In my last post I described how my old data CDs may beginning to go bad. I ended the post saying I duped the problem CD and was going to try it in my car. It contained MP3 files recorded as data, not as an audio CD. I duped the CD successfully with Nero. I spot-checked it on my PC, and it seemed to play fine. However, it did not play well at all on my car stereo. I can’t say if the problem was with the same files or not.
The only way I am going to salvage the CD is to remake it from the MP3 files still on my computer. Since it appears to play (at least many of the files) ok on my PC, I won’t throw it away just yet. The good news is the next archive I tested on my car stereo played fine. However, I recorded it in February 2003. The problem CD was recorded in December 1999.
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.
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