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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.