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Maybe it's completely a superstition, but I was told when I was younger to never ever write on the back of burnable media. Does this have any basis in fact? I was told that it weakened the discs which would cause them to break.

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Well, you have the data there. When you write on them, you use a paint/ink/whatsoever, which got different components. – Shiki May 25 '11 at 23:09
Well, I definitely wouldn't write on the actual data side, sorry for not being clear. – Naftuli Tzvi Kay May 26 '11 at 0:27
Just a guess. Some devices heat up the disk quite a bit when reading it full-time. I even had a disk explode once. (Probably a bad device though). So you may want to make sure the ink handle the heat correctly. (maybe some bad inks burn at low enough temperatures ?) – mveroone Oct 1 '13 at 7:34
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can damage data by writing on CDs in one of two ways:

  1. Scratching - as @francis mentioned, if you use a hard-tip pen or pencil you may scratch the material and create enough damage that the reading laser won't be able to "see" certain sectors
  2. Ink seepage - if you use a fountain pen, or a type of marker that leaves a great deal of ink behind, it might seep to the other side, and again destroy readable areas.

My suggestion is: just use a sharpie, or pens dedicated to writing on burnable media. And don't press too hard :)

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Well yeah if you carve a inscription into them with a ballpoint pen, it might have issues. Soft tips like sharpies should be fine however.

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none whatsoever. writing on cds with felt tip, permanant markers is an accepted way of labelling them. Just don't use a ballpoint, but this is cause it'd damage the data layer.

Chances of a cd breaking in a cd drive takes are slim since it takes a fair bit

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Needless to say, also make sure the writing is completely dry before putting in the drive or stacking another disc on top of it.

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Using a sharpie or similar is fine. However, if you use a pencil, ballpoint pen, or other hard-tipped pen, you won't be able to write on it AND you risk losing data.

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