CD-R Media Longevity

New Update

A major news magazine misquotes the National Media Lab's data. Read our Special Report on CD Media Longevity Misrepresented in US News & World Report.

A report from the National Media Lab-funded media compatibility tests (link no longer available) offers some more insight into CD testing methods and some recent results.


CD-Recordable is a young and rapidly growing field within the larger Compact Disc industry. The technology is complex and exacting, and is still evolving. There are many questions in people's minds about the technology and its uses, but this section focuses on the expected lifespan of the recordable discs themselves. Please refer to the Technology Overview section in this site for articles on other topics relating to CD-R. The glossary of CD and CD-Recordable terminology provides some basic information about the technology.

The Issues

One of the primary applications for CD-Recordable is archiving. To consider CD-R a viable medium for this purpose, obviously some data on the reliability and expected lifespan of discs is required by those responsible for preserving important information. CD-R is a new technology, however, and estimating lifespans expected to be many decades for a medium that is less than fifteen years old requires sophisticated accelerated aging techniques and rigorous testing methodologies whose results may not be easy to interpret. Also, because the media itself has been relatively expensive, testing by independent agencies has been rare. Since prices have dropped significantly, that situation may change soon.

Recently two organizations, the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) and the Special Interest Group for CD Applications and Technology (SIGCAT) have conducted tests for compatibility with recorders and players, but longevity testing remains relatively uncommon.

The Manufacturers

Several of the leading manufacturers of CD-R media have provided information about their products for this section. These links will be made active as the material is released. Thank you for your patience!

· Kodak
· Maxell
· Taiyo Yuden
· Verbatim


The controversy surrounding CD and CD-R media longevity and readability continues. See our Special Report about a recent article in US News and World Report that misstates the facts.

Another comment on an earlier print media brouhaha about CD-R media life expectancy is provided here by Dana Parker.

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