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Report: CD-Rs Are not Reliable

While transferring data over from CD-R to HDD, Tech ARP discovered that--out of thirteen disks burned back in 2000--one disk was considered "corrupted" and one considered as "difficult to read."  Out of thirty disks burned back in 2002 however, three were considered corrupted--a 10-percent ratio compared to the 7.7-percent ratio seen with the 2000 disks.

To clarify its point, the site went on to define "corrupted" as one or more files on the disk which could not be accessed; "difficult to read" meant that the disk could not be read in one out of two CD/DVD drives used during the test. Various brands were provided in the tests as well, ranging from bottom-of-the-line cheap CD-Rs to premium brands such as Kodak and Mitsubishi.

"Even though branded CD-Rs from the likes of Kodak were expected to last longer, they appeared equally susceptible to failure as the cheap, no-brand CD-Rs," the site reports.

But if older CD-Rs are showing signs of corruption, what does that mean for consumers backing up important files on the disks? Ultimately, CR-R's--as well as burned DVDs--are not as reliable as manufacturers advertise. Does that mean all recordable disks have a short lifespan? No. Disks should last for decades; some manufacturers even claim hundreds of years.

However, as Tech ARP's tests indicate, writable disks--while stored correctly in dark, cool places--can fail at "a significant rate" at just seven to nine years old. The site suggested that consumers use multiple forms of data storage, and to backup data often.

  • JasonAkkerman
    This just in, water is wet!

    Really, who expects a CD-R to last 9-10 years?
    Reply
  • d_kuhn
    IMO The key to keeping data safe is REDUNDANCY. Don't rely on any one technology or technique and assume your data is going to be there. DVD-R's and CD-R's are good for storage (especially the better quality discs), but if I REALLY want to keep a file safe I always store it on a drive in addition to burning it to media, and the drive I store to is regularly backed up. It doesn't mean the data is 100% safe but it's pretty darn close.
    Reply
  • Wayoffbase
    The only real way to safeguard data is to chisel it into stone, and only a fraction of that is going to survive. Everything printed on paper or stored in digital form is temporary.
    Reply
  • jawshoeaw
    I'm tempted to shout fir....! Never trusted CDs, DVDs or any other storage media for that matter, for longer than a few years. But then, that's how long data is usually important, until advent of digital photography, etc. So far, leapfrogging (buy a new one every few years) hard drives is medium of choice, with online backup of a few other things. But what about the family "photo album"?

    Read an article a few years ago that said the most secure form of data storage was pigment based ink on archival quality paper - believed to last hundreds of years. You can print 2D array of data which can be easily read with inexpensive scanners. Downside is "areal density", a little low.
    Reply
  • San Pedro
    WayoffbaseThe only real way to safeguard data is to chisel it into stone, and only a fraction of that is going to survive. Everything printed on paper or stored in digital form is temporary. Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind. . .
    Reply
  • Clintonio
    Anything is temporary, full stop.

    ---

    I'm not suprised to be honest. These days though, I'd archive a lot of things online. Or in a RAID1 configuration. Then, take the disks out and put them in storage seperately.
    Reply
  • jacobdrj
    Yeah... Better off keeping things on hard drives in raid array and just upgrade to higher capacity drive periodically...
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    I dont trust any of my data (single copy wise) on any media as they have all proven utterly useless.

    Ill stick to my 3 servers :D
    Reply
  • michaelahess
    I have 5.25 inch floppies that still work and they are over 20 years old, supposedly they aren't supposed to last that long. I've also got 11 year old cd-r's that are still working great.
    Reply
  • one-shot
    ClintonioAnything is temporary, full stop. ---I'm not suprised to be honest. These days though, I'd archive a lot of things online. Or in a RAID1 configuration. Then, take the disks out and put them in storage seperately.
    RAID 1 is not a backup solution.
    Reply