SSDs, flash drives, memory cards, and cloud storage have almost pushed optical discs out of the market. “Blanks” have dominated the market for over twenty years – but for the current volume of information they are clearly outdated. So maybe it’s time to finally abandon this outdated media? Or will disks and floppy drives still come in handy?
A brief history of optical storage
The first mainstream optical drives, CD-Rs, hit the mainstream market in the mid-90s and seemed incredible. The volume of 700 MB covered all imaginable and unimaginable requests. Compared to floppy disks of 1.44 MB and 2.88 MB, it seemed fantastic. A little later, CD-RW discs appeared, allowing, in contrast to CD-R, multiple rewriting – you got a full-fledged portable drive, on which you could write and erase information on any computer equipped with a CD-RW drive. The peak speed of the drives at the time of the full heyday of the standard was just over 7 MB / s.
A new type of discs and drives that support them – DVD – came to the “zero” on the mass market. The disks were 4.7 GB, and the write-once and rewritable drives hit the market almost at the same time. There were other options:
DVD + R – discs with an alternative surface, which gives fewer errors during recording;
DVD + RW – with the benefits of DVD + R combined with non-erasing rewriting
DVD-RAM – an improved version of RW that allowed 100 times more rewrites without damaging the drive
DVD-DL – Dual layer discs up to 9.4 GB.
The expansion of a new type of storage was facilitated by the DVD-Video format – the first truly massive digital video standard. DVDs peaked at around 31MB / s for 24x models, but 16x drives with real speeds of up to 21MB / s are the most popular.
DVDs are the latest mainstream optical storage. The third generation of Blu-ray discs, despite the capacities ranging from 25 to 100 GB, has not replaced them in the market. First, discs and floppy drives have become significantly more expensive. Secondly, flash drives and portable hard drives have fallen in price significantly and have grown in volume. Optical discs are no longer perceived as cheap consumables. It became more profitable to buy a USB flash drive or hard drive of the same size. In addition, such media are more convenient to store and easily rewritten. The development of the Internet finally put an end to the development of the Blu-ray format. Now it is used only to distribute licensed films and platformer games.
Why do you need discs today?
Today only DVDs make the most sense: CD volumes are already too small, and Blu-ray drives are still expensive and not common. At the same time, almost everyone has DVD drives, even if they are not used, and new ones are still on sale. Yes, many modern laptops have gotten rid of disk drives and storage space. It’s the same story with cases for home PCs – in the new models there is simply no space for an optical drive. However, external USB drives are still on the market.
What might a DVD come in handy in 2021? Optical discs are the most durable storage media. Disks are not susceptible to infection by viruses. Information from them can be safely read even on infected computers. Another plus is the cost, DVDs are literally a penny, even high-quality ones.
Subject to the storage conditions (temperature from 5 to 25 ° C, humidity up to 50%), high-quality discs can be stored for a very long time. They can be read for two, three, or even four decades. Another equally important condition is to try to keep the optical drives out of bright sunlight and do not scratch them during storage. Use disc bags, cases, or plastic jars. As practice shows, the last option is the best for archival storage of information. In similar plastic “cans” discs are sold in quantities of 10, 25, 50 and 100 pieces.
Personal information carriers
Family photos, documents, music archive, video digitized from VHS cassettes – all this does not need to be viewed every day, and keeping it on an external drive is not always safe. Viruses or a malfunctioning flash memory or hard drive can take your unique information with them forever. DVDs will keep a copy of it for decades – assuming the same conditions of use, of course.
Carriers of rare archival information
Contrary to popular belief, not always everything can be downloaded from the Internet. Some information is deleted due to the expiration of the copyright term, sites stop working, old distributions lose their sources and are not downloaded to the end. Therefore, you need to worry about the safety of rare information yourself – fortunately, it fits perfectly into the volumes of DVD-disks. And thanks to the modern H264 and H265 video codecs, a DVD can even hold a Full HD movie of two hours.
Transferring information to another person
Need to transfer files to someone else safe and sound without requiring you to return the drive? You will not find a carrier cheaper and more reliable than a DVD. The information on the disk is in the “read-only” mode, which excludes its damage by another computer, and, unlike a flash drive, it will not be possible to erase it. “I wrote it down and kept it unchanged for a long time” – the basic rule of DVD media works here as well.
Software and bootable media
The capacities of modern operating systems have not yet exceeded the capacity of a dual-layer DVD disc. And the latest version of Windows 10 21H1 x64 so generally fits into a single-layer 4.7 GB disk. The Multiboot 2K10 multiboot disc is also still distributed as an ISO file for burning onto a single layer DVD. Naturally, a flash drive can be used for the same purposes. However, on older computers, disks can still be useful. In addition, the information on the disks is in the “read-only” mode, which means that your software will definitely not be damaged by any virus. It is rational to store rare software used for installation on DVD. It is not required every day, and if necessary, copying it from disk is a matter of minutes.
How to properly burn and store optical discs
If the information is dear to you, buy good quality DVDs from reputable manufacturers. For example, Verbatim, Sony or Princo – the discs of these companies, recorded two decades ago, are still perfectly readable by the author of this article. For archival information, try not to use double-layer DVD-DL – their recording layers are thinner than ordinary ones, and after a few years not every drive will be able to read them.
DVD drives have long been cured of “childhood sores”, and you can buy any model – if you don’t have the old one. For high-quality recording of archived information on discs, it is best to use the UltraISO program. He is a veteran of the disc burning software market who will turn twenty next year. If the data is very important, before burning, first save it to an ISO file, and then open it to make sure that all the folders and files are in place and located as you want – and only then burn.
It is best to write discs at 8x speed – this way there are fewer errors and a higher probability of successful recording. However, as experience shows, high-quality discs can be written on 16x – Princo discs recorded in this way in 2008-2009 are perfectly readable without errors to this day.