Everybody thinks it is nonsense all that information that is written on each CD case, about recording and read speeds, color of the media, warranty and they end up buying the famous “spindles” of 100 CDs at USD 0.99 each at the newsstand. We wonder if the color of the media is a mere characteristic of each manufacturer.

First of all, it is necessary to make clear that the media that will work for you in all your tasks does not exist. You cannot look at a CD and tell if it is good or not just by its color being silver, gold, green or blue. For each work, recorder and reader there is a recommended media. It does not matter if the recording surface colors are the same or very much alike, but two CDs by the same manufacturer can be completely different.

A lot of technology hides behind the colors of the recording sides. We are going to particularize the way they are made and which the main characteristics of each of them are, for you to be well informed and not to trust when the pirate on the corner says that his CD is better because it is “GOLD”.

In the first place, opposite to what many people think, the material used in the constitution of the media does not interfere in its storage capacity. That story about not existing a 680 MB CD in a specific color is nonsense. In the CD this capacity is linked basically to the disk size, mainly the recording layer, and can store 21 minutes of audio, or 184 MB, 63 minutes of audio, or 553 MB, 74 minutes of audio, or 650 MB or 80 minutes of audio and 700 MB. Everything in average numbers.

This last one, also known as CD-R80, is a very special product that has been developed by TDK to help the software industry and, because it is difficult to find in the world market in general, it turned out to be an efficient way to restrain piracy in many countries, where these CDs are rare and expensive. Unfortunately it is not all kind of equipment that is able to record and/or read this media, because it requires special calibration on the read and recording speeds.


A systems security and cryptography expert, Alberto currently manages the UNIX, SAN, Storage and Backup teams for Nestlé. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he currently lives in Phoenix, AZ. He was the architect in charge of several security solutions for a number of companies including banks, industry, and armed forces in several countries.