Library Of Congress Investigating Why Discs Die Over Time

by Kyle Hilliard on May 14, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Disc-based media, which includes most video games, deteriorates over time, and the Library of Congress is trying to figure out why in the interest of conservation.

Speaking with The Atlantic, Fenella France, chief of preservation research and testing at the Library of Congress, said that discs weren't designed to last a long time and are breaking down because they were designed with mass production in mind, as opposed to longevity. For this reason, CDs are simply collapsing and not working after a certain period of time.

In response to these concerns, the Library of Congress is working to figure out how to help prevent things like "edge rot" or "bronzing," two forms of damage appear on discs over extended periods of time. Unfortunately, CD manufacturing has gone through myriad and quick changes over the years, making it difficult to pinpoint how best to store a disc and prevent its data from disappearing.

The Library of Congress is focusing its experiments on music CDs, but the preservation concerns extend to both games and movies as well, as discs have been the most popular form of media distribution for some time. It is only in the last decade or so that digital distribution has become a viable alternative for the distribution of music, movies, and now games.

[Source: The Atlantic]


Our Take
Both in terms of keeping track of video games from a historical cataloging perspective, as well as our own selfish desires to be able to play our favorite video games any time we want in the future, the work the Library of Congress is doing to discover how best to conserve discs is important. You can actually help by offering up your own discs for experimentation, which you can learn more about here.