How to Avoid Damaging Disks

Last month we shared information on differences in disk quality and longevity. The next step to keeping your data long-term is handling your disks with the respect your data deserves.
Many environmental factors can damage your disks. These include: exposure to direct sunlight: intense heat; fluctuations in temperature and humidity; gravity; fingerprints; and smudges and scratches. By following the lists of do’s and don’ts, you can ensure a maximum life expectancy for your disks.


Handle disks by the outer edge or center hole
Use a nonsolvent-based felt-tip permanent marker to mark the label side of the disk
Keep dirt or other foreign matter from the disk
Store disks upright (book style) in original jewel cases
Return disks to their jewel case immediately after use
Leave disks in their spindle or jewel case to minimize the effects of environmental changes
Remove the shrink wrap only when you are ready to record data on the disk
Store in a cool, dry, dark, clean-air environment — relative humidity should be 20% – 50% and temperature 4 – 20 degrees C
Remove dirt, foreign material, fingerprints, smudges, and liquids by wiping with a clean cotton cloth in a straight line from the center of the disk toward the outer edge
Use deionized, distilled or soft tap water to clean your disks; for tough problems, use diluted dish detergent or rubbing alcohol


Touch the surface of the disk
Bend the disk
Store disks horizontally for a long period of time (years)
Expose to extreme heat or high humidity
Expose to rapid temperature and humidity changes
Expose to prolonged sunlight
Write on the data side of the disk
Clean in a circular direction around the disk