CD/DVD Shelf Life
Did you know that a CD or DVD full of family photos that you burned to disc five years ago may already be halfway dead? The average shelf life of a CD-R is only ten years, give or take, depending on brand and quality. You might one day break out those old discs and be in for a rude awakening.
Optical media will fail over time just because the medium itself is fragile. It's susceptible to scratches, heat, compression and a variety of other deadly forces. I've bought DVD movies that slipped off of the little holder inside the case and it caused some scratches on the surface of the disc. I've even cracked a disc in half one time when it wouldn't come out of the stiff plastic and I pulled up on it too hard.
We recently had an issue with the only known copy of some ancient training program CD that someone was trying to use. We went round and round with compatibility mode issues and even tried another computer, then we discovered that the disc itself was bad. You could view the files on the disc, but it would throw CRC errors if you tried to copy one main installer file to the hard drive. Trying to open the installer just gave a 'This is not a valid Win32 application' error.
Optical discs are going the way of the cassette. They wear out over time and are not reliable, plus you have to store them somewhere and that takes up space. With high speed Internet access and things like cloud storage making it so easy to safely backup data, the idea of keeping stacks of CD's or DVD's around is quickly becoming obsolete. I congratulate Apple on making this push forward and I hope more computer manufacturer's follow suit.