10 Ways to Make Your CDs and DVDs Last Longer

When your favorite CD the one that you play on repeat in car or room skips a note, you know you’re in trouble! Don’t fret; there are many simple ways to increase the shelf life of your prized discs.

1. Watch Your CD Wallets
Those slim, zippered CD wallets certainly make it easy to transport your CDs from one place to another, but they should never be used for long-term storage.

2. Handle DVDs with Care
DVDs are more susceptible to damage by scratches and mishandling than CDs. That’s because DVDs cram a lot more information into a comparable amount of space (up to 4.7 GB per side which is more than six times as much). Never touch the disc’s flat surface; rather, always hold it with one finger in the center hole and the other fingers around the outside edge.
When removing a DVD from its case, always be sure to press the button on the center hub and push downward on it.

3. Keep CDs off the Dashboard
if you keep a CD wallet in your car, never, ever; leave it on the dashboard or front seat in hot climates or during the summer months.

4. Don’t Buy Blanks in Bulk
That’s because the organic dye used to record the data on the disc will eventually spoil if it is not used. Although CD-R and DVD-R manufacturers say blank, unused discs have five-year shelf life, that claim has not been confirmed by independent testing, and you won’t find any expiration dates on the packaging.

5. Keep Your Discs Clean
CDs and DVDs need to be kept free of dust and fingerprints. Cleaning is just a matter of wiping your discs with a damp, non rough cloth for e.g.; the cloths designed to clean eyeglasses are ideal.

Gently wipe the disc by moving the cloth in a curved line from the inside hole to the outer edge. Don’t wipe in a circular motion.

6. Repair a Scratched Disc
Do you have a scratched CD or DVD that’s headed for the trash? Before you toss it, try fixing it with some good quality metal polish. The idea is to use the polish to smooth out the scratch so the player’s laser can read the data; you don’t necessarily have to make the scratches disappear. Use a soft cloth to rub a couple of drops of polish into the disc until the scratch is almost gone. Scratches are best handled by rubbing along the direction of the scratch.
In case you can’t find polish; Non-gel white toothpaste and car wax are two choices.

7. Avoid Back up Rewriteable CDs
Rewriteable CD (CD-RW) should never be used for archival purposes. Although they’re designed specifically for data backups, CD-RWs are fundamentally different from CD-Rs. CD-RWs are less stable, more sensitive to heat damage, and have a much shorter lifespan than CD-Rs.

8. Stick to Longhand Labeling
The need to label your home-recorded CD-Rs and DVD-Rs is obvious; how else will you identify them? Although there’s no shortage of labeling kits on the market, you may want to think twice before using any of them. It’s best to simply write the information in the printed area of the disc with a non solvent based felt tip pen. Never use a ballpoint pen, pencil, or other types of permanent markers, as they’re likely to destroy the disc or the data.

9. Save as Data Instead of Music
When storing music files onto a CD-R or recordable DVD for archival purposes, experts recommend recording them as WAV files rather than as CD Audio files. You won’t be able to play the discs on most home or portable CD players, but you’ll be getting some added insurance on the reliability of your music in return. When a scratch or other flaw causes a loss of data on an audio CD, it’s typically heard as a loud click or pop as the CD is played. All computer data files (including WAV files), however, have an extra level of error correction that provides additional protection against data loss with fewer audible artifacts.

10. Use Slower Speeds for Archival Audio Recording
If you decide to use the CD Audio format when making archival copies of your digital music, it’s a good idea to record the discs at a slow speed, preferably 4x. Higher speeds are fine for recording data, where significant error correction is inserted during the burn. But when the lack of error correction in the CD Audio format is combined with irregularities in the quality of the blank media and inaccuracies of the laser during recording, the end result can be inferior-sounding discs. A slow speed makes sure you’re getting the best-possible recording.

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