DISC HANDLING, STORAGE AND DISPOSAL
What is the best way to handle and store a CD-R or CD-RW disc?
A disc should always be handled by grasping its outer edges, center hole or
center hub clamping area. Avoid flexing the disc, exposing it to direct sunlight,
heat and/or humidity, handle it only when being used and do not eat, drink
and smoke near it. Discs should be stored in jewel cases rather than sleeves
do not contact the discs’ surfaces and generally provide better protection
again scratches, dust, light and rapid humidity changes. Once placed in their
cases discs can be further protected by keeping them in a closed box, drawer
or cabinet. For long-term storage and archival situations it is advisable to
follow manufacturer instructions. For further information consult the international
standards for preserving optical media (ISO 18925:2002, Imaging materials — optical
disc media — storage practices).
Should fingerprints and dust be cleaned off a CD-R or CD-RW disc?
CD technology is robust and employs several design elements to minimize the
effects of fingerprints and minor scratches on data integrity. The first
line of defense
comes from the physical structure of the disc and the location of the data-bearing
marks and lands. The reading laser beam shines through the disc’s substrate
focusing beyond the contaminated surface and directly on the marks and lands
beneath. In concert with advanced error detection and correction capabilities
minor debris and abrasions are largely ignored. That said, handling care should
be taken as above and a dusty disc should be blown off so that the dust does
not enter the drive mechanism and accumulate on the lens or other optical components.
It should also be noted that fingerprints, dust and scratches have a greater
impact on recording than is the case with reading since the contaminants reduce
the effectiveness of the writing laser by obscuring its beam from the disc’s
What is the best way to clean a CD-R or CD-RW disc?
Dirty discs should be carefully cleaned using a soft dry lint-free cloth or camera
lens tissue. Holding the disc by its outer edges or center hole gently wipe outward
from the center hub toward the outside edge of the disc (just like the spokes
of a bicycle wheel). Do not wipe the disc using circular motions as any scratches
created will do the least damage if they cut across the track of marks and lands.
More stubborn fingerprints or stains can be removed using a soft dry lint-free
cloth lightly moistened with water or a commercially available CD cleaning fluid.
Do not use vinyl record cleaners, lacquer thinner, gasoline, kerosene, benzene
or other solvents, as they may damage the disc. Manufacturer directions should
always be followed.
Can scratched and damaged CD-R and CD-RW discs be restored?
Often it is less expensive and makes more sense to transfer the data from a damaged
disc onto a new one rather than to try to restore the problem disc. For dealing
with more badly damaged situations consumer disc repair kits are available while
several companies offer CD restoration and resurfacing equipment and services.
See the resource listing in the appendix for contact information.
Is it possible to recover data from damaged CD-R and CD-RW discs?
Several software packages are currently available which diagnose disc problems
and help recover deleted, unreadable or otherwise inaccessible information. A
number of companies also offer commercial CD data recovery services. See the
resource listing in the appendix for contact information.
What is the best way to destroy unwanted CD-R and CD-RW discs?
For office and high volume production situations various CD destruction options
are available including mechanical shredders, desktop devices which employ
heat and pressure to make disc unreadable and grinders which abrasively remove
disc’s reflective and data-bearing recording layers. A number of companies
also offer commercial CD destruction services and deal with classified or
other sensitive materials. See the resource listing in the appendix for contact
Can unwanted CD-R and CD-RW discs be recycled?
A number of companies offer CD recycling services and are able to reclaim
some of the materials used in the disc’s construction. See the resource
listing in the appendix for contact information.