Potential disk ‘measles’ risk

Manufacturers have prom-ised to investigate potential problems with CD-Rs, the gold-coloured recordable CD-ROMs used by many design groups to archive data, after reports that some are suffering from a mystery virus which has been wiping out data.

Dubbed “CD-R measles” by those who have been struck, the condition is identifiable by measle-like spots developing on the gold foil of the disks. One repro house, which has been afflicted but wishes to remain anonymous until the extent of the damage has been assessed, has lost all data on disks which have developed the symptoms.

Repro house staff are checking all disks to find the extent of the problem. Disks so far discovered to be suffering are branded as Kodak and Maxell, with around 1 per cent of those checked suffering from the symptoms. Disks from TDK and Sony have not shown the danger signs.

“We first discovered this problem with some of Kodak’s own-brand CD-Rs about 18 months ago. It agreed to replace the infected disks immediately and look into the problem,” says one staff member. Maxell disks used by the company have since fallen victim to the same problem.

John O’Grady, Kodak’s business manager for CD-Rs across Europe, says he will ensure the situation is investigated. “The disks are artificially aged by 100 years in the testing process – I’ve never been made aware of this problem,” he says, adding that it could be caused by storage conditions. He declines to comment on reports that Kodak makes disks for Maxell.

Simon Hendrie, of Maxell’s technical service department, says he has heard of the problem, and is “waiting to get samples back [from the end user] to be investigated”, so the full nature of the condition can be determined.

A phone poll of design groups found that around one in three uses CD-Rs, with groups including Fitch, Conran Design Group, Redhouse Lane, Circle and Thumb archiving data on to them.

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