Longevity of CD's/DVD's - Research and Results

Started Jan 16, 2006 | Discussions thread
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JohnHHarrington New Member • Posts: 7
Longevity of CD's/DVD's - Research and Results

To follow on to the discussion about the longevity of CD's and DVD's, here are a few thoughts and my recommendations based upon my experience. I've done some research on the archivability of CD's. Here's the ZIP file on that:


If you think using CD's/DVD's is the solution. Think twice. I've talked with folks from the National Institutes of Standards and Testing (NIST) where they've been working on a study of the archivability of CD's and DVD's. I was sent these links about a little known department and study within NIST. I think you'll find it extremely insightful:



Lastly, here are a few excerpts from:



  • 1. Handle discs by the outer edge or the center hole.

  • 2. Use a non-solvent-based felt-tip permanent marker to mark the label side of the disc.

  • 3. Keep dirt or other foreign matter from the disc.

  • 4. Store discs upright (book style) in plastic cases specified for CDs and DVDs.

  • 5. Return discs to storage cases immediately after use.

  • 6. Leave discs in their packaging (or cases) to minimize the effects of environmental changes.

  • 7. Open a recordable disc package only when you are ready to record data on that disc.

  • 8. Store discs in a cool, dry, dark environment in which the air is clean.

  • 9. Remove dirt, foreign material, fingerprints, smudges, and liquids by wiping with a clean cotton fabric in a straight line from the center of the disc toward the outer edge.

  • 10. Use CD/DVD-cleaning detergent, isopropyl alcohol, or methanol to remove stubborn dirt or material.

  • 11. Check the disc surface before recording.

Do not:

  • 1. Touch the surface of the disc.

  • 2. Bend the disc.

  • 3. Use adhesive labels.

  • 4. Store discs horizontally for a long time (years).

  • 5. Open a recordable optical disc package if you are not ready

  • 6. Expose discs to extreme heat or high humidity.

  • 7. Expose discs to extremely rapid temperature or humidity

  • 8. Expose recordable discs to prolonged sunlight or other sources

  • 9. Write or mark in the data area of the disc (the area the laser

  • 10. Clean by wiping in a direction going around the disc.

For CDs especially do not:

  • 1. Scratch the label side of the disc.

  • 2. Use a pen, pencil, or fine-tip marker to write on the disc.

  • 3. Write on the disc with markers that contain solvents.

  • 4. Try to peel off or reposition a label.

Feel free to write with questions...

Happy archiving!

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John Harrington
Washington DC Photographer

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