The Usable Storage Life of CDs and DVDs Is Not As Long As You Might Hope or Want.

With the digital age coming into its own, many of us have turned to storing much of our information, including our photographs, on CDs and DVDs.  The difference between the two, for the purpose of storage, is in the amount of data that can be stored.  The DVD format wins.  But that is not the problem we’re really confronted with.  How long will they last in storing  precious information–including our photographs?

In a January 10, 2006 article in Computerland, Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM was quoted as saying: “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.”

There is a wide range of life expectancy for these storage mediums:  from a couple of years, as noted above, to 100 years by the manufacturers.  The later figure surely hasn’t been proven yet.  We suspect the span lies somewhere in the middle, and most likely on the lower side of middle.

The construction of CDs and DVDs used to store photographs on is subject to the same type of deterioration that film negatives and printed pictures are.  They require the same type of storage care.  Light, heat and humidity are agents that can shorten or destroy the information burned on these discs.  Cooler temperatures seem to be the prime issue.

The quality levels of the disc’s construction has some bearing.  Higher quality discs tend to have a longer life.  The unfortunate thing is determining the quality of the disc is difficult.  Visually, you can’t tell much from a low budget discs versus a high end disc.  We would just accept they all have a much lower life span than we’d prefer.

There is research being done to extend the life of these storage mediums.  Currently, they are still being tested, and carry a very stiff price to purchase if you can find them.

Using a storage company may be the better alternative like Shutterfly.com. Their services will relieve you of the stress or concern about long term storage.  We recommend you check them out.

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Ron on September 30th, 2009 | File Under Ideas | No Comments -