Dear Lifehacker: What Should I Do With My Old CDs?

Dear Lifehacker: What Should I Do With My Old CDs?


Dear Lifehacker, There has been a growing problem in my life that I have done my best to ignore and avoid for the last 12 months… alas, with a new Macbook Pro and iPhone, it is now un-ignorable. I have about 200 CDs sitting in a storage box complete with much treasured album artwork. All these albums are also in my iTunes library along with all the album art — which displays wonderfully on both my MacBook and iPhone. I also have 10 or albums in digital format which I have been doing my best to avoid building on for the sake of keeping the CD format as the primary collection. Due to the enjoyment of this digital organisation, I wonder if it may finally be time to say goodbye to the continued purchase of albums in CD format. My question: What the heck do I do with 200 CDs which I own (and I cannot sell –due to that ownership) and which are safely stored on iTunes (and backed up on Time Machine)? And should I avoid digital purchases and just find those albums on eBay for relatively the same or a cheaper price … which kind of rips off the artist doesn’t it? Thanks, Gareth

Dear Gareth, There’s a human tendency to view life as a series of either/or decisions: my music is all on my computer, so why keep the CDs? Reality is always messier, and allows for multiple choices. They might take up more space than your hard drive, but CDs have several advantages: you can easily play them in all sorts of locations, and you can easily re-rip them without having to reauthorise your PC every time you change (a major pain with digital music). And the artwork generally looks better.

Quite frankly, as someone who owns a lot more than 200 CDs, I can’t see storing that number as a major problem. But one solution is to file them in a storage box without the jewel cases, which saves a lot of room. As for your buying dilemma: if you want a whole album, I’d say buy the disc if you can. Save iTunes for singles and one-off track purchases. Of course, all this is only my opinion: if you’ve got some alternate advice for Gareth, share it in the comments.


  • I’ll take them off your hands Gareth, put up a list of what you have, haha. Seriously though, I prefer CDs to digital media. Whilst it’s convenient to download it (you can buy it whenever you want etc) I prefer to get something tangible for my money as well as the obvious benefit of higher sound quality, lack of DRM etc. Plus you can show off your music collection to anyone that comes to your house (always a great conversation starter). But if you really have your heart set on digital downloads my offer stands

  • Hey, I don’t have that many CD’s… but the odd couple that have been incorrectly burnt I have put to use, one is on the floor in this room collecting dust, the other is used as a candle stand (didn’t want anything fancy, just wanted something to stop the candle wax from dripping onto the draw’s). So I used a lighter to melt a little of the side of the candle to secure it onto the CD. (it’s one of those fairly round and mildly tall candles)
    But other than that, I have no idea what I’d do with 200+ CD’s sitting around. Most of my music is on my computer anyway…

  • I have 600+ cd’s that are kept in a metal case with a filing system. Fits neatly in any cupboard.
    I ripped over a thousand individual songs to use in playlists and also have quite a few of the full albums stored on my pc. Quite handy for streaming to xbmc. Eventually i will have the entire collection on my pc,but would like to keep a hard copy as well,and being stored coverless in cases,storage space is’nt an issue.

  • One thing you could do is put the booklets to good use as wall hangings/decorations around your house. You can get sheets of plastic with CD sized pockets, that make display hangers. has an example, or sells them in UK.

    Ditch the jewel cases and keep the disc and booklet in these! 200 cd’s would require a few of these, but maybe you could use them as wallpaper or something!

  • Thanks for the comments people. I was surprised lifehacker published such a lame question – but for OCD people like me – its a dilemma. The Editors point about either/or decisions stands out as the best point so far…. why don’t I just keep them in the cardboard box and store them. No need to dismantle or throw anything out.

    What would be lovely is if the integration of Album art in iTunes or other music software could also display and download full booklet artwork for flicking through.

    Of course this would be technically very difficult with too many zillion booklets out there that would need to be sent in from each artist and compiled into a format ripe for iTunes etc.

    Probably a job for Google…. when they are done photographing my house. They have done the outside – just waiting for the inside to be recorded and uploaded….

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