First, go make your backups. Then, if you’re interested, come back to this message for your storage media update.
Alarmed at last week’s news about the unreliability of many no-name CD-Rs, a client asked me to expand on the subject. So I did a little further research, and can now tell you that it isn’t just the brand of CD-R that matters, but the factory making them. The Kodak factory makes not only Kodak CDs, but also the Philips Gold and TraxData Gold CDs. These are all good CDs. So are TDK (which has its own factory), Ricoh Premium (ditto), Imation, Philips Silver, and Sony (all from the Taiyo Yuden factory). Avoid anything from the Ritek factory like plague, at least for data-critical items.
I have not yet found similar studies specific to CD-RW and DVD-R & DVD-RW media, but I strongly suspect the same general guidelines apply.
“Great,” you think. “Now what do I do with the 100-pack of generic CD-Rs I just bought?” Not to worry. Cheap CDs are actually fine for a lot of things, because you don’t need everything that you put on CD to last as long as, say, your tax records. Data changes frequently, and often a backup that’s more than a month old isn’t much use to you anyway. Anything that’s going to be replaced with a newer version inside of a year is probably safe to put on a cheap CD.
But for anything critical, buy top brands, and if it really needs to last, go for the gold.
C|NET also recommends storing CDs in jewel cases and using only designed-for-CD markers and labels on them. (The markers were news to me!)
More storage news next week!