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Care and Handling of Optical Media
Reference Number: AA-00221 Views: 8384 Last Updated: 2014-11-26 09:34

How do I care for, label and store my optical discs?




You may need to handle, label and/or store CDR, DVD or Blu-ray discs. How to handle them during use, how to label them, where to put them, how to arrange them and what environmental conditions should they be stored in is critical to the longevity of the disc.


The estimated lifetimes of optical discs can only be reached if reasonable care is taken of them during handling and storage. Most people are familiar with handling these discs, but even a cursory glance at the bottom of discs in public libraries or from DVD rental stores indicates that the discs are subjected to far greater abuse than their designers planned. That almost all of these discs still play properly is a testament to their built-in durability, but accumulated damage will hasten the day that even good players will refuse to read them.

  1. Keep discs out of direct sunlight and with limited exposure to light in general.
  3. Keep discs in a cool, dry environment. What is most comfortable for humans is most comfortable for discs, too.
  5. Keep the discs away from large swings in temperature and humidity.
  7. Keep discs in protective cases when they are not being used.


  1. Hold the discs on the outer edge or through the center hole only to avoid fingerprints on the bottom of the disc.
  3. Avoid flexing the discs when removing them from a player or recorder or a storage case. Flexing will distort the disc’s flat design and can even damage the inner recording and mirror layers.
  5. Do not put excessive pressure on the center hub when inserting the disc in its case. The center hub area, particularly on DVDs, is fragile. A crack in the hub area can lead to shattering of the disc in a high-speed drive.
  7. Pick discs straight up from a flat surface; do not slide them.

Some discs have a special protective coating of extremely fine silicone dioxide power mixed with the lacquer that offers very good resistance to scratches.





  1. Use only water-based or alcohol-based pens designed for optical discs.
  3. The use of other solvents may damage the lacquer surface on CDs and CD-R/RW discs.
  5. The pressure from a ballpoint pen on the surface of a CD or CD-R/RW will damage the lacquer, mirror, and dye layers and create errors on the disc.
  7. Paper labels are not recommended for DVD discs.
  9. The expansion and contraction of moisture in the paper and the accumulation of heat in a DVD drive can alter the flatness of a disc enough that it falls out of the tilt specification and may not be able to be read.
  11. Paper labels do offer extra protection for the fragile upper surface of a CD-R or CD-RW.
  13. Paper CD-R labels must be aligned as precisely as possible to avoid disc imbalance.
  15. A disc with a misaligned label should be discarded. Trying to peel the label off will likely damage the disc.
  17. Labeling music discs should not be a problem because they are most often read at 1X, but any imbalance may reduce digital audio extraction speeds.
  19. Labeling data CD-Rs is not recommended because of the risk of imbalance-induced errors because CD-ROM discs are generally read at the highest speeds.




  1. Any cleaning should be done radially, that is, from the center hole out to the edge rather than around the disc. This prevents any accidental scratch from lining up with a recording track. The best solution for cleaning optical discs is a solution designed for such discs or the same solution used to clean eyeglasses made from plastic.
  3. Compressed air used to blow dust off a disc should be used carefully if the temperature of the air is cold enough to cause a stress fracture.


  1. Optical discs should be kept in storage cases for protection against contaminants, light, or accidental scratches.
  3. Storage cases should stand on their edges so that the disc hangs from its center hub.
  5. The ideal storage environment should be cool, dry, and dark.
     *  4° C (39° F) < Ideal storage range < 20° C (68° F) at 20-50% relative humidity
     *  Archival: 18° C (65° F) at 35% relative humidity
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