Are Your Home Recorded CDs Going Bad?


Like many of you, I have been archiving data and photos on CDRs and DVDs for many years now. True, I currently back up my photos onto external hard drives. But back-ups are a snapshot in time of what your data or photo collection looks like. The longer a single back-up exists, the less valuable it becomes, because as time goes on, the data or photos that are on that backup do not represent the current state of your data or photo collection. That is why we do periodic back-ups. But this article is not about back-ups.

When we archive data or photos our intention is often to move it off of our active storage devices and put it somewhere for safe keeping or to bring back selected items occasionally as needed. Currently, my archive media of choice is CDRs and DVDs that I recorded many years ago in some cases. I know that these CDRs and DVDs do not have an infinite lifespan. To be honest, I am not sure what the current predicted lifespan estimates are. It depends on how well they were recorded, stored, and the quality of the blank that was used to record the data. This brings me to what I just experienced.

Audio MP3 Files

Several months ago, I upgraded my car stereo system with a unit that can play MP3 and other audio formats that have been written to a CDR as data. My earlier car stereo could only play audio CDs. So for many years as I downloaded MP3 audio files I made audio CDs. But I also archived the MP3 files on CDRs. The big difference here is that typically an audio CD held anywhere from 20-25 songs, depending upon there length. But my archive CDRs could hold several times that number. Now I could play one of my archive CDRs directly in my car.

Well, the other day I loaded one of these archive CDRs, and initially it played well in my car. This particular CDR was made on 12-31-1999. After playing through several songs the first thing I noticed was that occasionally the music would stop for a second and pick up again without skipping a note it appeared. As the CDR progressed through the large number of songs, I noticed it was skipping 4-5 songs at a time. It finally played to the end, but had skipped many songs.

Today, I decided to see if I could salvage the the CDR. I use Nero to duplicate CDs and DVDs. On one of my computers, I have two drives. The first CD compatible drive had trouble reading the CDR. I put it in the other drive and I appear to have made a valid copy without any errors. I will now go and try to play it on my car stereo all the way through. Hopefully, I indeed got a good copy. If it is still bad, I am not too worried. I have audio CDs for all of the songs, and I still have the MP3 files on my computer as well. By the way, I use Photoshop Elements to manage my music files in a separate Catalog from my photos. I then back them up repeatedly with PSE’s Back-up command.

To be honest I have no idea whether my archive CDR went bad, or whether it was bad from day one. I do know two things, however. The CDR recording software/hardware we had back then was not nearly as good as we have today. Also, this particular CDR had a paper label on it, which I now know is a no-no. But, I am now going play all of my archive audio CDs in my car to check to see if others suffer from the same problem. Once that is done, I will probably copy them on to a new CDR, so I can start their lifespan clock all over.

I took a quick look of my Favorites websites and came acrossthis article that was written in 2006. It might be worth a read.

I’ll keep you posted on what I find as I go through my archived MP3 data CDRs.

Leave a comment and let me know what experiences you have had with CDRs and DVDs recorded some time ago.

Also, if you are on Facebook, I would appreciate it if you would Like my Facebook Page. There is a link to do that in the upper right corner of this page. Thanks a lot.

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5 thoughts on “Are Your Home Recorded CDs Going Bad?

  1. Went to the link and might think about archiving on tape but don’t know anything about it. Is there an external machine that can be used and how expensive is the machine and tapes?

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  2. Pingback: Archive Data CDs Going Bad Revisited « Don's Digital Photo Corner – Blog

  3. Hi don
    I have been busy in the realestate world, and pritty much out of my computer, just now and again keeping up todate with your blog, I am lookiong forward to taken more of your classes please let know what you have in store for the, I really need to understand more about the backup with Elerments back up

    Like

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