View Full Version : Old CD-Rs Inreadable

01-12-2006, 01:59 PM
Sorry about the title - don't know what I was typing...

Help - I have several CD-Rs I recorded back in 2000 and 2001 that I can no longer read - photos and home videos. I tried all 3 of my computers but no luck. Is there a way to recover this data? On some I can see the directory of files but cannot copy (cyclic read error?). Others don't show anything and often make the computer "hang".
What CD-Rs are recommended for long life? What is the age limit? I have now heard 2 extremes: 3 to 4 tears of like and decades of life

01-12-2006, 02:08 PM
Red, Are they scratched? If so I recommend a CD cleaner dealy such as
http://www.cdscratchremover.com/ You can also find them at WalMart, Circuit City etc.
Is the plastic cloudy? Never use Windex etc to clean them. You might be able to use toothpaste watered down on a lint free cloth and rub it out. Rub in a circular motion around the disk till clear then use the scratch remover.

I use name brand CD-R's and DVD's. Some of the cheapies have gone bad on me or just wouldn't burn.
They should last forever if taken care of correctly.
Hope this helps.
Da taz

01-12-2006, 02:29 PM
Not scratched and have been out of the sleeve in years - hardly used

01-12-2006, 03:14 PM
REDDOG - keep trying to read the disks on various computers. You may get lucky and find a computer that can read it. If so, copy to that computers hard drive asap. It may only read it a few times and then crap out on ya. If the disks went thru a tough storage/shelf life you are probably out of luck or if they were cheap no name disks the same out of luck would apply.

Type the following into google or your favorite search engine:
cd-r life
The life range seems to be 2-100 years. All depends on quality of disk and speed/quality of the burn when disk was created. This is even more of an issue when you start burning dvd disks.

The dark colored shiny surface you are burning on is really a film of reflective ink. It really doesn't take much to screw this up and make the disk have bad spots, partially unreadable, a pile of crap aka coaster, etc. The laser is burning microscopic dots into that layer of reflective ink. If the laser light does not reflect back off of those tiny ass dots correctly, guess what... no read or partial bad read.

Things that will kill a disk are storage temps too cold or hot, cheap ass ink - cheap disks, too fast burn speed, warped disk, and of course dirt, scratches, cloudy film, etc. I'm sure there are other things but that is the basic stuff.

We all got used to commerical music cd disks being pretty much indestructable. This is not the case with cd-r, cd-rw, dvd+/ - burnable disks. They are actually kind of fragile. Bottom line is you get what you pay for. Buy excellent quality disks, burn at very slow speed, and keep disk in a jewel case that is in a temp and humidity controlled environment.

By the way, a bunch of new burnable disks are now out that have special things done to them to address archiving and unreadable disk issues. I believe they have better inks, plastics, and protective coverings.

01-12-2006, 09:35 PM
Try an older, lower speed drive. I have had better luck reading hard to read CDs with read only drives not R/Ws. Keep trying different drives...


01-12-2006, 09:41 PM
An old "junker" Win 98 laptop of mine that is on the verge of be tossed was able to read / recover 2 of the CDs. A video file I was looking for will be posted in the Fishing Files soon once converted to MPG.

I'll take my other disks to a friend who has a few new and old computers and see if he can read the others and transfer them to my external hard drive.

01-12-2006, 10:28 PM
:biggrin.: Just keep hittin' it...


01-12-2006, 11:15 PM
Bad news unfortunately.... a German IBM physicist made an announcement this week that CDR media is unreliable for long term backups and that magnetic tape should be used to long term backups. Said something to the effect of CDR only being reliable for 2-5 years max. I had some media that I recorded back in 1999 and found that more than 50% of the disks were bad. The only ones that survived were some real expensive Kodak media that I bought.

01-12-2006, 11:25 PM
Here's the story from Computerworld....

"JANUARY 10, 2006 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Although opinions vary on how to preserve data on digital storage media, such as optical CDs and DVDs, Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland GmbH, takes this view: If you want to avoid having to burn new CDs every few years, use magnetic tapes to store all your pictures, videos and songs for a lifetime.

"Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the CD," Gerecke said in an interview this week. "There are a few things you can do to extend the life of a burned CD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark space, but not a whole lot more."

The problem is material degradation. Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data "shifting" on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam.

"Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a life span of around two years," Gerecke said. "Some of the better-quality discs offer a longer life span, of a maximum of five years."

Distinguishing high-quality burnable CDs from low-quality discs is difficult, he said, because few vendors use life span as a selling point.

Hard-drive disks also have their limitations, according to Gerecke. The problem with hard drives, he said, is not so much the disk itself as it is the disk bearing, which has a positioning function similar to a ball bearing. "If the hard drive uses an inexpensive disk bearing, that bearing will wear out faster than a more expensive one," he said. His recommendation: a hard-drive disk with 7,200 revolutions per minute.

To overcome the preservation limitations of burnable CDs, Gerecke suggests using magnetic tapes, which, he claims, can have a life span of 30 to 100 years, depending on their quality. "Even if magnetic tapes are also subject to degradation, they're still the superior storage media," he said.

But he's quick to point out that no storage medium lasts forever and, consequently, consumers and business alike need to have a plan for migrating to new storage technologies.

"Companies, in particular, need to be constantly looking at new storage technologies and have an archiving strategy that allows them to automatically migrate to new technologies," he said. "Otherwise, they're going to wind up in a dead end. And for those sitting on terabytes of crucial data, that could be a colossal problem." "

01-13-2006, 08:20 AM
I did not know that. This has been an informing thread.
I guess it's time to get the ol tape drive back out but they are so friggin slow and noisy.
I will do some research on tapes and drives and post recommendations.
Da Taz