July 08, 2010
By David Reid, Reporter, BBC Click

Preserving precious data, such as pictures and home videos, on CDs and DVDs could do more damage than good in the end.

That’s what the French National Centre for Scientific Research has found out after testing the longevity of the portable media.

“We were surprised to see that the lifetime of discs, some of which were designed to last for centuries, actually rarely lasted longer than five to 10 years,” said physicist Franck Laloe.

“In the most severe cases, which were happily quite rare, the data on some discs lasted just one year,” he said.

Unlike audio and video tapes that wear out with play, discs are read with a laser so there is no physical contact.

However, the surface which contains more than seven miles of data is deteriorating with age.

Varied quality

French scientists calculated the likely life-span of a disc by artificially aging it with heat, water vapour and light.

They found CD quality varied even across the same brand …

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