How Long Will Your Files Last

Did you know common optical discs used for back up — are only expected to last 3 to 5 years.
–PC Pitstop

How Long Will Your Files Last

By Bob Rankin

Will Your Files Last a Thousand Years?

Would you be surprised to learn that standard CD and DVD discs have an expected lifespan of just 3 to 5 years? If your precious memories are backed up on optical discs, you might want to go looking for a medium that will protect your documents and photos a bit longer. How about a solution that promises 1000 years? Read on…

Long-Term File Storage

The Acer Aspire V5-561P is a “run of the mill” $550, 15-inch ultra-slim notebook, according to Cnet’s review, except for one extraordinary feature: its DVD writer can store data on discs that will still be readable 1,000 years from now. However, Acer doesn’t deem this feature important enough to mention on the V5-561P’s product information pages. So should you get excited about it?

The developer of this long-lived data storage technology, Milleniata LLC, sure thinks so. On a Web site that’s long on gee-whiz and short on technical details, the virtues of M-DISC optical discs and read/write drives are extolled from every angle. Here is how M-DISC works:

Standard CD/DVD technology uses a laser beam to heat a layer of organic dye that is sandwiched between polycarbonate sheets. The heated point, which can be very tiny, first swells like a bubble and finally collapses into a pit in the dye layer. A pattern of pit/no-pit areas on the disc’s surface constitute binary code that can be read by the same laser that wrote it. That is, the pattern can be read as long as the laser-burnt pits last.

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Excerpt shared with permission from Bob Rankin.

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2 thoughts on “How Long Will Your Files Last”

  1. People have been saying this since before the dawn of burning. While I concede there is widespread evidence of rot in the Laserdisc space, I’ve never had a CD or DVD bite the bullet. Pressed or burned, the only time I ever lose a disc it’s due strictly to negligent care on my part (scratches, cracks, etc) or natural disaster. I still have burned discs from the 90s that function perfectly. I don’t always use the best discs either. Sure I prefer Taiyo Yudens for unmatched burn quality, but I’m not above saving a few cents when I see a good sale on the cheapest CMCs or even questionably sourced offbrands.

    I’d be willing to bet if anyone has a bad disc it started with a bad burn. Research your hardware before you buy it, there are numerous places with published reviews and user forums where burners and discs are discussed at dizzying length. In these modern times it’s not even difficult to understand for tech illiterates, there are graphs of disc scans so anyone with at least one functioning eyeball can make an accurate assessment. Your burner matters much more than the media you’re writing to, a crap burner will make a crap disc out of anything.

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