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Our company has been in the CD-R business for years and we've worked with many clients who use discs for archiving. Here are some tips we recommend to clients....

1. Anytime you plan on long-time storage, don't use paper labels. The paper is very sensitive to humidity. It can contract and expand. If the paper expands or contracts, the glue holding the paper to the disc surface can pull away the lacquer & reflective layer. The reflective layer sits right above the dye layer. When the reflective layer and dye layer pull away, the information on the disc will be lost. (This was an experience the Smithsonian had with some archived discs stored in a cabinet/locker that was very dry).

2. Try to go with a true gold disc if you want to seriously archive. A gold reflective layer disc with Phthalocyanine dye has a shelf life of almost 300 years, compared to under 100 for a silver Phthalocyanine dye disc, and less than 30 for a Cyanine discs. Basically, the metal in the silver disc can oxidize, and the gold doesn't, so there's no breakdown of the refective layer. Watch out for some gold discs that are just a gold screen print on the surface. MAM-A uses real gold reflective layers, while Verbatim and Falcon archive grade discs combine a gold reflective layer with a silver reflective layer. If you can't go gold, at least go with a silver Phthalocyanine disc.

3. In general, avoid writing on discs with Sharpies. Use water-based markers. Ordinary felt tipped markers use solvents that can attack the protective coating on CDs and ruin your data or music. (You can tell by the strong smell of the felt tip whether it's solvent based). There hasn't been many reports of this actually happening, but long term storage simulation tells us this could be a problem down the road.

4. The jewel case remains the preferred storage method for archiving, though some choose to use DVD cases, Tyvek sleeves or paper sleeves. We strongly recommend avoiding paper sleeves for archiving purposes. Paper creates more dust and is more abrasive than Tyvek. No matter how you choose to store your archive discs, make sure you store them vertically, never stacked. Keep the discs in a dark place, away from excessive heat and humidity, and try to avoid subjecting the archive discs to extreme temperature changes. Ultraviolet light, heat and humidity can cause damage to your discs.

5. When you have to handle the disc, always grip it around the outer edge. Never touch the recording surface.

6. If you have to clean the disc, canned air is the best way to remove dust. If you get dirt that cannot be removed with canned air or fingerprints on the read side of the disc, use a disc or lens cleaning cloth in conjunction with disc cleaning solution or water, if needed. Wipe the disc from the center hub to the outer edge. Never wipe the disc in a circular motion.

7. Always make an extra backup copy, just in case something happens to the original.

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