How long do writable CD/DVD last? 400 discs put to the test!

It is a well known fact that the CD-R’s and DVD-R’s that you burn at home won’t last forever (neither does factory made media, for that matter, but that’s another story). Exactly how long is impossible to answer. It depends on the quality of the disc and how it has been stored. But the CD-burner and (as we shall see) the CD-reader matters as well. The tricky part is that you can never really tell the condition of a disc until you try to read it. And by then, it might be too late.

This article details my experience of copying more than 400 discs, ages varying from 3 up to 14 years old. First a bit of background. Over the years I’ve managed to collect a rather large amount of music, video clips, pictures, games and other “fun stuff” that I’ve come across. Back in the days, hard drive storage was expensive and online services such as Spotify and YouTube did not yet exists. Burning CDs was the only reasonable way to have a large media library. It was always my dream to one day be able to “return” these files to my computer. The developments in storage technology have been incredible, and today optical discs are no longer viable as archive media (in fact, they are more expensive than hard drives per megabyte!). So a while ago I decided it was time to do it. This meant that I had to copy more than 350 CD’s and about 70 DVD’s. The oldest CD’s in my collection were from 1997, and the oldest DVD’s from 2005. In total there were roughly 375,000 files weighing in at over 550 gigabytes!

I’ve always been aware of the inherent problems with degrading optical media. To be safe I mainly used brand name CD-R’s, preferably the “blue” ones as they were rumored to be of higher quality. Of the various brands I used, Verbatim stands out as my favorite brand, but I also used discs from TDK, Kodak, Sony, Samsung and BASF. In addition to these I also had a few odd brands and some “no-name” disks. For a long time I kept the discs stapled at my desk in their jewel cases, but 6 years ago I consolidated them all into CD-spindles, which I then kept in a dark locker.

I always kind of dreaded this moment, because I knew that many of the discs might turn out to be unreadable. In retrospect, I can only conclude that everything went better than expected. Here are my results:

  • Of the 420 discs, a total of about 20 discs had read errors or other major problems that stopped me from copying them. Many other discs were difficult to read, but made it through in the end.
  • Many (not all though) of the unreadable discs were no-name discs (i.e. cheap discs without labels, usually with a more or less unprotected “mirror” surface on top). I’ve always been suspicious of them, none the least since the data layer is so thin that you can often see through it if you hold the disc in front of a light! In other words, it’s no surprise these would be among the problematic discs.
  • More surprisingly though, four of the BASF discs had read errors. Given that I only had 10 of these in total, it’s not a good result.
  • An entire “batch” of discs from Verbatim had such severe problems I had to abort reading them since I feared the drive would break or overheat. Additionally 2 Verbatim discs from other packages failed on a few individual files.
  • Now, all optical drives have built-in firmware that determine how it operates. This leads to differences in between readers depending on the manufacturer and firmware used, especially in more extreme situations such as when the error correction must kick in. Thus, having attempted to copy all disks using my ordinary drive as outlined above, I took the erroneous discs and tried to copy them on another computer (with a different CD-rom drive). This reader worked much better and actually managed to retrieve most of the problematic data! A few faulty discs remained though. I decided to give it a try on yet another computer, with additional success!
  • In the end, less than 10 discs, all of them no-name brands, were unreadable to some extent. Most of them did not contain any important data, so I did not bother to test them in yet more computers. Thus it is fully possible that some of them were actually readable given the right circumstances.

In summary, everything went better than expected. The number of problems were quite small given the amount of data. I was able to retrieve almost all the data, although I had to try three different CD-readers before success with all discs. Brand names and quality discs do matter, but is not a guarantee for error free operation. About 2% of the discs were unreadable in the end. This may or may not be acceptable, depending on the purpose. I am certainly impressed though, that the very first CD-rom I burned could still be read without problems after 14 years!

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68 Responses to How long do writable CD/DVD last? 400 discs put to the test!

  1. Pingback: Stategies for using CD/DVD as backup media | RLV Blog

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Dan,
    I have experienced some 1st class DVD’s to become unreadable around 4-5 years.
    Last year I switched to having all data on HD’s (external) and I never used DVD’s anymore. I dumped them all, freeing up space in the cupboard. Have kept a few in case of need, though donot expect I’ll ever use them. All-in-all, using DVD’s as backup definitely is history.

    Also had a load of 3.5″discs. I used one or two to put RAID drivers on, required when setting up Windows. This was the only reason to have a 3.5″drive installed on my pc’s sofar. The older diskettes go back to 1997(!). Astonish enough… after 15 years, no problem to use them. Looks like DVD’s are decading faster then the 3.5″ diskettes…

    By the way: my first box of 10x 3.5″ discs, I bought in november 1985 and paid USD.30 for it here in Holland (with the Rate of Exchange on that day).
    Considering the official price-index uptil and incl 2011 and considering the current Rate of Exchange etc. the same box, today, would have had a pricetag of usd.54.. Computerstuff those days was expensive. :-)

    • Dan says:

      I use external hard drives now too. My new computer doesn’t even have an optical drive! My first hard drive cost almost $600 / GB (in 1995). Last year I bought an external disk which cost me $0.04 / GB :-)

  3. Mike says:

    My personal experience with CD-R and CD-RW discs are that CD-R’s seem to last forever. As long as the data is written properly when it is burned, they last forever seemingly. I store them in a dark, cool place and have probably close to 100 of them. Everytime I go to read them, even the older ones, they read perfectly fine and the data on them is also fine. The brand name I use is primarily TDK and never make the CD’s “multisession discs.” These are CD/DVD’s with a 4.35 GB storage capacity. I always handle them properly and when I pull them out to use them, I copy the data to my computer and watch it there instead of using up my CD rom drive to read it directly from the CD. I have yet to have a CD-R data CD fail on me, even ones written to over a decade ago.

    The only ones I have had problems with is the CD-RW’s, which seem to degrade quickly and without fail making them unreadable. I don’t think a single CD-RW I’ve written data to was actually readable a year or two later.

    My preferred brand name is TDK, but avoid the CD-RW’s because they are crap. Stick with CD-R’s, don’t make them multisession CD’s either. I use StarBurn for all my burning needs and it works great. I’ve come across a defective CD or two, but few and far between. CD-R = good and reliable. Store in a dark, cool place. CD-RW = crap, doesn’t hold data long at all and degrades quickly.

    Just my personal experience. I think CD-R’s that are kept in good condition, stored properly and are handled properly when using them would probably last forever. Single write CD/DVD’s, especially with data intended to be read on a computer, is the best way to go. Avoid the CD-RW’s! TDK is a reliable brand and I would recommend it. I think CD-R’s would last longer than any HD would considering a HD has moving parts that can go bad or break at any moment. They can be dropped or not work after not being used for a long time. CD-R’s data is frozen on it and cannot be deleted or altered while CD-RW’s, the data is written into a “dye” on the writing surface which is why you can delete the data and rewrite. CD-R’s are permanent. Once the data is there, nothing can remove it. I disagree that CD/DVD storage for computer data is a thing of the past. It’s probably not the future unless they find a way to double the storage space or get it up to 10GB per CD, but I find CD-R’s to be very reliable and CD-RW’s to be very unreliable.

    Just my opinion.

    • Mike says:

      Also, if you store all your data on a HD, which WILL, without fail, go bad one day, you lose ALL of your data unless you can pull a miracle and recover some or all of it. I’ve heard of external HD’s failing particularly ones with extremely high capacities such as 600+ GB.

      I’ll stick to TDK’s CD’s. Never failed me yet, but to each their own. :)

      • Dan says:

        I agree that there are some good features that you get with discs. However, if you have a lot of data/discs, it’s just not very practical. Plus it’s more expensive. With HD’s you absolutely need a good backup of you data though!

  4. Andy Carloff says:

    Nothing like good ol’ empiricism to test technology. Good article — I knew someone else was thinking the same about all of those blank disks they’ve accumulated. Thanks,

  5. cowboy Mike says:


    This topic is so timely for me. I am about to give 7 mini dv and 2 vhs tapes to an online company to convert to dvd. They say they use very high quality dvds.

    I was just going to get the dvds but having studied on it more I thought it might be best to get them as a digital data files as well since the company offered it. Then I can edit the movie files if I want to and also store them on an external hard drive as well.

    Do you have any thoughts w/ regard to failure rates for ssd drives vs other drives? I am going to use and ssd drive to back the movie data files to. :)

    Happy trails, cowboy Mike

    • Dan says:

      Since there are no moving part in ssd’s I don’t think they age in the same way as normal drives. Without having any real knowledge of this, I can imagine that a normal drive could for example oxidase even if not used much. It sounds as though an ssd should be more durable that a normal disk, but as I said, i don’t really know.

      The normally stated problem with ssd is that they can only take a certain number of writes per memory cell, but this problem is not that much of a problem anymore since the firmware is getting smarter to prevent it. Using a ssd on a normal desktop computer should last at least 5 years, which is the same as normal drives.

      I think it is a bit overkill to use ssd only for backup (unless you have a lot of money to spend).

      Some tips for good backups:

      1. Use more than one backup set (no matter what media). DVDs can be ok, but you need more than set of backups in case one breaks.
      2. Store the backups at different places. This prevents loss from fire, robbery etc.
      3. Read them back occasionally, to make sure the still work.

      • JermeyRon says:

        The method I use to archive my..*ahem*…women’s appreciation videos…was to burn a DVD then mirror it on a Hard Drive. I use cataloging software to then find the appreciation video and use the DVD to appreciate the video…if for some reason the DVD was unreadable then i would just re-burn a new copy from the Hard Drive.

        Also for DVDs that I don’t care about backing up on a HardDrive but still want some kind of protection I use software called DVDisaster that creates smaller parity recovery files that I back up in the cloud.

  6. Andries VandenAbeele says:

    Just had my first DVD failure yesterday and sertainly not happy about it. Lost some cool vids on it. Seems to me it doenst matter if you buy really really expensive brands. DVD was fujifilm, must say a reflecting one wich over the years seem to go down faster. Middelclass cd/dvds go a very long way as well. Point is to always buy ones with a protective layer and store them in a UV free box an at room temp.

    My first cd is a copied BASF 650mb (no 700mb wasnt around yet) disc with fifa 96 on it. Gold version. Reads great.
    I got more then 700 CDs/DVDs at home but since 2008 im putting everything on external drive. Just safer i gues.

    Still have soms 3,5 floppys. All TDK for my windows 3.1, 95 and 98SE computers opstairs. Everyone says im crazy to keep my old pcs running, but i think its great to take a step back into 1998 :). I just love to play games like carmageddon on a pc with no softwareproblems towards older sofware.
    When i get back to my windows 7 64bit you always get the idea … we came a long way :)

    • Dan says:

      FYI: Magnetic storage such as backup tapes and floppies loose their magnetism over time. If you don’t re-write them the data will not be readable eventually :-(

  7. MarkVS says:

    I have an external hard drive, but I also STILL burn DVD-R’s for my home DVD player. I keep all my dvd’s stored in paper sleeves in a hope chest in the hallway and I’m very careful taking them out handling them. But I have some DVD-R’s I burned from 2005 that still play fine. I have never used a particular brand. Some Imation, Memorex, Maxell, Verbatim, and more recently, Titan dual layer. My oldest burned dvd is now 7 years.

  8. KellyDB says:

    At the CES show in Vegas (2013), a company (Milllenniata) is claiming to have single layer DVD disks (4.7 GB) that use available burners to make an actual engraved mark to the disk storage layer resulting in storage that will last ‘thousands of years”. Disks can be played on regular DVD players and devices. These are expensive compared to regular disks but if the storage capacity and longevity of them is accurate (and not just media hype), it seems a good solution. Here’s a link to the Cnet article:

    The Millenenniata web site ( has a list a burners that work with this media and you can also order media from them directly.

    I have no connection with this company at all. I am certainly wondering if the marketing is accurate and if anyone has any experience with these given how new they are.

  9. John Mitchell says:

    Having burned cd’s/dvd’s using several different recorders over the past 7 years, I have found that most of these are now unplayable. They start off ok but after about 30 minutes they start skipping, distorting and often freeze. My suspicion is that this is down to using cd labels. Discs appear slightly dished, which could be due to the labels drying out in warm players and thus warping them. Although I have been unable to successfully remove cd labels, I can do so on my verbatim dvds by soaking in warm water for 2 hours following which they become playable. Has anyone else had this problem? I now print directly onto dvd’s and use marker pens on cd’s although in view of other comments, this might eventually cause similar problems. Another cause of damage could be down to the storage of disks. I understand that blank discs don’t have the same protective layers as commercial discs and thus keeping them in cd binders as opposed to jewel cases could cause scratches etc.

    • Dan says:

      I can’t help you much, but this might be interesting to know:

      In the past, a common problem was that cd/dvd players were not as good at reading burned discs as your typical computer cd-rom drive. For example, burning a Playstation game copy required you to burn at 1x speed and use high quality disc, or else the Playstation might not have wanted to read the disc or started skipping. Also you could not use cd-rw at all. The laser was simply not good enough.

      I think today’s players are much better, but playing a record or movie is different from reading it in your computer, since it requires a steady stream of data. If there are problems it will start skipping. This does not mean it is unreadable, only that it is more difficult to read. A computer cd/dvd-drive might still be able to read the data.

    • Al says:

      I think you’ve hit on the real problem. I have disks going back to 2000 and I’ve just tried the majority of them out with no read problems recorded. I keep them in CD/DVD zipped carry cases so they are not exposed to light. However, I have had loads of failures with ones with CD/DVD labels. The glue seems to eat into the protective layers and destroys the data.

      I don’t trust HDD’s either. If the HDD fails you’ve lost TBs of data as opposed to an odd DVDr failing. I suppose the best option is to use a combination of both and perhaps the cloud

    • Paul Martin says:

      I agree, never put a label on a cd or dvd, the adhesive eats away the burned content.

  10. RIJWAN says:

    Please tell me how to windows bootable disc with duplicate installation disc.means i want to say that you that i had got a installtion disc from my friend so i want to make bootable own disc.i had tried and lost 6 dvd please help me

  11. Ryan Lester says:

    I have never had a CD/DVD fail except for 3 DVD’s. They were Sony. I installed programs on the DVD from rather then installing it on the hard drive. It would work fast for about 3-4 months then if you looked close enough the outer edge was changing color. There was one point when my DVD drive was smoking a little bit. It was being used all day. Other then that I would say it is much better hen floppy disks. They would only last 3 years for me.

  12. Matt says:

    This was a very good article that really helps bring some outside reality to some people who are still into believing myths. In the day and age that DVD-R has made larger grounds in commercial releases the people who still come out and say Pressed will last 100s of years and burned only last 5, are getting really annoying.

    It should go without stating not all discs and players are created equal as you have spelled out for everyone. It’s only natural they don’t last forever, as you can’t fight things forever that are part of the world such as oxygen and temperature.

    I think the major thing we should take away is that while not perfect given proper care written media can last for a long period of time just like pressed. Which is something this study clearly tells us, what comments on this page have told us, what the manufacturer’s studies have told us, and what the NIST study told us. While there can always be outliers and given this whole practice involves a whole mass of variables, i think we can lay the myth to bed. While they both have different problems, i see no reason with the evidence in front of us we shouldn’t expect with proper care lots of DVD-R and CD-Rs to last long periods of time just as there pressed variety can too.

  13. Zero says:

    Nice post man. I’ve gone totally external drives now ( I have almost 9TB of movies and music).
    Ripping the DVDs was a pain, but now it’s done, backing up is MUCH easier.
    I was never very careful with the old optical disks, my favourites I ended ruining many times, thanks to fingerprints, dust etc.. leaving them all over the place.
    I’m not exactly Mr Tidy, so all those disks were simply a pain. My entertainment unit often had stacks of mediums 30 cm high!
    Now I have cheap media PC all over the house linked by cable, and can watch or listen to my music and films without hunting for a (probably wrecked) disk lol.

  14. Lawrence Crawley says:

    I’m surprised nobody here has mentioned m-disks (, which are fairly recent and are designed to last at LEAST 1000 years. Yes, 1000 years. They have two limitations for now: Presently they support only single layer (4.35GB) and they can only be *burned* with DVD burners compatible with m-disks (There are quite a few out there now), but can be *read* by any DVD player/drive that supports DVD-Roms. From the website:

    “Once written, your documents, medical records, photos, videos and data will last up to 1,000 years. “Just M-Disc™ and Forget It!”

    M-DISC™ is the only data storage solution to withstand rigorous testing by the U.S. Department of Defense. Even today’s leading archival optical discs weren’t up to the challenge. M-DISC™ is resistant to extreme conditions of light, temperature, humidity and more. M-DISC™ cannot be overwritten, erased or corrupted by natural processes. Best of all, it’s compatible with any DVD drive, so you can access your data anywhere, anytime.”

    The data is actually engraved (!) in stone (!!)! There’s a short video on YouTube (<1minute):


  15. Lawrence Crawley says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention that m-disks are more expensive than typical name brand burnable DVDs, but that is to be expected for new technology. And in this case, it is quite worth it if you have data that you want/need to last for a long time, reliably. They seem to run between $2 – $3 per disk, and the burners that support them are basically the same price as non-mdisk burners (Just Google “m-disk burners”).

    Also, my previous post looks like I am advertising for m-disk, but I was quoting from their website.


    • Dan says:

      I can’t recall hearing about m-discs before. Thanks for the info. Interesting technology, although 4GB is not much these days.

  16. Tommy says:

    Maybe I’m just lucky, but I haven’t had a single CD-R/RW or DVD-R/RW failure at all. I too have upwards of 400 discs between CDs and DVDs. The vast majority of the DVDs were recorded using a set top recorder 10 years ago, and the CDs a stand alone recorder with the oldest discs also being 10-12 years old. I cycle through and playback things regularly. No problems whatsoever. I feel bad for people who have lost stuff. I really don’t understand it. Can’t really relate. Like I said, maybe I’m just lucky. I’ve always used brand names, either Sony, TDK, Maxell, or Fuji. I handle with care. Store with care. That’s it. I have observed so many other people mishandling discs that I have to believe a lot of problems are due to that. It’s the only thing that makes any sense to me when I’ve had zero problems and all kinds of other people have.

  17. Djharty1 says:

    External hard drives can get wiped i know a guy at college who lost all his work through that, yeah ive had verbatm or what ever you call it and havent had 100% success rate there over rated, yeah i think tdk are the best, and i saw someone saying about hard drive is better cos of the storage, but this will put you to silence i just picked up a cd wallet that holds 500 cd/dvd’s for only £13 which seems like good quality as far as i have seen and the case isnt that big really and it has a carry handle. so really blank media is the way to go it lasts longer than hard drive and you can get a carry case for it for £13 you cant go wrong

    • Willis says:

      Djharty1 That carry case is nice till a Burgler or a Bag snatcher is lurking near the subway station. As my media gets put onto removable storage I keep it under lock & key.

      The US-TSA opening bags at the airport is a whole other story. I lost a class 10 SD card to them fudge packers!

  18. Brian says:

    Hi Dan, great article.
    I just wanted to suggest the use of recovery software when you’re making DVDs for long-term storage. The best one I know of is quickpar which has a free download at
    Basically it creates redundancy files which can be used to reconstruct missing or corrupted data.

    Best regards

    • Dan says:

      Yes, good suggestion. When I started using DVDs as a medium I also began creating MD5 checksums file for the content and put on the disc. Even though you can’t repair corrupted files with checksum files, you can use it to verify that all content is intact which is actually very valuable to know.

  19. Tim says:

    Good article, Dan.
    Many years ago I did a lot of research into CD/DVD brands and quality. It was at that time that I threw out all -RW types, as it clearly wasn’t worth subjecting my files to that risk of loss. One of the things I learned was that even major brand names are often simply re-labeled from another manufacturer; there are some utility programs which can read the actual disks and reveal manufacturer information.
    Since then, I’ve only used MAM-A for CDs or DVDs. The silver version is excellent, but I have some of the archive gold version for storing digitized family photos and other important files … they’re reported to have a useful life of over 300 years! (If only I did.)
    One of their major claims is they are the ONLY media manufacturing company with complete vertical integration … from mining the raw material through manufacturing to sales, they own the whole chain.

  20. olemuso says:

    I burned my first CD-r in 1996. It was a gold coloured Hewlett Packard CD-r which in those days cost £8 each! That disc is still readable – I accessed it only yesterday. Sadly the same cannot be said for many more – if any.
    I have burned many thousands of discs over the years as my hobbies include creating and recording music and video. I have had CD-rs and DVD-rs fail after only a year but some have lasted quite a few years. It must be said that I have also had the same experience with Hard Drives and Solid State devices. This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that nothing is permanent in the digital world.

    I have VHS video tapes 30 years old which still play, and I have cine film and photographic negatives between 5o and 70 years old which are still useable. Photos and/or video files burned to disc seem to last on average 2 to 3 years.

    A few years ago I bought a 320GB Hard Drive and spent some time transferring photographs and music files onto it. I checked they were ok and then I destroyed all the old discs.
    The next day the drive died!! A couple of years worth of work went down the pan!! Using recovery software I managed to salvage about 4Gb worth of the 200+ GB I’d lost so I burned it to a DVD-r. The drive was replaced under warranty. Last week I got the DVD-r out to look at some pics – the disc was unreadable!

    So, what’s the answer? Back up your files, then back up your back ups? It is no secret that most large companies still use tape for their important backups – I now know why.
    Because we live in an age of convenience – we’re too impatient to wait for stuff, it’s unlikely that the average person will return to film cameras, cine and video tape, but there are some professionals who are doing so.

    Oh, and by the way, the System [C] drive in my Work PC has just last night begun to fail – it’s six years old. Like I said, there’s nothing permanent in the digital world.

  21. kurt says:

    all this chatter and no one uses cloud backup? let someone else worry about redundancy and replacing drives! at 5 bucks/month unlimited, i find backblaze, for example, an excellent deal!

  22. JR says:

    I want to add that from my experience, writing at ‘slower’ speeds will help. Most of my CD-R’s of music were burned at 4x, 8x and to a lesser extent 16x. The 16x discs were burned at a time when most drives and media were promising accuracy at really high burning speeds (I think something like 48x) which I tried on a handful of discs that needed to be done quickly. These were never meant for archival purposes, they were tests for something else. While they played fine for at least a few days, they definitely began to fail almost a year later when I went to check them again.

    Generally, the explanation given was that the more time you give a laser to write a “pit,” the more likely that pit of data will be well-formed and hold up over time. Hence, a lot of people who are really, really careful will burn at 1x or 2x.

  23. JR says:

    Just realized that I wasn’t clear about one detail. To clarify, those failed discs I mentioned were burned at a maximum speed of 48x (or something close to that), not 16x.

  24. There are a number of companies that make “archival” blank media. Finding a supplier can be tough. The M-Disc has both DVD and Blu-Ray product. JVC has interesting discussion about their ISO 10995 media based on silver. The gold discs by others have excellent ratings.
    Optical media gets a bum rap, in my opinion. Burn at a conservative speed, never use cheap media if retention is an issue and never use paper labels–all rules violated by some of the posters above, sadly for them.
    Optical media gives you “Care, Custody and Control” of your music and videos. Once finalized you can’t accidentally erase them. Your kids won’t have to pay a fee forever storing all your memories on some cloud. Hard drives fail. Solid state memory fails. Yes, badly burned and handled optical media fail, but it doesn’t have to at the rate many experience. For very little extra from one of several suppliers, you can be comfortable that you can burn a disc that will still work just fine 75 years from now.

    • Willis says:

      Chiming in on the handling. I had a batch of Imations from 03/2000 burned at 4x on a 4x Smart & friendly (RIP) burner. They ended up in the bottom of a plastic watertight tote case & all. There they sat for 15 yrs. One of the discs took 2 hrs to read at 0.4X. So these discs never even got read & had bad sectors throughout. Shameful.

  25. Mike says:

    Thanks for the info. As a DJ, I have been making copies of my bought music CDs since 1999 and have thousands of them. All of them play fine, as CD music is recorded by interlacing, and therefore any 8x oversampling CD player will play them. I even have one with a hole in it, and it plays right thru. However, I save DATA on DVDs which requires perfect recording. Any loss of a data bit and it doesn’t work. Nothing lasts forever. All media will degrade, so the best idea is to use two external HDs with identical data. Use one and if it dies, buy a new one and copy the other HD onto it. Then use the older one. Keep the data alive back and forth between drives. I have about 14 external drives. I also copy the DVD Data discs to new ones every 5 years. My music CD collection is also copied to a HD.

  26. Walt says:

    I am far from an expert, but my limited experience suggests that buying quality CD-Rs, recording at slower speeds (8x or 16x), using a quality burner, only using 80% to 85% of the disc capacity and storing the discs properly (dark and low temperature) should contribute to longer CD-R life.

  27. venicius says:

    I’ll never trust a hard drive beyond the short term anymore, having had two die in less than one year, the same year by the way, and without any warning. never buy toshiba dvd-r or better yet bd-r. Only lose four or five movies vs all of them hmm….. and i’ll pay a few cents more per gig for the reliablity.

    • j par says:

      venicius~ I have noticed that the hard drives with big storage like in TB. fail way before the ones like from 80gb to say 500gb, because the bigger drives has to work twice as hard as the smaller ones!

  28. Encase it is of interest…I have been checking old CD Rs some made in 2004…nearly all the Fuji Photo Discs, ones that I had bought because they were supposed to be best, have failed! Whereas the various other serendipity makes are OK! Fortunately I am lazy about deleting from the computer and have been able to re-disk them …and made duplicate copies.
    I make a lot of digital artwork…and it really matters not to lose it (now triplicate!). Currently using Verbatim with the white tops because that’s what they have at Maplin…and I can see it is more luck than judgment what happens! I have no idea whether my ‘burning’ is good or bad…HOW could one know?!
    I would also be curious to know if copying back to the computer produces any difference in the quality of images??? Most of my important stuff is in Photoshop…but there are plenty of JPG images.
    NB My disks are kept out of sunlight and upright and not near heat.
    Thanks folks for all your comments, instructive! I will keep an eye out for replies.

    • Dan says:

      > I would also be curious to know if copying back to the computer produces any difference in the quality of images??? Most of my important stuff is in Photoshop…but there are plenty of JPG images.

      The quality of your images will not be affected. If an error were to occur, the files would be corrupt and applications would either not be able to read it or it would be badly corrupted in case of jpegs. In other words, you would notice it. My experience though, is that CD/DVD readers are good at error detection. So if you manage to read a file, then it is likely to be identical to when it was saved.

  29. Charles says:

    Outside of layer damage. If not by careful buffing or cleaning, I personally can attest that a third of my most strenuous read errors with older disc meet resolve variating between different and readers and writers, or more so with earlier software installs. I’m not sure exactly why, but it somhow seems to be a defining issue with disc created in earlier versions of Windows XP. Fuji disc in particular will oddly read on my Dell 8300 with OEM install (Sept 2003) of Windows XP. If it wasn’t out of a cold war between the early brands and makers to gut out the competition some of the issues occured through software updates. Lesser of an issue today than a few years ago.

  30. John Tweed says:

    Another warning for people transferring to HD. I bought 2x Western Digital (WD) 3TB external drives, for backup. One suddenly stopped being recognised. So sometimes HD drives do not give any warning as they fail, BEWARE.
    The real problem here was not the physical drive, but the external case electronics. Now here comes the painful part. I was able to take out the drive and found that it would still spin up, great. But thanks to WD’s ‘big brother at work’ the drive is encrypted by the external pcb, and so remains unreadable. :-( !!!! There was no hint on the external drive packaging that data would be encrypted if one did not select encrypting.

    • j par says:

      John Tweed , the best thing one needs to always do is format their hard drive when they they buy it! Format it to what it is! right click on properties it should say NTFS FORMAT! this gets rid of all the crap the manufacturers put on them! if you still have Your hard drive, if You cant get it to work is take it to some one like geek squad they might be able to help! It depends on what You have put on it, they have recovery software that might help You get back Your stuff! Like Puran file recovery! and Recuva, both are free! These are good at recovering mpeg 4’s mp3 jpeg and other files! vob files like DVD’s not so much, because files are scattered! it may ask You to format Your hard drive first, if You do make sure You format it to the same format YOUR the factory used! if NTSC, then use NTFS ~ if fat 32, then use fat 32! if not, it won’t see the files in recovery!yOU WILL NEED TO RECOVER YOUR FILES TO ANOTHER DRIVE, NEVER USE THE SAME DRIVE TO RECOVER TO! If You format do it as a last resort, because after doing so, a Tec. can’t undo what You did! Best of luck!

  31. j par says:

    I have stored dvds/cds in over 120 degrees, for over 5 years, they still play as good as day 1! My thought on the subject really has to do with the strength of the laser that burns the disk! so if you want them around a long time, then make sure to use a good reliable well known for performance dvd rw drive! and if you really want to keep your files a long time, do not, I repeat do not buy cheap dvd’s/cd’s, because half of them when You burn them screw up right off the bat, and they won’t last if they do burn! truthfully the re-writable dvd/cd is the best to store things on! For those that have found faulty dvds that will no longer read, your best bet is to find a dvd/cd recovery software! There are some free ones like, Recuva, and Puran File Recovery! these are good at recovering mp4’s and other video files, also mp3’s! so don’t give up on the disk, try the recovery freeware/ software to retrieve them! Regards! best of luck!

  32. S.williams says:

    i need to put files into a DVD i tried to do it on the DVD+R however it did not work on the DVD player and i cannot delete files on some old DVDs which DVD should i use to put the files on that would work on the DVD player and the PS4

  33. Nick says:

    The problem that I’ve read is mainly due to the organic dyes in CD/DVD Recordable. Does anyone know if factory printed CD music and DVD movies contain these organic dyes?

  34. Ryan at GM says:

    I have read that putting labels on CD-R’s or DVD-R’s is a no-no and just wanted to get some feedback from others on this? What about writing on the top of the discs using permanent marker? Is there a best practice for labeling or marking discs without speeding up demise of the media? From time to time, we send clients copies of their data on CD-R’s and DVD-R’s and want to ensure that we are providing them with discs that will not prematurely deteriorate. Presently, we simply label the plastic case and leave the discs unmarked.

    • Bernie says:

      I have given up on cd/dvd paper labels 6 years ago. I found burned movies were OK when tested with Nero’s diskspeed. It’s a free download ( and has great info if your DVD burner supports the application (not all do). Several years later, I had issues playing some movies and retested the disk using discspeed and found large PIF errors. Since my original discspeed quality test was before I put on the label on, I decided to strip some labels (by putting disk in gas oven at keep warm temp) and retest. Significantly better results and playable disks. Painstaking work, but I noticed even with only 1/2 the label removed, disks still worked, even though I thought it would case spin balance reading issues. Now I only use white inkjet printable disks (preferrably verbatim – you will understand when you test numerous brand disks with discspeed) and print labels directly on disk.

  35. ray hines says:

    Hi Dan,

    when recently attempting to burn an iso image of a windows os onto DVD using common windows burner software – I found I had to make about 3 attempts before I got an error free burn. I first did a sha1 checksum on the iso image. After the DVD burn I ripped it to the HDD and then redid the checksum to confirm the image was identical to source.
    The DVD burner and burn software give no indication that the burn was faulty. It does have a verify option but I prefer my method. The fault may lay with the burner drive or the blank media – I cannot say.
    Anyhoo always verify your data burns before moving on.
    It is a good idea to save the checksum for every disk you burn to a database for future checking.

  36. ThaCrip says:

    I have quite a few DVD-R(or +R’s) that are at least 10+ years old now (I suspect most are burned between 7-15 years ago (I usually write the date on the disc when I burned it)) and they work fine the last I checked as I don’t expect to have any that are bad. if there is, it’s got to be minimal given I largely avoided the crap brands and stuck largely to Verbatim which seems to be considered the best all around brand for recordable DVD’s considering they tend to be priced well and have a good rep.

    but the last I knew the general word is the best recordable DVD discs (especially reasonably priced ones) are Taiyo Yuden or Verbatim. but Verbatim seems to be better because they tend to be a bit cheaper and are still in the same league quality wise.

    I also have some CD-R’s that could be as old as 1998-ish. I was reading comments above and quality CD-R’s are likely reliable for many years to come, like already mentioned, but since DVD’s hold about 6.7 times the amount of data, I suspect many did not use CD-R’s for long especially outside of basic music CD’s since once the costs of DVD’s started floating around CD-R’s it just made more sense to use DVD’s since it offers more storage space to the $ spent (the last I knew, I heard recordable Bluray’s tend to be so-so for longevity to where they are simply not as reliable as CD-R or DVD recordable technology as the years/decades pass but I would not be surprised if some of that is due to the data density where as the tinniest little flaw could take out the data. either way, I never bothered with backing up data on bluray discs.). but I do have some Mitsui CD-R’s, which were supposedly of higher quality back in the early 2000’s or so(I still have a 100-pack spindle(most of the discs I have not used yet and I am confident will still burn fine) which I think I paid $50 for 100 discs which is a bit pricey), that I backed up some data (pictures etc) and I am confident they still work fine today.

    but basically… I still use Verbatim/Taiyo Yuden DVD’s for that can’t-afford-to-lose kind of data(I don’t have to burn this often though since 4.7GB of pictures and vids from a digital camera etc tends to be a lot of storage space), which is just family related stuff, as I tend to keep at least two copies on two separate hard drives along with one copy on a Verbatim disc and another copy on Taiyo Yuden disc as the odds of me losing data with that setup is slim short of a house fire etc. but for data I would rather not lose, but it’s nothing too critical, I just tend to keep things simple in that I have a total of two copies on two different hard drives as that should give reasonable protection against most data loss situations and especially if you have one that’s mostly offline which minimize the chances of potential virus etc getting to it even though I generally don’t expect virus’s etc to get into my computer given I am cautious on what I allow to run and keep software up to date etc.

  37. Jacob Miller says:

    Nice information Regarding Cd DVD writable. This information helps me a lot.

  38. Chris Edmonds says:

    I just pulled out a stack of 14 CD-R’s that I used to archive vacation pictures from 2006 and 2008. They were stored in a dark place in conventional plastic boxes and never used after they were burnt and verified. Several of them are totally ureadable. Fortunately I still have the hard drive with the originals on it. At the time I didn’t expect the hard drive to outlast the CDs. The discs in question are labeled NEXXTEC (i.e., “no-name”).

    I’m going to check out others to see if there are any patterns. Not all my collection are NEXXTEC.

  39. Mark Taylor says:

    I recently completed my 3rd optical disc stress test. Others might be interested in my results…

  40. Bliss Shine says:

    I have read that putting labels on CD-R’s or DVD-R’s is a no-no and just wanted to get some feedback from others on this? What about writing on the top of the discs using permanent marker? Is there a best practice for labeling or marking discs without speeding up demise of the media? From time to time, we send clients copies of their data on CD-R’s and DVD-R’s and want to ensure that we are providing them with discs that will not prematurely deteriorate. Presently, we simply label the plastic case and leave the discs unmarked.

  41. Luigi says:

    In my case, I have been burning discs since 2001…used different brands during the years (I started with philips, then MEMOREX and finally stuck with VERBATIM).

    I still keep the bast mayority of the disc I have burned since then (I am talking about more than 500 CDR and DVDRS!) and only some of them gave me CRC errors. However, I think this could be caused by how the discs were burned (some of the defective ones, I remember that they were burnt with my old laptots DVD writter, which was not very good) more than the brands itself.

    The Verbatim ones are still fine, at least. I storage them in theirs original container. I know that is not the best storage mode, but is the one that allows using the less physicall space possible.

  42. thoraz says:

    TDK CD-Rs are a complete 100% failure retrieving data after 20 years (burned around 2000 or so). Verbatim, Mitsumi, Maxell had no failures across about 600 or so CDs.

  43. James says:

    Interesting somebody is studying this topic. I have kodak gold ultima cd-r 1999. Still working well

  44. Geo says:

    I have burned hundreds of DVDs until today. Some of them has given me errors after some years (mostly unbranded).

    For some period, I had the biggest part of my files in hard drives. And then one day.. puff! 1TB data were lost forever. Due to a critical unknown error, I was able to recover less than 50GB. Since then, I am using exclusively M-DISC blurays for important files such as my photos and videos. It’s not as easy to access as a hard drive, but I feel pretty safe.

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