Jan Johnson
MultiPath Communications
(714) 633-4008



Digital Photos stored on CDs and DVDs caught in
flood waters may be recoverable.

CUPERTINO, Calif., Sept. 20, 2005 — If a disaster is on your doorstep, what will you do? Whether it is an impending hurricane, tornado, fire or response to an earthquake, the most immediate reaction is to grab your kids, pets and the family photo album and leave the area of danger. However, today’s precious family memories are not necessarily stored as prints in a bulky album or a box, but are often on a computer hard drive, or, even better, on more portable CDs or DVDs. People just may not be able to take the time to disconnect the computer and tote it out of the house when getting safely out of harms way may only give you minutes to escape.

The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) has been pondering just such a scenario. First of all, OSTA wants to encourage people contemplating their own disaster preparedness plans to make sure that backing up their photos and data to easily portable CD or DVD discs is near the top of their preparation list. Of the hundreds of thousands of people caught in the turmoil of the recent hurricane, how many of them left behind family memories in the form of digital photos stored in their computer that may be submerged under the flood waters or debris? And an even bigger question – how many of those pictures will be retrievable? However, for those flood victims who did have photos on CDs or DVDs, but were unable to take them with them, don’t toss them out just because they are wet and dirty – saving those images may be as simple as a little mild detergent and water and drying with a soft cloth, provided the discs are not warped or broken.

“ Backing up to CDs and DVDs is probably the simplest and most effective insurance for protecting data, photos, and videos,” said David Bunzel, OSTA president. “While many kinds of data can be reconstructed from other sources, precious memories captured as digital photos are especially important to back up. Today, recordable CD and DVD media are very affordable and easy-to-use backup software programs are readily available to make this a relatively simple task for many computer users. Best practices for safeguarding very important data or images would also include making duplicate set of CDs or DVDs and storing them in a separate location.”

“ Preliminary submersion tests conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology have provided some encouraging news,” said Fred Byers, IT specialist for NIST. “Although it is a small, preliminary sample, we found that recordable CDs submerged in water for 24, 63 and 71 hours could be read after they were allowed to dry thoroughly.”

The Photo Marketing Association has forecast that approximately 20 billion digital images will be taken in 2005, and nearly 65%, or more than 12 billion images, will not be printed but will be stored in digital format. For images stored on CDs and DVDs, and not on the computer’s hard drive, recovery may be easier than you think.

OSTA has some tips on how to clean and recover data and images from those CDs and DVDs, provided by member companies that manufacturer optical drives or media, including Fujifilm, Imation, Maxell, Memorex, Sony Electronics, TDK, and Verbatim.

Tips for Cleaning Wet or Damaged CDs or DVDs

  1. Handle discs carefully by the edges only.
  2. Inspect the surface of the disc for damage or contamination, to see if it needs to be cleaned. Canned compressed air is excellent for removing dust.
  3. If needed, rinse carefully in clean, warm water to remove any grit that could cause scratches when the disc is wiped.
  4. If any debris or film remains that needs to be removed, clean gently with warm water and a mild detergent (e.g., dish-washing detergent), eyeglass cleaning solution, isopropyl alcohol or a commercially available CD/DVD cleaning solution.
  5. Gently wipe dry with a lint-free, soft cotton cloth. Use a wiping motion moving from the center of the disc to the outside edge instead of wiping around the disc. If wiping does cause any scratch, an “inside to outside” scratch will cut across the data tracks around the disc instead of running along them and damaging additional data.
  6. If any residue or film remains, wipe with alcohol and a soft cleaning wipe.
  7. Remember to clean the case, too.
  8. If a disc is still damp, store upright (on edge) to allow to air dry.
  9. Insert thoroughly dry disc in appropriate disc drive to attempt to read data. If the disc isn’t readable, try a different disc drive. Different drives have different optical qualities with varying thresholds of error correction ability.
  10. Data on the majority of discs is likely to be readable after following these steps. For those discs that still cannot be read, additional information on disc handling and data recovery is available on OSTA’s website in the data handling, storage and disposal sections of two white papers on recordable CDs and DVDs. For the applicable section in “Understanding CD-R and CD-RW” go to http://www.osta.org/technology/cdqa12.htm. and for “Understanding Recordable and Rewritable DVD” the related section is located at www.osta.org/technology/dvdqa/dvdqa10.htm.

About the Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA)
The Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA) was incorporated as an international trade association in 1992 to promote the use of recordable optical technologies and products. The organization’s membership includes optical product manufacturers and resellers from three continents, representing more than 85 percent of worldwide writable optical product shipments. They work to shape the future of the industry through regular meetings of DVD Compatibility, Commercial Optical Storage Applications (COSA), Marketing, MPV (MusicPhotoVideo), Planning and UDF committees. Interested companies worldwide are invited to join the organization and participate in its programs by contacting an OSTA representative at (408) 253-3695, by fax at (408) 253-9938, or by addressing its Web site at http://www.osta.org.