1/11/2006

Do Burned CDs Have a Short Life Span? - Yahoo! News

Opinions vary on how to preserve data on digital storage media, such as optical CDs and DVDs. Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland, has his own view: If you want to avoid having to burn new CDs every few years, use magnetic tapes to store all your pictures, videos and songs for a lifetime.

The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data "shifting" on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam.

Similar Limitations

Hard-drive disks also have their limitations, according to Gerecke. The problem with hard drives, he says, is not so much the disk itself as it is the disk bearing, which has a positioning function similar to a ball bearing. "If the hard drive uses an inexpensive disk bearing, that bearing will wear out faster than a more expensive one," he says. His recommendation: a hard-drive disk with 7200 revolutions per minute.

To overcome the preservation limitations of burnable CDs, Gerecke suggests using magnetic tapes, which, he claims, can have a life span of 30 years to 100 years, depending on their quality. "Even if magnetic tapes are also subject to degradation, they're still the superior storage media," he says.

But he's quick to point out that no storage medium lasts forever and, consequently, consumers and business alike need to have a migration plan to new storage technologies.

"Companies, in particular, need to be constantly looking at new storage technologies and have an archiving strategy that allows them to automatically migrate to new technologies," he says. "Otherwise, they're going to wind up in a dead-end. And for those sitting on terabytes of crucial data, that could be a colossal problem."
Do Burned CDs Have a Short Life Span? - Yahoo! News

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