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CD-Recordable discs unreadable in less than two years

Posted at 19 August 2003 14:33 CET by G@M3FR3@K
The Dutch PC-Active magazine has done an extensive CD-R quality test. For the test the magazine has taken a look at the readability of discs, thirty different CD-R brands, that were recorded twenty months ago. The results were quite shocking as a lot of the discs simply couldn't be read anymore: Roughly translated from Dutch: The tests showed that a number of CD-Rs had become completely unreadable while others could only be read back partially. Data that was recorded 20 months ago had become unreadable. These included discs of well known and lesser known manufacturers. It is presumed that CD-Rs are good for at least 10 years. Some manufacturers even claim that their CD-Rs will last up to a century. From our tests it's concluded however that there is a lot of junk on the market. We came across CD-Rs that should never have been released to the market. It's completely unacceptable that CD-Rs become unusable in less than two years. On the image you can see the exact same CD-R. On the left you see the outcome of our tests done in 2001. On the right you see the same CD-R in 2003. The colours indicate the severeness of the errors in the following order; white, green, yellow and red whereas white indicates that the disc can be read well and red indicates that it cannot be read. For those of you who are interested, the original Dutch article can be found here and in the September issue of PC-Active. Please discuss this subject in our Media Forum.

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There are 21 comments

Waiting on Activation
Posted on: 19 Aug 03 15:00
    interesting... I've not yet had any sort of problem and I've discs over 5 years old. They make it sound like that's impossible.
    CD Freaks Senior Member
    Posted on: 19 Aug 03 15:07
      On the other hand I have discs with music on them that have deteriorated in under a year They are kept in a cd wallet in my auto so the heat and cold are factors no doubt. I am sure it is the disks and not the player as the dropouts and skips that have developed in some are in the same place at every playing ... and new ones show up regularly now on the older ones. Guess I'll have to make backups of my backups
      CD Freaks Senior Member
      Posted on: 19 Aug 03 16:04
        I keep two backups of every backup disc I have. As soon as I notice one go back I have the second one to replace the one that went bad. It's highly unlikely that both would go bad at the same time. But I've never had one go bad yet. I have had CD Rewritables go back on me though. They seem to last even shorter.
        CD Freaks Member
        Posted on: 19 Aug 03 19:00
          I don't speak Dutch. Do they mention how they stored these discs and under what conditions?
          Posted on: 19 Aug 03 19:09
            Yes, they say they have stored them in a closed cabinet for two years in their original packaging.
            CD Freaks Senior Member
            Posted on: 19 Aug 03 19:26
              i've got princos that are over two years old easily, kept in somewhat humid conditions too. still in perfect condition
              CD Freaks Junior Member
              Posted on: 20 Aug 03 07:36
                Just checked 2 CDs from 1998 - no errors.I used CDCheck. Anyone know which software they used? I use the cheapest media that will burn at my writers top speed, usually generic brands such as Silverline, GPT etc.
                CD Freaks Media Expert
                Posted on: 20 Aug 03 10:34
                  Software they went the hardware way. They used a high speed cd analyzer CDA-3000 from cd associates. (these things are used for fast checking disc quality in some production factories.)
                  CD Freaks Junior Member
                  Posted on: 20 Aug 03 11:20
                    I have an impression that 'older (sat 2x, 4x maybe 8x) CDs, were more stable; while newer (higher speed) CDs are less reliable over longer time periods. This is mostly simply my expereince...not based on any formal studay...
                    Waiting on Activation
                    Posted on: 20 Aug 03 16:22
                      They are partly correct. I've noticed the awfully low quality of AUDIO CDs: although I am not listening to my originals as i've ripped 'em to MP3s, they kept degrading even stored in perfect conditions... ...And speaking of data CDs, well, all Cds inscribed as Delphi or DVision went unreadable (totally or partially) within one year; that's why I stopped buying that crap.
                      NHJ BV
                      CD Freaks Junior Member
                      Posted on: 20 Aug 03 18:05
                        BTW, today I saw an article/ad/statement from Kruidvat (brand of the disc seen in the image) that some discs produced in 2001 were faulty and that you could send them somewhere to have the data recovered for free (if possible). The newspaper was the Volkskrant, but it probably appeared in other Dutch newspapers as well. It's on the third page of todays (20-8) Volkskrant.
                        New on Forum
                        Posted on: 23 Aug 03 21:41
                          Hay I have A 2 CDs Samsung CDR-74S 650mb/74min they were burnt with 2 speed max since 1999 with some old stuff and to work great... actuley it was fun to find these old stuff
                          New on Forum
                          Posted on: 25 Aug 03 18:15
                            What I find interesting is the majority of the comments are related to music CDs, many of which are comprised of data of rather limited value, available relatively easily to replace. I think the greater concern is for business, scientific, research or other data and information being placed on CD-R discs and the fact that manufacturers routinely provide a "warranty statement" that the media will last for 10 years or longer. Users need to read one line farther in this statement to understand that the manufacturer's warranty is limited to the cost of replacement of the media alone, and even that is limited by your ability to prove that the media was stored "under optimal conditions". My understanding of the intent of this article was that it highlights that it's critical to have a migration strategy for the most critical of data being stored on digital media, and that the media is properly stored and periodically reviewed for any signs of degradation, especially if the data stored is subject to long term retention requirements. Larry :B
                            No longer with us
                            Posted on: 18 Jul 07 18:52
                              My oldest backup CD-Rs are from late 1998, both still work perfectly fine. Those happen to be Sony. I also have a "generic" CD-R from around 1999, that one has problems and is mostly unreadable now. I guess you get what you pay for when it comes to storage.
                              No longer with us
                              Posted on: 12 Sep 07 03:57
                                same problem here my room is 29c to 35c sometimes 38c in temperature and is humid and I have several CDr that have tiny holes growing from it. some less than 1 year some of the CDs are BENQ, IMATION, ARITA, & a few under CDr-King but some of the good brads like TDK, CD-LINK,VERBATIM lasted much longer infact CD-Link lasted from (97- present ) still readable but the programs is not compatible with vista
                                No longer with us
                                Posted on: 03 Oct 07 21:16
                                  I have purchased CDs that have "evaporated" while stored in the case. I'm transferring (as fast as I can) to hard drive most of my collections. This medium will last longer than the temporary CD/DVD medium (I hope).
                                  No longer with us
                                  Posted on: 26 Feb 08 20:38
                                    I still play vinly lp's that are almost 40 years old and still sound excellent....I guess new isn't always better
                                    No longer with us
                                    Posted on: 16 Mar 08 12:39
                                      National Arhive of Serbia have problem with CD who old 6 and more years. They tell that discs who older of 6 year can't read...
                                      No longer with us
                                      Posted on: 21 Aug 08 18:06
                                        I did a project at work that required going back into our disc archives and when I saw how many discs were unreadable we bought a 2 TB drive to recover what we could. We're in the middle of transfer from CD/DVD to hard disk and are averaging 20% failure. Worse, Imation discs that are only three years old are failing at 75%! I've had some luck using ddrescue on our Macs to recover files, but it takes at least 8 hours to run one CD, so that'll be a long-term project.
                                        No longer with us
                                        Posted on: 23 Mar 09 03:59
                                          I have cassette tapes that are still good & recorded to cd's that are bad. Can these be put on a flash drive or something else for safe storage?
                                          Andrew P.
                                          New on Forum
                                          Posted on: 25 May 09 20:03
                                            There are discussions on and elsewhere of tests performed several years after this article was posted, comparing various brands of CD-R discs. Reportedly, genuine Taiyo Yuden brand discs perform best and yield the best results in long-term storage. Taiyo Yuden Co., Ltd., is the originator of the CD-R, when Philips and Sony were developing the technology in the mid-1980's. They were the first and are, apparently, still the best. Taiyo Yuden discs are available under the Taiyo Yuden brand, as well as rebranded for other companies. Also, because of Taiyo Yuden's reputation, there are counterfeits on the market, most of which embed the Taiyo Yuden code on the disc, so your burner improperly uses Taiyo Yuden parameters during the recording process, resulting in high error rates, even if the recording appears to be successful. There are a few sellers that guarantee that their Taiyo Yuden brand discs are genuine. You pay more for them, but it may be worth it for data you want to store for ten years, or longer. I've been using the genuine CD-R discs for a few years now to archive photos and audio recordings of family members, and storing them in low humidity and moderate temperature, but it's too early to tell if I'll be able to retrieve them after ten years. Floppy disc magnetic data evaporate after a while, and the mechanical and electronic components of hard drives fail from aging effects in 5-10 years, so I don't consider either of them viable as archival storage. What's left? Punched Mylar tape for data, vinyl LP records for audio and silver halide images on acid-free paper or glass plates for photos. Seriously, it looks like we are making rapid strides backwards in our quest to preserve history.

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