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Thread: Is optical media (CDs and DVDs) obsolete?

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    Is optical media (CDs and DVDs) obsolete?

    Is optical media obsolete?

    With consumer-grade desktop hard disks these days offering capacities of 3TB in a single volume, and USB flash memory drives offering mimimum capacities greater a single DVD, I cannot see much of a need for CDs or DVDs any more.

    For purchasing music, TV shows and movies, the offering of digital downloads has eclipsed purchases of physical media.

    I haven't used DVDs for backup purposes for years, as they just do not have enough capacity. When a single shoot can easily exceed what one DVD can provide, there's little point using them.

    Apart from the insufficient capacity, I don't trust the reliability of optical media; it can be easily damaged, and sometimes just doesn't work in a given drive.

    I was sent a DVD recently, but my machine could not read it. I had to insert it into another machine and copy the files to a USB stick.

    Additionally, some laptop/notebook computers these days do not even provide optical drives. The latest generation of the MacBook Pro (my computer of choice) no longer includes an integrated optical drive (an optional external unit can be purchased), and Apple these days prefers to supply new versions of Mac OS X via digital downloads from the Apple Store.

    What optical media has in its favour is that it's cheap. If you need to send files to someone on physical media, it's cheaper to use optical media. For that reason I still keep CDs and DVDs here; I otherwise don't use them, and won't replace them when I run out (which could take years).

    All of my data resides on my MacBook Pro's hard disk, but I regularly (weekly or fotnightly) back up to three external hard disks, two of which I keep here, and the third of which I keep at a geographically-diverse location. A few weeks ago I bought another external hard disk which is going to Africa with us this week (and which I'll use for keeping a separate copy of all of our images), but when we get back it will probably serve as a fourth backup drive.

    So, what do others think? Has optical media outlived its usefulness?

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    Yeah I think you are right. Other than using CDs in the car I have no use for them and most modern cars offer alternate media options anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fess67 View Post
    Yeah I think you are right. Other than using CDs in the car I have no use for them and most modern cars offer alternate media options anyway.
    Yep, mine offers iPhone Bluetooth integration. The car's sound system does provide a CD player, but it is so well hidden in the physical design that I couldn't find it at first, and thought there wasn't one included!

    I still many store-bought CDs and DVDs, but the CDs sit on the rack and virtually never get touched.

    We do watch the DVDs, though. As far as TV and movies, I'm still living in the 20th century, and have never downloaded a TV show or movie. I just don't watch that much of the thing.

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    And I thought 1/2" 9track 6250bpi 2400' mag tape was the ants pants in the day

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    I have my music all stored on my NAS box and play it through the computer. I have not gone down the line of putting the movies on there yet but it is probably the next logical step and the current software offerings make it relatively easy now.

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    I still use CD's & DVD's as the download limits on Bigpong Mobile (The only way I can connect here) is so small and expensive I am stuck with buying or renting CD's and DVD's.
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    G'day mate

    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Is optical media obsolete?.... If you need to send files to someone on physical media, it's cheaper to use optical media. ....
    I go thru a 50-pack of CDs each month as I copy photo editing workshop images to disk for distribution within the 120-page manual that students receive. As you say, they're cheap - also it means that all students have a master image to return to in the future if they bugger up the copy on their pc

    Certainly from a long-term financial &/or data security point of view, optical does not win the prize > data security in the form of a weekly backup of your data if you do one ... what do you do with the old ones? and what do you do if/when you find that 'someone' has a copy of all your data?
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    I still use dvds to transfer around info when I have a problem with my usb....I have often come across the issue of my pc not recognising various usb drives at one time or another. I find it very frustrating and revert to putting the info I want to copy/move etc on a dvd, they never fail me whereas usbs have on many occaisons. However I couldn't tell you when the last time I bought a movie or music dvd was...I download everything to ipad and ipod these days. It's great!!!No clutter involved ie: storage of said dvds
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktoopi View Post
    I still use dvds to transfer around info when I have a problem with my usb....I have often come across the issue of my pc not recognising various usb drives at one time or another. I find it very frustrating and revert to putting the info I want to copy/move etc on a dvd, they never fail me whereas usbs have on many occaisons.
    How odd that our experiences have been opposite.

    I've never had an issue with a USB stick or hard disk, but CDs/DVDs are really quite random in their willingness to be readable.

    I find optical media too clumsy and unreliable, as well as insufficient in capacity.
    Last edited by Xenedis; 02-10-2012 at 3:08pm.

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    Just came back from the post office, sent 4 DVDs to 4 potential clients for my wedding sample package.

    I still use DVDs to submit wedding photos etc.

    And Dropbox for other forms of clients and work so they can download, especially if the client is overseas or if I need to send to a group of ppl/clients at any one time.

    Optical drives are far from obsolete, but for long term storage and backups they are, I mean really? That is something that is already recognized a few years ago.
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    If you think optical storage is obsolete, then you've never had problems reinstalling Windows7 from a usb.

    I spent a week trying to get this to work. I tried so many variations it wasn't funny. I spent hours trolling forums. I tried everything. Then I tried a mates DVD drive ... .BINGO!

    They're slow, and easily scratched, but for some things theyr're invaluable.

    the key term that hasn't been mentioned here is Blue Ray. 50+ Gigs on a single disc is useful, although I'm not sure what the going rate for blank blue ray's is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    If you think optical storage is obsolete, then you've never had problems reinstalling Windows7 from a usb.
    I've never installed Windows 7 at all -- I like my computer too much.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    How odd that our experiences have been opposite.

    I've never had an issue with a USB stick or hard disk, but CDs/DVDs are really quite random in their willingness to be readable.

    I find optical media too clumsy and unreliable, as well as insufficient in capacity.
    It is odd that our experiences have been the complete opposite!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktoopi View Post
    ....I have often come across the issue of my pc not recognising various usb drives at one time or another. I find it very frustrating and revert to putting the info I want to copy/move etc on a dvd, they never fail me whereas usbs have on many occaisons.
    And dvd works better after spilling wine one them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    I've never installed Windows 7 at all -- I like my computer too much.
    oh... YTou're one of "Those"!

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    Someone has already touched on the topic, and the key here is BlueRay optical media.

    So to answer the question accurately, it'd have to be a no! .. but then again, yes( or soon enough).

    CD's and DVD's are not yet obsolete, but in due time they also will be, just as all other removable media have become so.

    And it's simple maths that does it.

    Installing Windows from a USB stick is a doddle, and on my tablet I have no option other than a USB stick, and having done that already, I now prefer to install Windows from a USB stick, now having already modded the install files with as many updates and patches and service pack options already out and available.
    While it's not easy, it's also not hard to do from a USB stick .. so there's another knock out blow for CD and DVD media as a useful resource. Once written too(as an OS install media) it's done and dusted, and if I want to re-install Windows with all the updates in one hit, then I need to waste another DVD disk to do so ... obviously the USB sitck has the ability to be rewritten too over and over.

    A single write BR disk will cost you about $2 in bulk, (10 for $20) and a 50 pack spindle of DVDs should cost you about the same money. So in theory there should be no reason not to use BR over DVD as a source of file transfer, even if the media is to be considered disposable.
    But the issue for BR disks is that to be more cost effective, you really need 25G of data to transfer, and if the transfer is more like 4, 5 or even 10Gigs, the DVD media is still more cost effective .. especially if that transfer is to be in a single direction(disposable media).

    If it's for the purpose of file archiving, then a better argument could be made for the BR media.

    Therefore what holds back BR as a more accepted form of media archiving is the cost! There's not enough benefit in using it until the cost per Gig reduces substantially!

    When comparing BR disks to mechanical hard drives, even the most expensive hdds cost less per gig, than rewritable BR disks do.
    A BR-RE(rewriteable) disk cost a approximately $5 ... ie. 20c a Gig, where a very fast top end 3Tb drive only costs ($200) 15c per gig.

    For me personally, apart from maintaining OS'es and stuff like that, I stopped using DVD's ages ago. Spent too much on backing up the kids movies onto them, and having to do it every month or so, as they destroyed them all too often.
    So in the end a while back I got myself a networked DVD player to begin with, and the kids watch the movies with the stored files on my PC's battery of hard drives.
    Then that became a hassle as my PC had to be on, for them to watch their favoured movies and cartoon series.
    So the networked DVD player gave way to a combo NAS/media player, which now gives me a networked file centre as another backup source.
    This gets me by for the kids movies, while I still try to sort out what NAS gear I want to eventually go for for my final storage requirements.

    optical media is not in that particular future, and I doubt I'll ever get to use the 100 or so writeable DVD's I still have from all those years ago.

    Internet speeds are still way too slow for any meaningful file transfers too.
    I'm running an FTP server myself, but it's really only for important but very small file transferring and saving such as xls, doc or txt files .. barely 50-100kb files, and they're annoyingly slow to upload.
    Can't imagine trying to upload a proper raw file to a home based server.

    CDs and DVDs still have their place, but once file sizes increase to a point where these media types are useless too, just like the floppy disk, then we'll see the back of the CD/DVD and for all.


    What's really interesting to me(more so) than the relevance of CD/DVD media is the lack of any major increases in mechanical hard drive sizes.
    They topped out at 3Tb a year or so ago.. actually more! .. and only now are we seeing 4Tb drives, but a silly prices.
    It's wasn't that long ago where you purchased a 250G drive one day, only read in the (tech) news a few hours later that the latest drives have been pushed to 500G, and then 1Tb a few months later and so on.. they seemed to double capacities every other month .. and then bam! .. it seemed to have just stopped.
    Hitachi 4Tb drive retails for just under $600, where a high end 3Tb drive is more like mid $100's!!
    For $600, I can populate my (impending NAS box) with 12Tb of drive space(but that doesn't allow for any redundancy).

    $1500(total cost of NAS box) worth of 25G re-writeable BR disks actually isn't so bad ..... if not for the point that they'll never work act as a file server!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    I've never had an issue with a USB stick or hard disk, but CDs/DVDs are really quite random in their willingness to be readable.
    I would propose that this is the norm rather than the exception.

    I used to archive data on CD, then DVD, as my capacity requirements increased over the years. Years ago I went through my CDs, looking to move them across to DVD, and a lot of them wouldn't read properly. Now, I've discarded 95% of the CDs I used to own. And my DVDs won't be too far behind; what was back-ups from my hard disk are now taking many more times the space of a 2nd hard drive. It's almost silly to use optical media now.

    Just yesterday I client sent us a DVD with some software; it arrived with a huge crack. He's re-sending a USB stick today.
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    Is optical media (CDs and DVDs) obsolete?

    I still use optical media as part of my backup strategy, burning a copy of the master RAW's straight after downloading. Kept offsite along with external drives for redundancy.

    I guess some feel optical media has had its day, my new iMac on order no longer comes with a built in optical drive - have to buy an external if you want one.
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