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'Magnetic tapes better storage devices than recordable discs'

The lifespan of recordable CDs/DVDs has been the subject of little discussion. Research out of IBM Deutschland suggests that magnetic tapes are still better long-term storage devices than optical discs.

In an interview with Computerworld, Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland GmbH says that, unlike pre-recorded CDs, burned CDs can have a lifespan as short as two years for the cheap brand, and up to five years for the better quality names. As long as the lifespan of recordables is not a selling point, customers cannot distinguish amongst the various discs on the market.

Material degradation is the problem, according to the researcher. "Optical discs commonly used for burning, such as CD-R and CD-RW, have a recording surface consisting of a layer of dye that can be modified by heat to store data. The degradation process can result in the data 'shifting' on the surface and thus becoming unreadable to the laser beam."

To overcome the preservation limitations of recordable optical discs, Gerecke suggests using magnetic tapes, which "can have a lifespan of 30 to 100 years, depending on their quality." They are still the superior storage media," he said in the Computerworld interview.

Gerecke's advice is for consumers and business alike "to be constantly looking at new storage technologies" and have a migration strategy to preserve their assets.

Story filed 11.01.06

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