It Is Time To Dump DVD, Adopt Blu-ray As Optical Media of ChoiceMadana Prathap, 24 Aug' 2011
Like most people, you may have a bunch of songs, movies and games on your hard disk drive. If you're reading this, you probably are ahead of the technology curve too. To significant numbers of PC users today, the "T-word" is no big deal at all, and use or push multiple Terabytes of data around the house with banal regularity.
Unfortunately, those who fall in this space get reminded only too often that the mainstream is yet to catch up. Want large hard drives? Wait until 3TB drives are proven to be reliable. Want speedy LAN transfers? Get relegated to the back of the queue while the shopkeeper digs out a Gigabit Switch/Router for you.
Want to backup data, or push data out of your hard drive? Be forced to use teensy-weensy writable DVDs! These are too limited in storage capacity (4.7 GB), and too slow to write data (by Terabyte standards). And you're left with an unwieldy avalanche of discs to archive and catalogue, for easy identification in future.
It does not help that most content today can be quite large and span multiple DVDs. Heaven save the soul who wants to write out to disc, about 102 GB of inter-related video content files. Even worse than sitting and writing 25 DVDs for just a single home video, is having to respond when someone would like you to share the same with them. Even if your desktop has two DVD Writers, pull out the discs in twos, reading off the discs and writing to new blank discs... can be an exhausting and Herculean task.
The solution is to use external hard drives for backup instead, say some users seated in the back row. Here are a few problems with that approach:
1. Virus infestations are a major concern on data-editable media.
2. External HDDs entail too much upfront cost, instead of spreading cost across time.
3. Data backups should ideally be on a predictable device/media. You'll lose critical data and need to reach for your backup, probably once in your lifetime. That one time, stuff had better function, else you're in a soup of monumental proportions. Whether HDD or optical disc, no single media is sufficiently non-volatile.
4. When someone asks to borrow an external HDD to share data located on it, have fun coming up with excuses why you can't lend the drive.
5. Even the costly ultra-portable USB HDDs only offer upto 1TB capacity, and the larger ones that demand external power are impolite little runts. Whatcha gonna do? Buy twenty little portable USB drives and pray to god they don't fall down, run into a hardware mal-function or get affected by magnetic currents?
The solution is simple, continue to use optical media, for the benefits of familiar practices. But just as you moved from Floppy disk to CD and then DVD, it is time to move on to Bluray discs.
Why should you love Bluray Discs (BD)? Let me count the ways:
1. Lots of storage on a single disc, almost six times more capacity than a DVD at the minimum.
2. Data is quite safe, and you already know how to maintain optical media with minimum scratches.
3. Compatible with old practices - archive in CD albums, make copies easily, lend without having to think too much, and so on.
4. BD is now sufficiently affordable for the target audience.
5. Is a nice excuse to upgrade your optical drive to watch high definition movies on your cool LCD.
Read on for substantiated claims.
See below for a graph of the storage space available on four types of optical media. Also see the time taken to write/burn one disc and verify data at current maximum writing speed:
Note: Here x = 150 KB/s for CD, 1350 KB/s for DVD and 4500 KB/s for Bluray Disc. This is because the progression of formats meant higher bitrates were required at every step (Audio CD, Video DVD and finally Video Bluray).
See below for a graph of the time required and the number of discs you'd need to write 200GB in each of the four formats:
Note: Dual-Layer DVD is included but Dual-Layer Bluray media has been excluded in this list because I have not tried it yet.
After actually seeing a wide-angle view for a significant amount of data, some things come up for discussion. Notice how the time taken to burn does not reduce very much proportion-wise, going from DVD to Bluray. This is because even 4x/6x rated blank BD-R discs land up being written to, at an average of 2x on the whole. But as faster BD-R media (potentially up to 12x) becomes available, this factor will be solved.
But one thing is obvious - you get to write a massive amount of data on just 8 Bluray discs, which is a far easier number to manage. Compare this to 45 discs in the case of DVD, where you'd have to remain seated in front of the computer to keep swapping discs every few minutes, and generally just have to do so much more nannying of the write process.
So what does it cost to use Bluray discs, and how does it compare to the media we are familiar with? Below is a graph depicting this - price of a single disc, and price for 200 GB worth of discs, to be able to compare to the previous example.
Note: Current price of blank optical media per disc, with normal pricing seen in India for good brands and quality. The above is valid as of the time of writing.
The result may surprise sceptical people. When seen from an angle of sufficient scale, the price disadvantage of using Bluray instead of DVD is only Rupees 1 per Gigabyte! So wouldn't you rather pay that one Rupee for convenience, minimal headaches, and to just get on with your work?
Keep in mind too, that at the present rate, you will keep having many more hundreds of Gigabytes landing and laying about on your PC's internal HDD. Portable HDDs are for data transport rather than long-term archival. The price of PC internal Bluray Writers is well worth the results, so why not adopt it?
If you have any questions, have details to correct something I said, or want to voice your opinion, e-mail me or leave a comment below.
Madana Prathap Armchair advisor to the tech industry and a passionate believer in his pet topics. Disagreeing with the mainstream is only all too familiar to him, and is simply a debate with no malice intended. As a self-proclaimed PC devotee for a decade and a half, he is as opinionated as can be in the Opinions section.
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