SUMMARY: Advice on caring for removable media such as CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays.
Compact Discs (CDs), DVDs, and Blu-Ray Discs are quite fragile. If you have important media with family photos, digital music, or business information that you need to keep for a long time, the following common-sense advice should be heeded:
* Make sure your hands are clean AND DRY when handling media.
Eating lunch at the desk? Clean your hands carefully before inserting or removing discs. Smudged or wet media may not be readable, and worse, particles or water on discs may enter drives, possibly damaging them as well as their containing desktop or laptop!
* Return media in jewel cases (recommended) or protective sleeves (still better than nothing) immediately after use. Dusty discs (and drives you insert such discs into) can suffer damage, so keep your media protected!
* Handle a disc by its outer edge or the center hole and do not put so much pressure that you bend or crack the disc. Do not touch the bottom!
* Take care when inserting discs into slots-loaders, or placing into tray-loaders. Do not force discs into the player.
* Keep media away from direct sunlight, UV light, humid conditions, or in extreme temperature conditions (especially heat). Drastic temperature changes may cause stress to the disc.
* IF labeling a disc, do not write on the side where data is stored. While some consider "Sharpies" safe, you may want to look into CD/DVD-safe pens/markers.
* Make backups of backups on a regular basis. Even when kept in optimal conditions, media can go bad, taking away valuable information with them. For really important information, make backup using different archival media types, such as an external USB hard drive.
For more information, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Digital Media Group has created a CD and DVD Archiving Quick Reference Guide for Care and Handling.
Return to the CDs and DVDs page.
The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language.