Saturday, May 17, 2008

Caring for Your Photo CD/DVDs

Many people think CD/DVDs are indestructible. As with anything, you need to take what you hear and read with a grain of salt. Some sites claim CD/DVDs should have a data life of up to at least 75 years if handled properly. Some say 100. Others say 200.

Type of media - archival versus consumer - accounts for some of the variance in data life. Not all of these estimates "include the effect of the storage container ... [and] instead assume that the case is inert." Ask your photographer what type of media they're using for your CD/DVD and if the sleeve or case is safe for long-term storage. Also check to see if the insert is acid- and lignin-free.

"Assuming a good initial recording and proper care, consumer grade media can last from one to five years. Professional or industrial-grade media can last from five to 75 years. True archival-grade media, often with a reflective layer of gold, can last 75 to 200 years [Peterson]." Knowing what type of media you're starting with, allows you to backup your memories for safekeeping.

Here are some tips for how to protect your memories:

  1. Label a CD/DVD using a CD/DVD safe pen.

  2. Store CD/DVD in Polypropylene jewel cases, vertically - not flat. ("[T]he little clip in the middle of the jewel case actually holds the CD/DVD away from both sides of the case so that the recording surface only contacts air. [Peterson]")

  3. Store out of direct light.

  4. Handle CD/DVD by the edges.

  5. Wipe them off periodically with a clean, soft, lint free, dry cloth - wipe in a straight line from the center of the CD/DVD toward the outer edge.

  6. Keep dirt, fingerprints, smudges, etc. from the CD/DVD. Use CD/DVD cleaning detergent to remove stubborn dirt or material.

  1. Touch the surface of a CD/DVD.

  2. Handle CD/DVD with dirty fingers.

  3. Bend CD/DVD.

  4. Label a CD/DVD using a pen that contains solvents (i.e. permanent markers), a pencil, or a ballpoint pen.

  5. Label a CD/DVD with an adhesive label. "According to 3M, an adhesive label may react with the CD/DVD [Dutton]."

  6. Peel off or reposition a label. "According to 3M, ... removing the label ... can damage the information layer of the CD/DVD by allowing contaminants to penetrate the protective coating [Dutton]."

  7. Store CD/DVD in a plastic sleeve. (If you're not sure if your sleeves are acid-free, check the box; if there's a warning, don't use them for storage. TYVEK® envelopes can be used.).

  8. Wipe CD/DVD in a circular direction.

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