What: Data Disks Die After 5 yrs!

I now have about 37 out of a possible 200 Cd & DVD “coasters” sitting in front of me. These are disks that hold data as back-ups files, and have being collected since the use of the CD Burner was adopted: heck since the first use of a computer. Since 1998 these disks have being piling up and stored on and off site for legal reasons. They are great for archival purposes because they contain what would amount to several boxes of paper each, and accessing and searching for files on a disk is more efficient than picking through reams of paper in a filing cabinet.

So what happened to the disks? My task was to go inspect and verify that each disk was accounted for and checking it against the archive log so that our cataloging system is up to date. I started from he beginning, and before I knew it, the task turned into a job as the first four disks were unreadable. I noticed that on some disks small dark cracks were visible and another had small black dots, like a rash. Most of the unreadable disks had no visible marks, they just didn’t work.

There was a pattern to all of this. Most of the bad disks were from 2002 and back, while all but two disks were from 2002 to the present. Out of 420 disks, CDs and DVDs, the CDs were the worse for wear while DVDs seems to be in good shape.

It seems that burning one hard-copy disk is not enough. Over time all that data will need to be transfered over to new mediums because locking disks up in the archive is not a out-of-sight out-of-mind everything will be peachy fine, you still need to check up on them as time slowly eats away randomly at each disk. So now we burn up to four disks per one back-up file; we keep two on premise, and two off, hoping that if one fails there is a back-up for the back-ups.

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