The Great CD Preservation Project, c. 2012

In one form or another, I’ve had an eye towards preserving my CD collection long term since 2003.1 Back then, my process was pretty complicated; now, it’s fairly simple. The principle is pretty simple: get the music off of the CDs while preserving their package and state. I’m okay with CDs only being played a handful of times, as I’m more interested in the packaging and getting all the bits.

Here’s the process:

  1. Scan the release into Delicious Library. This works for purchased CDs only, of course. Concert recordings don’t go in here, as I didn’t pay to take ownership of them. I put things into DL so I can loan them out and know who has what. Also, I have this as a record for insurance purposes.
  2. Check MusicBrainz for the release. Every so often, I have to go and add the release, but I’m an auto-editor.
  3. Rip the CD in Apple Lossless. I’d use FLAC for maximum interoperability, but Apple only uses their lossless format for iTunes, and as I use iTunes Match to move music onto my iDevices, I knuckle under and use their format. I don’t see it going away anytime soon, so I don’t feel like I’m investing time ripping into a format that I won’t use. When I compare this to the 3-4 different lossy encodings I used from 2003-2011, it’s not a big concern.2 Now that I have two large HDD arrays, I really don’t worry about storage space.
  4. Run the rip/encode through MusicBrainz’s Picard tagger.
  5. Add in the highest-quality cover art I can find. I really should be making my own with the scanner I have, but I’m lame.

I’d put in lyrics—and I care about that in a theoretical way—but there’s little practical value in doing so.

That’s where I’m at these days. I don’t see this methodology changing much given that I’m using a stable lossless codec.


  1. Why am I writing this update? I referenced something the other day that referenced the original post. Holy nine years, Batman. 

  2. That I kept moving the target was a big part of the problem.