If you’ve tried listening to any of the old music CDs lately from your carefully assembled collection from the 1980s or 1990s, you may have noticed that many of them won’t play. Adrienne LaFrance reports in the Atlantic at http://goo.gl/395Nqx, “While most of the studio-manufactured albums I bought still play, there’s really no telling how much longer they will. My once-treasured CD collection — so carefully assembled over the course of about a decade beginning in 1994 — isn’t just aging; it’s dying. And so is yours.”
Fenella France, chief of preservation research and testing at the Library of Congress is trying to figure out how CDs age so that we can better understand how to save them. But it’s a tricky business, in large part because manufacturers have changed their processes over the years and even CDs made by the same company in the same year and wrapped in identical packaging might have totally different lifespans.
Eventually, many discs show signs of edge rot, which happens as oxygen seeps through a disc’s layers. Some CDs begin a deterioration process called bronzing, which is corrosion that worsens with exposure to various pollutants. The lasers in devices used to burn or even play a CD can also affect its longevity.
The report discusses music CDs but the same problem affects CD-ROM data disks as well. If the disk was commercially manufactured in a factory, it should last for years. CDs and CD-ROM disks “burned” at home, however, have a much shorter lifespan. If you have CDs or CD-ROMs that are sitting on the shelf, you need to copy them NOW. You can copy them to new CD disks or to flash drives or to most any other form of modern media. They still won’t last forever but you can get quite a few more years of life from them if you take steps now to preserve the information by copying it to new storage devices. Then, a few years from now, copy them again to more modern media.
You can read more at http://goo.gl/395Nqx.