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How many times can one safely burn and erase a CD-RW before the disk must be replaced?

Posted on 2004-09-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
Greetings EE:

I have heard various answers to this question, so now I ask the good folks at Experts Exchange. How many times can I safely burn and erase a CD-RW before the disk must be replaced? I use Memorex CD-RW disks, 70 MB, 80 minutes, 1x-4x speed. Many thanks.

Question by:zovoth
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Accepted Solution

chumplet earned 200 total points
ID: 12045610
Well... you're ALWAYS going to get different information on something like this.  I imagine that each CD-RW manufacturer has their own interpretation of "length of life" for this technology.  My guess is, though, that most discs are rated beyond the length of time that anyone would actually use them for!  For instance, you can (most likely) rewrite CD-RW discs much longer than the disc itself would last -- due to scratches, etc..

Here's the *official* word from Imation...

Hope that's helpful...

LVL 96

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 12046093
Based on Imations claim, you could rewrite a cd daily for 2.5 years before it would stop being rewriteable.  However, in practive, it's far more likely that in the handling of the disk - scratches, etc, will result in the disk becoming unusable before then.  My vote is to give cumplet an A++++ for that link - I don't know about you, but I found it quite informative.

Assisted Solution

yavooza earned 80 total points
ID: 12046232
here is the reply form the Memorex site:

Can be recorded on a Home Audio CD Recorder or Computer CD Writer. Offers 80 minutes of audio time or 700MB of data storage, 1x-4x rewrite speed compatible. The Memorex music CDRW-DA allows you to erase and rewrite thousands of times on the same disc.
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LVL 20

Assisted Solution

DVation191 earned 160 total points
ID: 12046482

Expert Comment

ID: 12054159
This varies due to a range of reasons but as a standard figure, or more precisely as an exagerration most manufacturers say its around a 1000 times. However you can only be fully guarenteed of 900+ times. But since you use only upto 4x speed
you can rewrite for longer as the limitations of use are mostly imposed because of wear.
Hope this helps!

Assisted Solution

feedyourhead earned 160 total points
ID: 12056241
The Cd-RW medias are items that will change back to their original state when you erase them.
You can do it about a 1000 times before the structure of the cd does not change back to another state anymore. The materials used to make such a rewritable method possible are special crystals that can go back to their original state.

By heating up the crystals, they change form. Now when you quickly cool them. they stay in that form (which is different from its original form). This is called the amorphous state of the crystals. They have changed form and it stays that way. Your cd player can read it (although it has a little less reflection than cd-r’s, it has no problems with it).

Now, if we want to erase the CD-RW , we have to make sure that we lose all the data. So we want to get rid of the amorphous state. By heating up the material again, but this time using more time and less heat, the material gradually wants to take back its old form again , and thus the info is erased. This state is called the (poly)crystalline state.

So, by very quickly heating it and very quickly cool it, we can give the crystals another state (the amorhphous state) which thus contains data and by quite slowly heating it and quite slowly cool it, we can give the crystals their old form back (the crystalline state) which contains no more data. It’s a constant change of phases. And so they called it phase change recording.

Expert Comment

ID: 12062981
From my experience:

1x-4x disks - have used Verbatim, Traxdata, Intenso. Rewrote them about hundred times, had no problems. Stopped using them when 8x-12x CDRWs appeared.

8x-12x disks - have used Verbatim (no problems), Memorex (very bad quality, died after about 15 cycles), Princo (slightly better than Memorex), TDK (still no problems), Fujitsu (somewhat worse than Verbatim).

16x - no experience

IMHO you can use disk as long as burning software verifies, that written files are good (you should always verify data when using cdrw media). For archival purpose it is better to use cd-r media.

Author Comment

ID: 12294747
DOH! Please forgive, I am a complete newbie, and I did not understand the importance, nor the procedure of properly closing questions or awarded due points. NOW I am in the know, having read the FAQ's and the terms of membership, and I will certainly make sure to follow-up in the future.

I thank you all for your comments, they all helped. I awarded points to the first response, not yet knowing the procedure for multiple responses, though I do now. I shall make triple-effort to properly award ALL responses from this day forward.

LucF, please note I closed the question after receiving your informative e-mail. I've got the know now, and I won't leave questions open any longer... I promise.

LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 12297547
If more than one expert helped you answer your question, read this:

Then post a 0-Point question here to have the points changed:
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 12298549
thanks for returning zovoth :)
If you'd still like to split the points, you can ask the Moderators to change it for you at Community Support as explained by DVation191.

EE Cleanup Volunteer

Author Comment

ID: 12299878
Greetings fine experts:

I've reviewed the procedures of distributing points, and I am hoping my newfound knowledge will raise me out of the gutter of complete newbie-ness. All of the multiple responses you've provided were helpful, but as this was only a 50 point question, I can only distribute it among two experts due to a 20 point minimum (as I understand it). I have submitted the proper request to the EE Moderators to re-distribute points for this question to Chumplet & DVation191, as their responses were the most helpful out of the group. Many thanks to you all, and please forgive my newbie-ness, which I'm hoping to leave behind me now.

Many thanks,


Author Comment

ID: 12304354
Thanks again to all of you fine wizards for your assistance. Please forgive my delayed response & clumsiness to closing this question, as I am a newbie, but am now armed with the proper protocol for awarding points.

I did increase the point value for this question and divided it among the answers that were the most helpful. Many thanks, and may you each live long after your CD-RW's wear out.

Take care,


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