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Given that they are protected from light, humidity and excessive heat & cold, what is the lifespan range of DVD and Blu-ray discs?

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To be clear, are you talking about consumer-writable discs or discs that have been professionally printed? Or, would you like both to be addressed? – Iszi Feb 28 '11 at 16:23
@Iszi: I would like both to be addressed, if possible. – Mehper C. Palavuzlar Feb 28 '11 at 16:38
up vote 24 down vote accepted


According to the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA), "manufacturers claim life spans ranging from 30 to 100 years for DVD, DVD-R and DVD+R discs and up to 30 years for DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM".


The recordable media used in red laser disc technology like DVD's and CD's is an organic dye that is very sensitive to light. Blu-ray disks, however, use a combination of silicon and copper which is bonded during the burning process, this alloy is much more resilient than the organic dye. Manufacturers claim a life span from 100 up to 150 years for Blu-ray disks.

= However, these media don't exist long enough yet to confirm or reject those claims. So at the moment, it's "about as long as the oldest working DVD/BD is still working". These claims are made assuming the disks are stored properly. (Not too hot, dark, not too humid, etc.) Furthermore, these life spans will be averages, I've used DVD disks that stopped working or showed data corruption after 2 years.

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But if you're talking about the actual plastic and metal, whether or not you can read it, it's about a million years. – Keith Feb 28 '11 at 19:12
@Keith Well I don't see why you'd want to keep just the plastic disk xD – BloodPhilia Feb 28 '11 at 20:51
You may not want to keep it, but the Earth will be keeping it somewhere. – Keith Feb 28 '11 at 21:05
I have several commercial audio CDs from the early 90s which now show pinholes of light coming through if you hold them up to a light source. Obviously, they have data loss. There is no way to tell whether that batch of CDs were weak in some way, or whether they were corroded by handling them or by a solvent like alcohol splashed on them at a party. In this case it seems my license to play the music is fading away. :-( – Stuart Woodward Dec 14 '11 at 21:34
Interesting. I wonder if earlier disks used different dye's to modern ones. Will modern CD's/DVD's last longer than those from the 1990's? – Matt H Dec 17 '12 at 20:26

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