I have a lot of old unused/unburned CD-R/CD-RW media. Are there published test results documenting the expected shelf life of this type of media?
According to the US National Archives:
According to the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA), the unrecorded shelf life of a CD-R/DVD-R disc is conservatively estimated to be between 5 and 10 years.
This article estimates the shelf life to be from five to ten years, but it really depends on the quality of the disc that your purchase, since you can buy discs that are intended to have a longer life span through protective coatings or being produced using different materials.
CD's aren't a great medium to use for long term storage, since any non-archival quality disks have a short lifespan and their failure rates are reasonably high, not to mention the data density. Typically long term data is written to tape due to its high density, relatively low cost.
Just got through burning some CDs that were over ten years old. Five were good, and eight were bad. Over a 50% failure rate.