Opinions vary on how to preserve data on digital storage media, such as optical CDs and DVDs. Kurt Gerecke, a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland, has his own view: If you want to avoid having to burn new CDs every few years, use magnetic tapes to store all your pictures, videos and songs for a lifetime.If your backup strategy relies primarily on recordable CDs or DVDs, be sure to take this into account. I use high-quality optical disk blanks (my experience with the made-in-Japan Verbatims has been excellent) but my working assumption is that the maximum shelf life is 18 months.
Unlike pressed original CDs, burned CDs have a relatively short life span of between two to five years, depending on the quality of the CD," Gerecke says. "There are a few things you can do to extend the life of a burned CD, like keeping the disc in a cool, dark space, but not a whole lot more."
"Many of the cheap burnable CDs available at discount stores have a life span of around two years," Gerecke says. "Some of the better-quality discs offer a longer life span, of a maximum of five years."
PCWorld - Do Burned CDs Have a Short Life Span?