The hidden phenomenon that could ruin your old discs


Nimbus, the first CD manufacturer in the UK, said that it had done some research into the disc rot issue and found that most discs will self-destruct after between eight and 10 years. The company’s findings, which went against prevailing theories of the time that CDs were indestructible, blamed the problems on improper dyes that reduced the quality of the discs.

Michele Youket, a preservation specialist at the Library of Congress, often deals with similar situations in her role. She says that this kind of silent destruction, which shows up in three different forms—the “bronzing” of discs, small pin-hole specs located on the discs, or “edge-rot”—became an important one for the national library when the organization started archiving music on CD formats, with the format’s weaknesses soon becoming apparent.

While not well known, this is starting to become more of an issue as the CDs from 10-20 years ago start to “age out.” If you’ve got an old CD collection, you should check it for “disc rot.”