"Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a life span of around two years."
The following references should be reviewed for a more complete understanding of the problems there are in recording and storing CD’s and DVD’s: (Links to these sites can be found on ICON’S web site under the Monthly Meeting Program for February.)
1. Andy McFadden’s CD-Recordable FAQ at: http://www.cdrfaq.org/faq.html, see sections 7-4-1, 7-5 and 7-7.
2. The Langa Letter, "Is Your Data Disappearing?" at: http://www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20010719S0003
3. The Langa Letter, "Time To Check Your CD-Rs" at:
4. "Do Burned CDs Have a Short Life Span?", at:
5. "The Truth About Disc Rot", at: http://www.popphoto.com/article.asp?section_id=4&article_id=1492
6. Additional links are given in item 1 above, under section 7-5.
Brands often recommended: Mitsui (now MAM-A), Kodak (no longer being made), Taiyo Yuden and TDK. It appears that HP, Philips, Sony, Yamaha and Fuji use these manufacturers for most of their disks. (I have Philips CDs and HP CDs I bought recently that were both made by CMC Magnetics.)
Brands that are often trashed: Maxell, Verbatim, Memorex, Ritek, Hotan, Princo, Gigastorage, Lead Data, Fornet, CMC Magnetics. Many "no name" bulk CDRs are one of these brands.
I recommend the following strategy for using CD-Rs and DVD-Rs to store and archive your data:
1. For short term storage (probably good for six months to two years) – the cheap trash brands available on sale.
2. For longer term storage (probably good for 10 years), where you need to exercise monetary restraint – Taiyo Yuden.
3. For long term storage where you want to be as safe as possible – Mitsui (now MAM-A) gold.
4. I recommend you make a second backup copy of each important disc and store them in a remote location in case of fire or other disaster. (Flood, tornado, etc.) At some point it would be prudent to make this second backup copy two years later than the date of the original disc.
5. Label each CD with the date it was recorded and test them for damage after two years of storage.
Lawrence Photo has the Delkin Devices brand, "eFilm Archival Gold" CD-Rs, 25 each for $36.99 plus tax. ($1.50 each). These are manufactured by Matsui/MAM-A.The best place to purchase the Taiyo Yuden and Matsui/MAM-A CD-Rs and DVD-Rs is National Audio Company, Inc. 309 E. Water Street, Springfield MO. Their web site is www.nationalaudiocompany.com and you can request they send you a catalog or download and print one from a PDF file. The Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs sell for from .32 cents each to .45 cents each in lots of 100, depending upon the type ordered. (Thermal Printable, Inkjet Printable, etc.) The Matsui/MAM-A Gold CD-Rs sell for .83 cents each in lots of 50, plus sales tax.
Labeling CDs and DVDs is still very controversial. The safest recommendation at this time is to only use felt-tipped pens that are recommended for use on CDs. It is felt by many that the adhesives used for paper labels can migrate through the lacquer used to cover the medium and ruin the recording layer over a period of time. Some say that the ink in "sharpies" can cause this problem too.
In order to test CDs and DVDs to determine if they are damaged or are already bad, you can use a tool called "Nero CD-DVD Speed". You can download this tool from: http://www.cdspeed2000.com/go.php3?link=download.html (Note: The latest version, 4.06 includes an information tool that will show you the company that made the CD or DVD disc in question.)
I also recommend when you "burn" CDs and DVDs, use a separate recording program such as Nero or Easy CD Creator and use the "verify" function in the program to assure there are no mistakes made during the "writing" of the CD or DVD.