Still Storing Data on CDs & DVDs? It’s Time to Consider Modern Alternatives.

Although recordable compact discs – or CD-Rs, as we all know and love them – are 40 years old, they’re all dead. Sure, you can still buy them if you know where to look, and some individuals and businesses still use them. But, since about the mid-2000s, sales of these once-game-changing discs have been steadily declining in sales and use.

Today, technologies such as streaming and cloud storage that were nascent in the heyday of CD-Rs are now the status quo. In case you need further proof of this, you’ll be hard-pressed to find new laptops with built-in optical drives – desktops still have them, but gone are the days where they are sincerely needed.

All of this is to say that in 2021, if your business is still using CD-Rs to store digital assets and information, it’s time to consider modern alternatives, like beefy thumb drives, external hard drives, and cloud storage.

CD-Rs Have Limited Storage

While 700MB of storage used to go a long way, it doesn’t anymore. This was the maximum amount of write space for most CD-Rs at any given time, although DVDs could have as much as 4.7GB of space and Blue-ray discs have a “whopping” 25GB of storage.

That sounds like a lot, but consider that external hard drives and even thumb drives can store many times that amount of data – often for a negligible cost difference. Not only that, but they aren’t prone to the same kind of damage and degradation that can afflict discs. If you opt for the cloud, you’re looking at potentially limitless, secure data storage with the only considerable variables being your Internet speed and willingness to pay regular fees for storage.

CD-Rs Aren’t Made to Last

All optical discs fundamentally work the same way: They’re coated with a photosensitive dye that gets heated up by the optical drive laser. During the “burning” process, reflective sections in the CD are created, which are analogous to the grooves in a vinyl record. When a burned CD is read later on, the optical drive’s laser looks for these reflective sections and interprets them as stored data, like a record player needle does to vinyl.

As extraordinary as this technology is, however, it’s very prone to failure. Scratches and fingerprints can damage the readable surface of the CD-R, making it impossible for the laser to read the disc. When discs are improperly stored, they can warp just enough for the same to happen.

While the Library of Congress determined that disc storage could last 30 or more years, these were under conditions in which exposure to heat, humidity, and light was extremely limited. Essentially, you might get 30+ years out of an optical disc if you hermetically seal the thing in a temperature-controlled chamber, which probably isn’t a tax-deductible business expense. Most people, however, can expect 5-10 years out of their discs, which means some that you burned back in the mid-2000s might be no good anymore.

Even if your optical discs did remain in working condition for decades, you’d have to consider future-proofing access to the data on them. External optical drives can be purchased very cheaply, but again, this shouldn’t be the backbone of your digital asset management strategy. If anything, you should be purchasing a $30 drive to get the data off of your old discs and onto safer, more reliable technologies, like external hard drives and clouds.

Make the Move to More Reliable Storage Methods

External hard drives and thumb drives aren’t perfect, but they’re more viable and future-proof alternatives in an era where CD-Rs have completely fallen from relevance. While your company will do well to replace your aging CD-Rs with these drives, your best bet for long-term storage that won’t go out of style anytime soon is cloud storage.

We at Acro Photo Print Inc. can help you explore your options for cloud storage and other methods for digital document archiving. If you have loose paperwork in addition to what’s on your old CD-Rs, we can help you scan and digitize these documents into any of a variety of formats. In doing so, you can rest assured that all of your company’s records and information can be properly preserved for the future!

For more information, please contact Acro Photo Print Inc. online!