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Thread: Bit Rot

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    Default Bit Rot

    I have a presentation next week and one of my slides will address "bit rot". The concept is familiar enough and I think many who doubted this years ago have probably all been hit with a first-hand case of this data disease by now.

    I've got some good examples of this going on in EPROM data (cartridge prototypes) but I have never personally experienced a CD with bit rot. I know I've seen or heard people in this community talk about it before.

    Do you have any specific examples of this happen, and was there an obvious culprit (heat, humidity, excessive light, etc) that caused a once working disc to go bad without ever having been used in the interim?

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    Ive never had a problem with carts or game cds. Only Audio CDs and DVDs Ive had rot, most likely due to cheap materials used to make the discs themselves.

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    Yes, it has happened to me, but not with games, but with cheapass optical media.

    In fact, ever since I purchased two BDRE drives on my computer, I've started to backup files extensively, specially when I encountered some of the first few CD's burnt to be pretty much screwed up with bitrot. These CD's are from the year 2000 or so, so yeah, they are old. Generic media doesn't help either, though to be honest, generic media isn't always generic as people think...

    Anyway,I've noticed that the conditions in which the discs are located in play a very important role in bit rot development. In a sealed environment, with little or no humidity, bit rot was practically non-existent. But when exposed to the elements...bit rot was just ONE of the problems to plague optical media. Others include fungus, stains, obviously scratches, peeling from the label side...and much, much more.

    I'm pondering about putting small silica packets in certain games/locations to help prevent this as much as possible. Or at least slow down it's progress.
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    I have a Castlevania cart for the NES that has bit rot. The character falls right through the floor and dies even in the attract scene when you just let it play it self. No amount of cleaning fixed it so that is what I assumed it was.
    Last edited by kai123; 04-01-2012 at 09:43 PM.
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    I've only ever gotten this on CD-Rs, and I would assume they are a lot more common on them than on pressed discs.

    It may not be relevant to your interests, but LaserDiscs often had laser rot, especially ones manufactured by Sony in the 90's. LaserDiscs had to be made in a very sterile environment otherwise they would be messed up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kai123 View Post
    I have a Castlevania cart for the NES that has bit rot. The character falls right through the floor and dies even in the attract scene when you just let it play it self. No amount of cleaning fixed it so that is what I assumed it was.
    Dude, make a video of this and post it to youtube, then drop us a link. I want to see this "bit rot" in action.

    I've never heard of this before. While I'd hate for any of my carts to have bit rot occur to them unintentionally, I wouldn't mind purposely causing it to happen to a duplicate cart or two (I'm looking at you, Mario/Duck Hunts!). I really dig video games flipping out as their universe collapses in on itself like when certain Game Genie codes are entered. Cory Arcangel created a movie with Paper Rad about this kind of deterioration of the world of a video game as it ages. I am certain I've posted it on DP before, but screw it...


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    Quote Originally Posted by Tupin View Post
    I've only ever gotten this on CD-Rs, and I would assume they are a lot more common on them than on pressed discs.

    It may not be relevant to your interests, but LaserDiscs often had laser rot, especially ones manufactured by Sony in the 90's. LaserDiscs had to be made in a very sterile environment otherwise they would be messed up.
    You know how much music I buy. A lot of stuff from the 1990s and earlier now has disc rot. Even one CD I bought that was fine experienced rot a few years later, and this is why I now back everything up to FLAC ASAP.

    I don't believe I've ever encountered a single console game with disc rot - Sega and Sony's manufacturing plants were pretty good at what they did. However I have found a few PC games that have died due to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune Sniper View Post
    You know how much music I buy. A lot of stuff from the 1990s and earlier now has disc rot. Even one CD I bought that was fine experienced rot a few years later, and this is why I now back everything up to FLAC ASAP.

    I don't believe I've ever encountered a single console game with disc rot - Sega and Sony's manufacturing plants were pretty good at what they did. However I have found a few PC games that have died due to it.
    Is FLAC really any better than .WAV or .AIFF? I hear those are lossless as well
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickstilwell1 View Post
    Is FLAC really any better than .WAV or .AIFF? I hear those are lossless as well
    The filesize is about half as big, sometimes a bit less.
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    Is loss of data on EPROM really considered "bit rot" since they were only guaranteed by the manufacturers to last 10 years or so? And even then I think you can rewrite them and they'll save that data for a good long time. More slowly erasing rather than rotting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune Sniper View Post
    The filesize is about half as big, sometimes a bit less.
    Ah, I guess I'll stick with sacrificing disk space for ease of compatibility and access.
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    Not as extreme as Rickstilwell though.[/quote]



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    are you guys saying 25 years from now nes and snes games will be worthless?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune Sniper View Post
    You know how much music I buy. A lot of stuff from the 1990s and earlier now has disc rot. Even one CD I bought that was fine experienced rot a few years later, and this is why I now back everything up to FLAC ASAP.

    I don't believe I've ever encountered a single console game with disc rot - Sega and Sony's manufacturing plants were pretty good at what they did. However I have found a few PC games that have died due to it.
    With early CDs I've heard it could be caused because of the paper insert in the front of the case. The paper can be acidic, when the case is closed it's pressed against the top of the disc and can eventually damage it. Some places say to store CD cases on edge in a bookcase like books instead of flat to prevent the booklet from sagging down onto the disc. I'm not sure how serious this type of problem is though as most CD storage racks seem to store them flat. Newer discs might be better sealed on top too.

    I've found a Sega CD game with some pinholes in it, I'm not sure if it got ruined as it still played fine though I never beat the game to make sure(it's that Power Rangers game). I've also found a few PC games like that, I can't really recall coming across too many discs like that but it's not like it only happened once or twice either. I just make sure to check discs before I buy them.

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    I've dealt with a few prototypes that clearly were bitrot. They had varying levels of corruption. Not much you can do about it except back things up before it happens.

    As for CDs/DVDs, I have never really had too much of an issue. I have some older cds in my collection that skip and stutter, but it could be due to scratches as much as corruption. I'd say that optical media is far more fragile than cartridges (despite issues with contacts), and will have a shorter shelf life. Tis the nature of the beast. Hopefully there will be people keeping backups of everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerfuzion View Post
    are you guys saying 25 years from now nes and snes games will be worthless?
    Nothing lasts forever. This is why emulation is so important.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerfuzion View Post
    are you guys saying 25 years from now nes and snes games will be worthless?
    To quote the Angry Video Game Nerd; "What's the point? It'll all be dust one day anyway."





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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameboy Color View Post
    To quote the Angry Video Game Nerd; "What's the point? It'll all be dust one day anyway."
    True, heck I'm 42, in 25 years I may not be around to play them anyway.

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    How sad it is to contemplate the gradual and inevitable demise of all the video games from our childhood.

    The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things;
    the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline.
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    the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.

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    I have had a PSX game give me garbage video output before, like a dirty NES cart. I don't know if this was due to bit rot, or due to something in the system.
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    A couple of my audio CDs have rotted a bit, a couple of tracks refuse to play properly. But they are "early" CDs, from the late 80s or early 90s. My game discs are fine currently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kai123 View Post
    I have a Castlevania cart for the NES that has bit rot. The character falls right through the floor and dies even in the attract scene when you just let it play it self. No amount of cleaning fixed it so that is what I assumed it was.
    Quote Originally Posted by treismac View Post
    Dude, make a video of this and post it to youtube, then drop us a link. I want to see this "bit rot" in action.
    X2. Not that I would definitely consider it bit-rot, but I would love to see this.

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    Wow! Thank you all so much for your input. I figured that many of you would have seen this in 80's and early 90's music CD's but I'm actually relieved to hear at least a few here have had it happen with CD-based games as well. I've seem close-ups of discs with that pinhole effect and many customers have told me about their CD's suddenly stop working but I have never had a disc "go bad" like this for me.

    As for EPROMs, I do consider that a form of bit rot but as stated above, it's true that EPROM manufacturers never guaranteed they'd last longer than 10 years and yes, simply re-writing over them will refresh the data within.

    And I'd completely forgotten about laserdiscs. Not sure if I'll be able to squeeze that into a 20-second bit rot blurb but thanks for the reminder!

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    Well, it was way, way, way more evident in LaserDiscs because they didn't make many compared to CDs, so when they manufactured them badly, it affected a lot of discs.

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    Bought a sealed copy of Windows 98 Second Edition last year and the disc has a dark spot on the data side, it installs and works correctly so I imagine it must be language packs and other useless optional crap on the far edge of the disc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shulamana View Post
    Bought a sealed copy of Windows 98 Second Edition last year and the disc has a dark spot on the data side, it installs and works correctly so I imagine it must be language packs and other useless optional crap on the far edge of the disc.
    I've had a few discs like that, it seems the top coat seal isn't that good and the reflective layer is oxidising. If it gets bad enough it won't be readable. I've seen this happen on water damaged discs too.

    Now I have to check the laserdiscs I have, I don't have a player but I've picked up a few discs somewhat recently. I'm hoping they're all right.

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