How long should a CD last

Tips for handling CDs and DVDs

The compact disc (CD) and the DVD are the everyday media in the audio and computer sector. To ensure that these data carriers last as long as possible, they must be handled with care. Especially the underside (without lettering) should be free of dirt, grease stains (from touch), scratches (use as a snack board) and dust (improper storage).


If a CD becomes dirty or dusty despite proper handling of CDs, cleaning is necessary. To ensure that the CD still works afterwards, the following instructions must be observed: Water makes sense when cleaning CDs. Dry cleaning is more likely to cause scratches from small dirt particles than cleaning with a damp cloth. If water is not enough to remove dirt, the CD can also be treated with glass cleaner or washing-up liquid. Cleaning in the dishwasher is unsuitable. The high temperatures in the dishwasher can make CDs blind. Before the CD is put back in a drive, it should be dried thoroughly. If you run a cloth over the CD, you should always do it from the inside out. So you should never swipe around in circles on the CD. Reason: Possible scratches that run from the inside to the outside do not cause as much damage to the track groove. Scratches that run in a circle on the CD affect a very long distance on the CD. These scratches then place very high demands on the error correction of a CD drive.


CD-R and DVD + R / -R are better suited for long-term archiving than CD-RW and DVD + RW / -RW. The media is best stored upright in the jewel case. So not horizontally or in a spindle. Envelopes made of paper, foil or cardboard, as they are often included in magazines, are less suitable. Short-term storage makes sense because of the small amount of space required. But not storage for many years. Therefore, important media should be checked regularly and, if necessary, the data should be burned onto a new medium. The storage location should be as dust-free, dark and dry as possible (relative humidity 20 to 50 percent). The ambient temperature should not be extremely cold or warm. Optimal conditions are between 4 and 20 ° C. Sun exposure (UV light) should be avoided. Especially self-burned CD-Rs take this very badly. Rewritable CD-RW media are less sensitive to environmental influences. Their receiving layer consists of an inorganic material. However, the legibility deteriorates over time. Therefore, they are not suitable for storage over several years.


Foil pens are particularly suitable for writing on blanks (CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD + R, DVD-RW, DVD + RW, DVD-RAM, etc.). Pens and pencils are not recommended. If you want to be sure that your pen is suitable for writing on a blank, you can write on the blank before the burning process. If the pen has damaged the blank (due to solvents or the like) then the burning process is not even ended, but is interrupted beforehand. Nevertheless, caution is advised. A defective blank can damage the burner.

Inscription labels / labels

In principle, special labels should be used for sticking on. However, the labels should be affixed as centered as possible on the CD. Labels that are not exactly centered create an imbalance. In fast drives, these can cause loud noises when playing. Simple stickers damage the media and should therefore not be used. Blanks that can be printed directly on are better and cheaper in the long run. Assuming you have a suitable printer. Special labels are also not unreservedly recommended. They exert tension on the top of the disc. The edge curves up to 1.0 °. However, the angle may not exceed 1.6 °. Unlabeled CDs already have an angle of up to 0.8 to 0.9 °. So there is not much room for maneuver. The bending of DVDs may even be only 0.8 °. There are special labels for DVDs that are made of silver foil and have less influence on the playback properties. The use of centering aids when sticking labels is not absolutely necessary. Skilled users are just as capable of sticking centered labels without a centering aid. Off-center labels are less of a problem than the mechanical distortion caused by the adhesive layer and thus leading to an imbalance. Labels that are not suitable for DVDs should not be affixed to them. In environments with strong temperature fluctuations, such as in the car or outdoors, CDs with labels should not be used. Some of the labels peel off or lead to increased mechanical distortion. Even CDs and DVDs with long-term use should not be pasted.

Differences in quality in blanks

The quality of a blank depends to a large extent on the quality of the guide groove and the even distribution of the dye. The manufacturing machines, however, result in manufacturing tolerances due to shutdowns and maintenance work. After a shutdown, the machines need a certain start-up phase in which the tight tolerances for branded blanks are not adhered to. Until the machine is optimally set, several thousand blanks are produced, which come onto the market as non-names. However, it can also happen that non-name blanks can have the same quality as branded blanks. The color of the underside of a blank is created from the addition of the metallic reflective layer and the colored layer, the dye between the metal layer and the polycarbonate carrier. The color layer (dye) usually consists of the following materials: cyanine (blue), phthalocyanine (colorless), azo (dark blue) and gold. Gold, silver and aluminum (CD-RW) are used as a substitute for the reflective layer. Of the many possible combinations, the following usually occur: cyanine / gold (green) cyanine / silver (light green blue) phthalocyanine / gold or silver (yellow gold) azo / silver (blue) Because different burning speeds and different burning techniques require different blanks, everyone brews Blank manufacturers do their own thing when it comes to the composition of their blanks.

Shelf life of CD-Rs

In stress tests, CD-Rs with phthalocyanine dye and a gold-silver alloy as a reflective layer had the best durability. CD-Rs with cyanine dye were light-resistant but more sensitive to high temperatures and humidity. CD-Rs with azo dye are considered problematic, although the manufacturers advertise particularly high UV resistance and durability.

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