A Lifetime Of 50 Years


"The Compact Disc Digital Audio System offers the best possible sound reproduction - on a small, convenient sound-carrier unit... the Compact Disc will provide a lifetime of pure listening enjoyment."

That was then. Now with fresh information from new research, the best a Compact Disc can offer by way of a "lifetime" is about 50 years "if". And that's a big if of dos and don'ts. For a start, do a search on the net for "Byers CD care guide" and read the 50-page official document of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology which was written by Fred Byers, a technical staff at the institute, who is currently pushing for a standards test that will certify CDs and DVDs with a warranty that promises "tested to last for 50 years."

The idea is gathering support as more and more computer buffs store everything from data, family photos, music to home videos on CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. Consumers now want to know how reliable are these discs for long term storage. Currently, there is no longer any guarantee except for the marketing hype each manufacturer issues to entice you to buy their brand of blank discs.

The current opinion however, favors discs manufactured in Japan while discs that are unbranded are generally avoided. The manufacturer of That's, Taiyo Yuden, is the fan favorite. Based in Japan, it used to manufacture the bulk of the popular Japanese brands Sony, TDK, etc. But most Japanese manufacturers have migrated their blank disc production to Taiwan as it is cheaper there.

As all recordable discs work by imprinting information on the dye coated on the blank CD, the quality comes with the type of dye used and how the recorded CD is stored for optimum longevity. The best dye is also the most expensive. A thin-layer of 24-karat gold over the blank CD is best for archival purposes. Gold is not tarnished by contact with air or water.

Music fans should also be aware that while CD-recorders are promising greater copying speeds up to 52-times, the recommended speed by a disc-testing company, Media Sciences INC, is four-speed for music. The faster speeds are best for data copying.

Netizens without time to spare can read the gist of Mr Byers' report from pages 16-26. - Michael Cheah

Quick Reference Guide for Care and Handling


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 to record.

6. Expose discs to extreme heat or high humidity.

7. Expose discs to extremely rapid temperature or humidity changes.

8. Expose recordable discs to prolonged sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet light.

9. Write or mark in the data area of the disc (the area the laser “reads”).

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.

General recommendations for long-term storage conditions:
For archiving recordable (R) discs, it is recommended to use discs that have a gold metal reflective layer.

Archival Storage Facility - Recommendation for storing CDs and DVDs together


Less than 20C (68F)
Greater than 4C (39F)

Relative Humidity (RH)
20% to 50% RH

A temperature of 18C and 40% RH would be considered suitable for long-term storage.

A lower temperature and RH is recommended for extended-term storage.

For more... email singbigo@singnet.com.sg with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."