What’s the shelf life of your CD collection?


Does your CD collection, for lack of a better term, have a shelf life, wherein the music may no longer play?  How about those DVDs of your favorite movies or TV shows? Yep, even physical media has risks beyond warped vinyl, unspooled tape or scratched discs.


The Atlantic has a great piece on the Library of Congress and their efforts to determine the shelf life of CDs and DVDs, since tons of data are stored on the media, with the potential to rot away and the loss of the data on them.

Frustratingly, disc manufacturers are not cooperating with them, and it’s apparent from the testing that the formulas each manufacturer followed to make discs evolved, meaning some discs will last longer than others. DVDs are deemed more fragile than CDs, given their denser data structure.

Of course, the question then becomes, what about cloud, hard drive or flash based storage? Well, there’s problems with those two, which just reinforces what’s been emphasized about backing things up.

For those who are anal about their collections, or just are curious about the limitations of physical media, it’s a great read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *