A reader asks: Is it true that CDs can disintegrate after 20 years? How long will my digital photos last?
Yes, CDs sometimes disintegrate within a decade or two, but with proper handling and the use of higher-quality discs, your digital photo album should last a century. The breakdown of discs, known as CD rot, begins with poor care: scratches, bending the disc as you remove it from its case, damage to the edges. But these slight nicks and fractures don’t make rot inevitable. You can avoid it by using CDs coated with gold rather than the more common silver. The science involved here is simple.