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I came across M-disks boasting a lifespan of 1000 years and resistance to harsh environmental conditions. Is this based on some new technology or is it just the same as the other disks with approximately 5 year life span for data protection?

There is a 100 GB version of this on Amazon.

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    you will only really know in 1000 years. – Musselman Jul 29 '16 at 6:21
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    something about using just one disk being less sensible than re-recording on multiple disks with backup copies, etc and so forth – user1306322 Jul 29 '16 at 9:14
  • Seems dodgy, as they're sending something back that is supposedly readable by home cd/dvd drives, so there will be fairly strict tolerances on to how much they can change the disk. Plus who cares if my CD has stone in the middle of it, as the data is on the surface layers! So all this seems to be doing is maybe preventing snapped discs. – cjb110 Jul 29 '16 at 9:55
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    @Xavierjazz This isn't necessarily spam. M-disk compatibility is already being advertised in otherwise normal CD drives that make it to OEMs (and probably individual buyers). Hence, for those that do already have this drive (I wasn't even aware of this until I began looking for low-level details on my OEM's drive) this is a question of selecting a recording medium based on technical merits and drawbacks. – nanofarad Jul 29 '16 at 11:36
  • If you put the amazon link in, Stack Exchange will get the referral bonus if anyone buys it. (Just a thought.) – wizzwizz4 Jul 29 '16 at 14:33
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A theoretical lifespan of 1000 years is actually not that big. Factory-produced CD-ROMs which were replicated from a master-disk are expected to last for 100 years or more, but of course you cannot put your data on these. Next come gold-plated CD-R and DVD-R disks which are claimed to last for about 100-200 years by the manufacturer. Those claims are based on accelerated ageing tests, just like with M-Disks, so for me they sound just as valid. I still have my CD-Rs I have recorded 20 years ago, so the lifespan of regular CD-R disks is not 5 years like you said, unless perhaps you go for the cheapest ones. But if you really have found that disks which should last 100 years only last 5 in your environment, I would reasonably expect that a 1000-year lifespan disk should last about 50.

The real problem your descendants will likely to encounter in 100 years (let alone 1000 years) is to find the equipment to read the old disks you have left them. Typical CD and DVD drives are designed to last for 5 to 10 years of normal usage, and have perhaps 15 to 30 years of shelf life. It's hard to predict for how many more years CDs and DVDs will remain in use, but they will disappear eventually, and then your kinds will have a hard time reading those disks no matter how much you have paid for them.

Personally, I keep my data on a couple of hard drives, and copy it over to newer ones every 10 years or so. Sure, I'll need 200 HDDs over a thousand years, but I won't ever encounter troubles reading my backups on modern computers, and the capacity will keep growing over time, accommodating new data. If I decided to use M-disks instead, I'd have to buy new disks for new data ($30 for 50 GB on amazon) every year, so it would be more expensive, and my old M-disks would still age.

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    You don't need to worry about the equipment. By then, the aliens who decode the Voyager disk will come to visit and they'll have the technology. – fixer1234 Jul 29 '16 at 8:01
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    @fixer1234 We don't need aliens, the technology to read old disks is already here. Now try to find a commercially available device to read an 8" floppy. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jul 29 '16 at 8:06
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    That's what makes the US nuclear arsenal so secure; nobody else still has working 8" floppy drives. – fixer1234 Jul 29 '16 at 8:13
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    "I'll need 200 HDDs over a thousand years" -- this is what they call a good problem to have. – Steve Jessop Jul 29 '16 at 10:58
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    Fun story: I had saved some (rather) old Zip Disks (remember those) and made sure I saved the external drive as well (and copied its driver from a 3.5" floppy to CD-R). Recently I wanted to check if I had a certain data set on those disks, and when I went to get the data, I discovered that, while I had the disks and drive, the drive needed to be connected to a parallel port, and none of my computers had one! – TMN Jul 29 '16 at 15:55
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Yes, as they are advertising it, the M-Disc contains a data layer which is made out of stone-like metals and metalloids. As you know that the home-made optical discs have a soft data layer and the layer is not resistant to heat, humidity, light, etc. but the M-Disc is very much different than the home-made discs.

You also know the US DoD test and how the M-Discs survives the extreme humidity and light for 24 hours.

M-Discs also use the coating of polycarbonate. If that's true then you can be sure of one thing that it can hold up to extreme temperature and light. Experts are saying that the polycarbonate coating in M-Discs is good for 1000 years.

So the bottom line is the facts are the facts, but sometimes you have got to believe in the statistics. So for me, it couldn't be very bad.

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  • What do you mean by "home-made discs"? – edc65 Jul 29 '16 at 6:25
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    @edc65 You mean you don't have a home CD factory? – SGR Jul 29 '16 at 7:23
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    "stone like metals and metalloids" don't actually sound that durable to me. Old things I see in museums are usually made of gold, so I'd be more inclined to trust gold-plated disks when it comes to durability. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jul 29 '16 at 8:03
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    Polycarbonate doesn't like UV light (including sunlight), so that's not promising. – Chris H Jul 29 '16 at 9:09
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    If the reflective coating is the only thing that degrades, the data could be recovered with specialist equipment by removing and replacing it, or ignoring it by examining the disc surface with an electron microscope (if anyone cares about your data in 1000 years, they're as likely to have access to one as to a consumer optical drive). The plastic is what you've got to really worry about. – Random832 Jul 29 '16 at 20:45

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