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General Discussion and News => Technology Troubles => Topic started by: B L McAllister on July 23, 2009, 01:06:43 PM

Title: CD problem
Post by: B L McAllister on July 23, 2009, 01:06:43 PM
My past writing is supposedly all saved on CDs.  Today I needed to look at one of those CDs, and my computer drew a blanK: nothing there.  So I clicked properties, and it assured me that the CD is full-----only there's a catch: it indicated that the capacity of the CD is zero.  I know stories were stored on that CD.  Well, of course, I tried several more CDs, and two of them gave exactly the same result, but some others show that they contain exactly what they are supposed to contain.  Does anybody know what it is that causes the CD reading program to mess up in that way? And whether there's a reasonable cure for the problem?  (If things stored on CDs risk becoming irrevocably lost at the whim of an electronic bamboozle, I have serious  doubts about saving stuff on CDs any more.) (And, oh, by the way: I did try looking at one of the baddies on another computer, and that didn't work, either: same result.)

Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: MTH on July 23, 2009, 01:15:59 PM
I had a similar thing happen a week ago with a CD. The software my computer used to make the CD wasn't the same software that was trying to open it again. I had to open that software and then get into the CD
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: B L McAllister on July 23, 2009, 02:40:32 PM
Oh, boy!  I hope that isn't my only solution.  Because if it is and  if I made the disks on my old computer, I'll never see the content of those CDs again. The old computer finally went the way of all electronic fooferaw, namely to recycling.  (Probably I made them on my present computer, but I'm really not quite sure.)

Byron (who wonders if a bit of regulation of the computer industry would be a pretty good idea)
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: I have requested this comment be deleted. on July 23, 2009, 04:50:58 PM
I had this happen when I was backing up Japanese TV shows on DVD.  It could be one of many problems:

Dye from markers can oxidize, taking the CD and data along with it.  Sharpies supposedly are safe.

Off-brand or cheap discs sometimes don't burn or read properly.  This was the cause of my problem, I think; I had bought a stack of cheap discs at Big Lots and, though the burning application said the burn was successful, there were gaps in the data.  I now use only Taiyo Yuden printable discs.  (Discs with matte white surfaces are supposedly safer to write on, too.)

When a disc has minor errors (gaps in the information) on it, your disc reader is supposed to figure out how to bridge the gap and read the disc.  Some drives are better at this than others.  Often, with DVDs, I'll be able to play a disc on my computer (using VLC Media Player), but the DVD player will freeze and skip.  If a disc won't open or copy to my hard drive, I try a second and sometimes third computer.  A lot of my old CDs, I have to try multiple computers.

All discs go bad after so many years.  I don't know if I've personally had a disc go from readable to completely unreadable yet (some of my CDs are probably eight years old, but I assume that the few discs I have that are unreadable were bad burns to begin with), but that's what everyone says.  Most recommend hard drives for archival purposes.  If a hard drive fails, unless it's wiped clean by magnetism or something, there are ways to recover the data.

Solid state (flash) drives, including CF or SD cards, would also work.  They're supposed to fail less often than hard drives, but I'm not sure they're as easy to recover data from when they do fail.  With a hard drive, you can take it apart and the data will still be on that big metal disc; I'm not sure if flash drives work that way.  (Wikipedia calls SD cards a "non-volatile memory card format"--"solid state" implies the data will still be there--I'm just saying I personally can't say 100% with my expertise.)

There are forensic tools you can use to recover information from bad/damaged discs.  I've never had to go that far, so I can't recommend any specific software, but I know there are computer forensics books on Amazon and would guess there are open source or freeware applications.

I see ISO Buster recommended a lot--not in the context of data recovery, but for ripping and dealing with disc images.  It's marketed as a data recovery tool.  $24.99 and has a trial version you can download.  I'd try that if putting the disc in another computer doesn't work.
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: Bob Mueller on July 24, 2009, 12:17:13 AM
I wonder if maybe when you burned the CDs, the burn session didn't close properly. I recall that being a problem on certain types of CDs, but I can't recall if it was CDR or CDRW. You had to explicitly close or end the burning session in some way in the software.

Byron, if you recall the software you used, but don't have the original discs anymore, try looking for it at

I'd certainly hold on to your CDs for now; a data recovery firm or local computer shop might be able to help you.
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: B L McAllister on July 24, 2009, 01:26:54 PM
Thanks all, for the suggestions.  I do conclude that CDs are not the best way to save old stuff.  Far from it.  Clearly, nothing the electronic world has to offer will ever replace printed material. Thanks again.
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: Lance Charnes on July 25, 2009, 01:30:43 AM
Paper turns to dust or ash. Ink fades, then disappears. Books destroy themselves over time.

Printing isn't forever, either, unless you intend to start using oil paint on animal skins.

Never keep only one backup. If it's important enough to keep, it's important enough to copy into multiple places. Use a variety of media; the chances that all will die at the same time are infinitessimal. Periodically check the health of your backups; if there's a problem, create a replacement from one of the other copies of your work. You could even print out the things you want to save, but beware: the paper will likely disintegrate long before the electronic copies.
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: MTH on July 26, 2009, 11:52:11 AM
Something I learned from being a computer typesetter is to always save things in smaller chunks as well as the entire work. When I write I save chapter by chapter and then back them up. If you lose a small piece it is not as bad as losing the whole shebang.
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: I have requested this comment be deleted. on November 06, 2009, 08:45:22 PM
My punctuation (semicolons and dashes) looks crazy to me.  Has anybody else noticed this?  Maybe I'm being too self-critical.
Title: Re: CD problem
Post by: B L McAllister on November 06, 2009, 10:42:53 PM
Here at MWF, the only place I see your writing (so far), I haven't noticed anything weird about your  punctuation.  I have noticed that, increasingly, my e-mail reading program (well, the main one: Eudora) translates any unusual punctuation-----and the bar for "unusual" is so low that quotation marks qualify-----into a bit of brief gibberish.  Not exactly a serious problem, since it's always easy (so far) to determine what is meant.  Whether the fault lies in my program, my friends' programs, or "in the stars, Horatio" (naah!),  is not sufficiently simple to determine to tempt me to try to do so, but I sometimes wonder how far the communication gap will widen before some designer of e-programs notices and markets a bit of software designed to "restore old times," as always seems to happen.

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