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.

  • 16
    you will only really know in 1000 years.
    – Musselman
    Jul 29, 2016 at 6:21
  • 1
    something about using just one disk being less sensible than re-recording on multiple disks with backup copies, etc and so forth Jul 29, 2016 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, 2016 at 9:55
  • 2
    @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, 2016 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, 2016 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 3
    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, 2016 at 8:01
  • 4
    @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. Jul 29, 2016 at 8:06
  • 26
    That's what makes the US nuclear arsenal so secure; nobody else still has working 8" floppy drives.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 29, 2016 at 8:13
  • 6
    "I'll need 200 HDDs over a thousand years" -- this is what they call a good problem to have. Jul 29, 2016 at 10:58
  • 7
    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, 2016 at 15:55

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.

  • What do you mean by "home-made discs"?
    – edc65
    Jul 29, 2016 at 6:25
  • 13
    @edc65 You mean you don't have a home CD factory?
    – SGR
    Jul 29, 2016 at 7:23
  • 1
    "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. Jul 29, 2016 at 8:03
  • 3
    Polycarbonate doesn't like UV light (including sunlight), so that's not promising.
    – Chris H
    Jul 29, 2016 at 9:09
  • 1
    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, 2016 at 20:45

Cost for M-DISC and the ability to use them in the future is no different than the 'HARDDRIVE' you think you can maintain into the future. You can't maintain either of them beyond practical use. The issue is which will still be there when you need it.

Lets talk about computer hard drives. In my life I have seen Channel Drives ATA Microchannel Scsi Fiberchannel Serial ATA SAS ATAPI and that is not even touching the DIGITAL Drives. In 6 decades there have been at least an average of 1 major change every year.

Now lets look at CD, DVD and Blueray....NO CHANGE because they are ISO Standards. They do not change, they are added to, there are new standards but the old ones stay the same, forever.

I have not even touched on the interfaces for drives. ATA, SAS, SCSI, USB, MicroUSB, USB-C, USB-3, ThunderBolt, do I really need to go on because that was in the last 5 years of change. A hard drive from 10 years ago unless you have the OLD equivalent to run them on wont work. The OS may not even recognize it.

M-DISC, Current version of DVD drive plug it in....works. Game ovre M-DISC wins in the long run, BUT......at some point M-DISC will be outdated, which will be well past ANY hard drive you buy today. Not just the hard drive but the format, os compatibility etc. So before your M-DISC is no longer supported you convert it to the NEXT format of long term storage which, as progressive technology theory has shown will be MULTIPLES of times bigger and MANY times cheaper to use...and it will probably last 10,000 years by then,

The point is, hard drives are great but I have at least 30 in my collection that will never be off loaded again because there is no hardware to plug them into.

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