CD Scratch Protection
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CDS AGAINST CD ROT
CDs have been promoted as being damage-proof, but in reality they’re very fragile.
Part of the problem is that most people believe that it’s the clear underside of the CD that is fragile, when in fact it’s the side with the label. Scratches on the underside have to be fairly deep to cause skipping, while scratches on the top can easily penetrate to the aluminum layer. Even the pressure of a pen on the label side can dent the aluminum, rendering the CD unreadable.
Compact Discs, whilst more durable than vinyl, are far more touchy than most users realize. Over time, even the oil from a fingerprint can corrode the surface and wreck one. Tiny scratches can actually be worse than large ones, if they follow the circular curve of the disc where data are stored, experts say.
While no organization counts spoiled discs, one CD-repair company, Azuradisc in New Mexico, estimates that 4 percent of the 7.5 billion existing CDs are wrecked, or about 300 million discs. Record-industry executives say that’s overstated, but even a more-conservative estimate of a 1 percent damage rate adds up to $1 billion of worthless discs.
Record companies are taking no blame for any of this, saying they included handling instructions with early discs. “Compact discs will last 50 to 100 years if they are properly used,” says a spokesman for Sony Music.
Like a good wine, CDs should be stored in a cool, dry place. CD owners that bend a disc to remove it from a hard-gripping case are practically urging the onset of CD Rot, because flexing the disc puts strain on the glue. As with all precious items, be gentle with your discs. For maximum longevity, discs should be stored vertically and only be handled by the edges. Don’t stick labels on them, and in the case of write-once CDs, don’t write on them with anything but soft water-based or alcohol-based markers. Most importantly of all, once you have listened to a disc, put it back in it’s protective case. Leaving it in the disc player or at the mercy of the outside world can take years off its life.