Saturday, October 24, 2009

How long does a CD Last?

As I was reading an article about the San Francisco Library and their collection of 4,000 LP records I noticed one line that caught my attention. It said “Records are a much better long-term format than a CD. CDs eventually self-destruct,". I started to wonder how long does a recordable CD last. I went to Google and searched the question.

It seems that there are a number of conditions that affect the life of a CD such as moisture, CD quality, heat, burning process, material used for making the CD, the position it is stored. According to studies they last 2-5 years for most users. So, how do we store all the family photos and documents we want to save for future generations?

When it comes to digital photos, the Library of Congress suggests a three-pronged approach: save them to discs or USB flash drives, upload them to online storage sites such as, and print out copies with archive-quality ink. Then, when CD-Rs, flash drives, or websites become outdated, move everything to their replacements.

Also, know that blank CD-Rs don't last as long as used discs -- think five to 10 years shelf life. That may be plenty of time, considering the speed of overturning technology. CDs may feel like 8-tracks in five years.