How Long Will Your CDs Last?

Photo: Peter Bryant/WPR

Some of you will remember when compact discs first came along. In addition to wonderful, scratch-free sound and amazing dynamics, manufacturers reported that CDs would last forever (essentially) if taken care of.

They were wrong.

NPR’s “All Things Considered” recently featured an interesting report about the challenges facing those who use CDs. And it’s not just music lovers–museums, public records departments, the Library of Congress and many more use optical storage devices to store all sorts of vital information. Now many are facing collections of deteriorating discs.

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So what to do? The Library of Congress has some helpful advice about handling CDs to maximize their usefulness.

As NPR reported, many institutions are now storing data on servers instead of optical devices, but each new technology presents new challenges.

Here at WPR, the music library contains tens of thousands of CDs, many of which are irreplacable. Moving forward, we intend to transition to new storage and playback methods to ensure the long-term viability of this wonderful collection.

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