Time To Back Up Your Back Ups

from the digital:-it-lasts-forever-(or-maybe-just-five-years) dept

Wasn’t Jack Valenti just telling us that DVDs last forever? Maybe not. As many people are now learning, digital media has a pretty rapid decay rate. The latest to discover this was a reporter who, five years ago or so, had fallen for that old (har har) “paperless office” gag that has been pulled before. He bought a CD-RW and scanned in all sorts of stuff (including photos and old articles he’d written) — and then made the fatal mistake: he tossed out the original copies. Glad to have the filing space back, he proceeded to shove the CDs on a shelf somewhere and forget about them for years… until now. Partly out of curiosity, he pulled out these backup CDs, put them in his CD drive and discovered the wonders of Windows error messages. He begins to wonder (uh oh) what will this mean for all the CDs and DVDs he’s been paying good money for over the years. It would be nice if he could back them all up, perhaps multiple times to various different storage media, but the entertainment industry isn’t real keen on that idea, seeing as they’re actively stomping out those who try to help you save your own digital files.


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Comments on “Time To Back Up Your Back Ups”

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12 Comments
Tony (user link) says:

CD's vs. CD-RW

The way I understand it, writable CD’s use an optically activated dye to store the 1’s and 0’s, a sort of psuedo-pit, which degrades over time. On the other hand, a production CD or DVD is actually “pressed”, forming physical pits for the data. Technically they should never degrade.
That’s not to say they can’t get scratched or warped or what-not. For those reasons back-ups should be made, but they shouldn’t go bad or degrade over time.

Thomas Hawk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Back Ups

For my most important documents I also keep a back up on the non-networked C: drive on my work PC. I also backup these documents to an external drive that I do not keep connected to any PC. I basically synch my important documents on my home PC to this backup drive and then take it to work and synch back. This way I always have one copy at home, one copy at work and one copy on the backup drive.

This being said, this would not be practicle for large digital libraries, mp3s, video, etc. due to size but it works well for my 35,000 .jpgs (family photos, etc.) and all of my important scanned .pdf documents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: CDR lifetimes

Sorry I hit enter before putting in any text.

This article discusses CD lifetimes in a number of environments and factors. It talks about the dye issue.

Also to reinforce that CD lifetimes exceed 70 years.

I am not sure what they person did to render his disks unusable. Maybe they never worked, or maybe he was using them as coffee mug coasters.

Mark Norman says:

Re: Re: CDR lifetimes

Good link to cd-info.com, but he was using CD-RW’s, not CD-R’s, and the two have a different chemistry and construction:
http://www.osta.org/technology/cdqa15.htm
CD-RW’s are also supposed to last for decades, but probably not as long as CD-R’s:
http://www.osta.org/technology/cdqa13.htm
I wonder if the guy tried cleaning his CD drive?

Claudiu Andone says:

The system! The system is breaking down!

Well… let’s not get crazy all together. Please tell that guy to clean his CD reader. That could solve the problem. You didn’t specified either that after he backed up he tested the fresh written CD. I got over 100 CD written 4 years ago that are still readable. I’ve also heard better.

Good luck!

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