Helpdesk: Unplugged but not powerless

A: She’s right. If you touch the charger when it is plugged into the wall but not to your phone it’ll feel warm -- a sign that it’s using a bit of electricity. It’s such a small amount that your electric bill probably won’t feel the pain. But unplugging it when not in use can also eliminate the danger of a failure that could spark a fire. Again, the danger is low. Still, why use any electricity you don’t need? Unplugging is a good habit to get into.

Q: Gold archival CDs and DVDs promise to keep data safe for 100 or even 300 years. Can they really deliver on that promise? Reid Prinkey

A: Well, we’ll know for sure in 100 to 300 years. The manufacturers are relying on laboratory tests and best estimates to make that claim. And it’s likely they’ve done their best o back up the promise. There’s no doubt in my mind that archival discs are superior to regular ones. But I can’t know if they’ll live up to the 100 to 300 year claim.

One thing I do know: You pay more for the discs because of that claim.

And there may be better ways to save data for the long term. After all, any disc can be damaged by careless handling or destroyed by a fire. Data important enough to warrant a high-priced disc could also be saved at one of the many online storage firms. Not only will the data be safe from any disaster at your home, the commercial system will back-up its own back-ups for added security.

Q: My multi-disc CD player quit working and when I went to a store to replace it I couldn’t find one. The clerk told me everyone uses MP3 players now and that not only are CD players gone but that the CD itself will be gone soon. Is that right? David Lovvorn

A: While the CD is losing in popularity to MP3s and the like, it is unlikely to go away any time soon. Heck, you can still buy old vinyl record albums and phonographs even today. If you do a Google search like this -- cd player multi-disc -- you’ll find plenty of multi-disc players still on the market.

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