Taking care of CDs


  1. Handle discs by the outer edge or the center hole.
  2. Use a non-solvent-based felt-tip permanent marker to mark the label side of the disc.
  3. Keep dirt or other foreign matter from the disc.
  4. Store discs upright (book style) in plastic cases specified for CDs and DVDs.
  5. Return discs to storage cases immediately after use.
  6. Leave discs in their packaging (or cases) to minimize the effects of environmental changes.
  7. Open a recordable disc package only when you are ready to record data on that disc.
  8. Store discs in a cool, dry, dark environment in which the air is clean.
  9. Remove dirt, foreign material, fingerprints, smudges, and liquids by wiping with a clean cotton fabric in a straight line from the center of the disc toward the outer edge.
  10. Use CD/DVD-cleaning detergent, isopropyl alcohol, or methanol to remove stubborn dirt or material.
  11. Check the disc surface before recording.

Do not:

  1. Touch the surface of the disc.
  2. Bend the disc.
  3. Use adhesive labels.
  4. Store discs horizontally for a long time (years).
  5. Open a recordable optical disc package if you are not ready to record.
  6. Expose discs to extreme heat or high humidity.
  7. Expose discs to extremely rapid temperature or humidity changes.
  8. Expose recordable discs to prolonged sunlight or other sources of ultraviolet light.
  9. Write or mark in the data area of the disc (the area the laser “reads” ).
  10. Clean by wiping in a direction going around the disc.

For CDs especially do not:

  1. Scratch the label side of the disc.
  2. Use a pen, pencil, or fine-tip marker to write on the disc.
  3. Write on the disc with markers that contain solvents.
  4. Try to peel off or reposition a label.

There is consensus that, under recommended storage conditions, CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs should have a life expectancy of 100 to 200 years or more; CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM discs should have a life expectancy of 25 years or more. Little information is available for CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs (including audio and video), resulting in an increased level of uncertainty for their life expectancy. Expectations vary from 20 to 100 years for these discs.

  • CD-R and DVD-R discs have a shelf life of 5 to 10 years before recording.
  • The life expectancy for RW and RAM discs will be less than that of R discs.

The data on the phase-changing metal alloy film layer can be erased and rewritten to a limited number of times (about 1,000 times for RW discs and about 100,000 times for RAM discs).