it out of direct sunlight and again make sure there is suitable ventilation.
3. Monitor the health of your hard disk. There a number of tools that will let you do this, the best is probably http://www.hddlife.com/
all my drives are maxtors....i think they work well but the oldest one is only about a year old...
what gos wrong with maxtors? are they made not as well or what? i have ALL the music i ever owned on the 300gig drive...and i want to keep it my entire life...can the maxtors be trusted and will they last ??
or should i back it up befor anything happens...
i allways thought maxtor was good...but do they have a bad reputation?
How about probably the biggest factor. CD-r that are burned with music and left in hot cars in the summertime? I have a number of music cd-r's that are slowly dying. It seems the advise about burning to 80-90% capacity might be advisable also, since the cd's play fine until the last few tracks. The cd's that fail sound like poor fm reception with static and sometimes stuttering.
You got it all correct; but I differ with the labeling comments. This is where quality becomes important. As you described the front side is plastic, then comes the dye followed by the reflective film then a layer of laquer (or similar) which is the label side. If the label side is just a thin laquer coating keeping the reflective film in place you can have a problem.
I had some inexpensive CD's that literally peeled upon minor flexing or light scratching. Because of that I actually destroyed numerous manufacturers CD's to see if there were differences. Yep, name brands hold up quite well. Anyway back to labeling. There are numerous CD's available that have an extra coating on them (some appear to be a silkscreened white mattes surface) so that you can write or print on them. This exrea caoting is more than enough protection from inks in you r marking pen or printer. The volatile solvents "carrying" the pigment are what can dissolve the laquer layer and potentially allow oxidation of the reflective film. Once the solvent has evaporated the ink pigments (or dyes) will be essentially stable.Water based inks would be the safest to use, but then the inks won't be as long-lasting and may fade away.
Stick on labels could potentially be a problem depending on the adhesive being used. But I doubt it. If anything the label would add a layer of protection to the laquer side.
Remeber the CD "dyes" are covered by the reflective film then the "laquer". The film has to be compromised to affect the dye.
Personally, I knew about the dye in permanent inks seeping through the label to the data a long, long time ago.
I don't care...
I take care to keep a fresh copy of anything truly critical in more than one place.
Anything else I consider disposable. My favourite music, my family photos, etc... I update them every once in a while onto new media, but nothing is truly permanent as a storage solution.
If I lose all of this personal data I will likely be sad, but not beaten. I'll simply collect again and hope that the storage system in my brain doesn't fall victim to Alzheimer's disease.
What I do, and with great success (so far) is to buy the little labels that you would use on a file folder, write on the label, the put the label on the CD case, and ensure that the CD that came out of case 1, goes into case 1 when not needed. This way the cases are labeled rather than the media itself.
Quote: ''What I do, and with great success (so far) is to buy the little labels that you would use on a file folder, write on the label, the put the label on the CD case, and ensure that the CD that came out of case 1, goes into case 1 when not needed. This way the cases are labeled rather than the media itself.''
What you can do to further protect your sanity (should a mixup occur) Is to mark the discs like Barry said, using the internal hub section, and use a numeric or alphanumeric key to match the disc to the case. If you want to take it a step further, create a spreadsheet (and print it) or paper list of disc #s and contents (should anything happen to the case).
For professionals and the extra-cautious (like me) this may be a better way to go.
We were all led to belive that recordable media will last for 50 yrs.
Yes, physically, but the data on them?
These companies producing CD-r's should be sued.
We must start a class action against these companies.
When I originally recorded my photos about 5yrs ago, the data looked fine, for about a year or two, but then I could not read from some of them.
Since then I changed my recorders for newer, faster, DVD-CDR-W, Double-sided and Lightscribe capable.
How can I be sure that these recordings will last?
When we were sold on CD-R recorders, we were told that magnetic tape will loose the data within 10-to-20yrs, but the CD-R's will last forever.
Now we are told that the best tmedia to preserve digital recordings is tape again?
So, where is the truth?
I'm totally desgusted about this whole issue.
I have had some problems with burned disks, but not very many. By far, my most frustrating one is the least problematic. I create video DVDs on my Windows 2000 computer, from my Sony Digital8 camcorder and then make many copies for our family members. They like seeing our grandkids progress.
Several of the DVDs will not be readable on the burner drive, where they were created... a Plextor PX708UF. I put the same unreadable DVD on my Mac Powerbook with 4x Superdrive, and it plays the movie perfectly. I can also play it on my Sony DVD player in the living room. But the Windows/Plextor won't even see the DVD until I play it substantially through in purely play mode on another machine. Then the Windows machine will see it.
I can make a copy of the unreadable disk on my Mac, and the copy appears and plays on my Windows 2000 computer, from where the copy originated... grrr. But as I say above, after playing almost all the way through, the original DVD is suddenly readable, on the Windows computer in some cases. I can also make a copy of it, then. Frustrating!
This problem also applies to some of my data backup DVDs.
I'm wondering if the reader laser is somehow altering the dye on the disk enough to make it readable on the Win computer? I burn DVDs on the Win computer with Nero 6 Ultra, in most cases. Never had a problem with the Mac burning DVDs, when I use the iMovie/iDVD combo.
I have not had good luck with DVD+R's, most especially with video, and to a lesser degree with data. So I use only Maxell DVD-R for most of my burning, as well as any reputable brand name CD-R for music disks. I never use RW media for anything.
Anyone have a suggestion?
Still this was a great question and answer.
I have some old 5.25 floppys I can still read and write the data from and I have some 1yr 1.44 floppies that are junk and brand new. Old hard disk are the same thing I have a DOS PC(386) it's drives are running and I can read/write to them fine, but the CD drive is dead. I've had new hard drives fail out of the box or within 6 mos.
Even the USB storage drives die or become unreadable, so there no such thing as a perfect long lasting media for any purpose, so that why a good 2 or 3 media types backup to plan is the was to go.