Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have a normal WalMart-style fireproof safe that I use to store important documents. I've also been using it to store backup DVDs, each in its own slim case. This takes up a bit of space though, so I was thinking of putting them into one of the small CD flip folders, and putting the whole folder in the fireproof safe.

Is this safe? Is there a better method to keeping backup CDs safe from a fire?

share|improve this question
I knew that, by fire box, you probably meant a fireproof safe. As an aside, the word "firebox" is actually defined as a chamber in which fuel is burned. – eleven81 Nov 2 '09 at 19:21
Internal temperatures must not exceed around 160 degrees F. – Fiasco Labs Dec 6 '13 at 19:45
up vote 9 down vote accepted

As per Ray Bradbury, the ignition temperature of paper is 451 degrees F. Fireproof boxes and safes are rated with different standards, and ratings that are suitable for paper records only are not suitable for CD/DVDs.

From this vendors page page (just something I grabbed from the Internet - no idea who they are or what their products are like)

UL 72 Fire Resistance Testing Standards
1.6 The interior sample temperature and relative humidity limitations 
applied to the three classes of devices reflect the type of records to 
be stored in the device. Class 350 rated devices are intended to protect 
paper records, Class 150 rated devices are intended to protect paper 
and nonpaper records such as EDP media (magnetic tapes) and photographic 
records, and Class 125 rated devices are intended to also protect flexible 
computer disks. However, nonpaper records are not used as contents for the 
tests described in these requirements since testing to determine the 
ability of all available nonpaper records to withstand these conditions 
is not within the scope of these requirements.

So you really need to ensure the product you buy has the correct rating. Otherwise you are wasting your money on a false sense of security.

share|improve this answer
+1, especially the Bradbury reference :-) – Chris W. Rea Nov 2 '09 at 19:16
Basically, the rating is comparable to the internal temperature reached inside the box during a 1500 degree fire for 30 minutes. So, 350 rated devices will reach 350 degrees (hotter than boiling which will totally wreck CD/DVD's by warping them.) – Blackbeagle Nov 2 '09 at 21:05
Thanks for the info. I checked my box (Sentry Safe H4100), and it specifically mentions CD/DVD protection for 30 minutes. This wasn't clear in the question, but what I'm really wondering about is how the CDs are stored: jewel case, plastic sleeve, flip book, etc. I'm assuming if the case melts onto the CD, it's just as good as the CD being ruined. – jparker Nov 3 '09 at 14:48

I originally thought that you could not safely store CDs and DVDs in a fire safe. I was wrong!

I have learned that Sentry Safe in fact makes fire safes that are suitable for protecting CDs and DVDs from fire.

Be sure that the fire safe you select is in fact suitable for your intended contents. Not all fire safes are equal!

Their web site has a nifty search feature that allow you to pick the size of safe (chest, file box, wall safe, etc.), the items to be protected (documents, DVDs, guns, USB flash drives, etc.), and the threat (fire, flood, theft, etc.). For instance, here are the results for a search for file box safes suitable for protecting CDs, DVDs, and USB flash drives from fire.

I personally own a Sentry Safe similar to this one that I purchased from Walmart a few years ago for about $50 USD. This safe is suitable for storing CDs, DVDs, and USB flash drives. This safe even comes with a CD/DVD holder built into the lid (which mine did not). This safe is also waterproof. This provides me peace-of-mind, for if in the event of a fire limited to another part of the house, the safe were to get wet.

share|improve this answer
Where have you learned that? Who says that you were wrong? The makers of Sentry Safe? – innaM Nov 2 '09 at 18:44
I don't believe downvotes are warranted. The answer may read a bit like a product advertisement, but the poster's reputation and history strongly suggest that s/he should be given the benefit of the doubt. – phenry Nov 2 '09 at 18:53
My down-vote was for the first version of this answer. I removed it. – innaM Nov 3 '09 at 9:41

I guess you could but it doesn't seem to be that viable of a backup plan. Fire safes and the like protect against limited fires and limited water damage, and nothing else. They are usually rated for a certain number of minutes or hours in a fire, and after that... As you mentioned, CDs and DVDs don't store things very densely, plus you have to remember to keep your discs up to date, etc.

I would recommend that since you already have the fire box, it doesn't hurt to use it. But if you are worried about protecting your data, also invest in an online backup provider like Carbonite, Mozy or (the one I use) Backblaze.

share|improve this answer

In addition to storing your back-up CD/DVDs in the fire box, I would suggest creating a second back-up set and asking a trusted frined to store it as well and offering to store a copy of his/her back-ups in return. That way, if you have a disaster you are assured of having a back-up available. Just remember to keep the off-site as current as your on-site.

share|improve this answer

I have a sentry safe fireproof box which I used to store my bluray backups, just recently I tried to use one of the disc and was unable to do so. I looked at the disc and could see rot under the top protective layer. So there was no way to clean this and make it usable again. Such fireproof boxes are well insulated causing humidity and condensation over a few months which can lead to disc rot much sooner then it's lifespan. Something to consider

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .