Data backup is an absolutely essential part of regular computer maintenance. If you don’t back up your files, eventually you’ll lose them. Whether your computer has solid state memory or a hard drive, the memory eventually fails, and when it does, it takes your files with it, so it simply makes good sense to keep a backup at all times.
One form of data backup that many people use are DVDs and CDs. Burnable discs have both big advantages and big disadvantages when it comes to backup.
Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of using burnable discs as your data backup method.
Pro: They’re cheap. CD-Rs and DVD-Rs are extremely inexpensive these days. A roll of CD-Rs can be purchased for about $20, which gives you a lot more data storage possibility than many $100 hard drives. DVDs are even cheaper per gigabyte. This is one of the biggest reasons that some consumers decide to use them for backup.
Con: They’re not always reliable. Despite the low cost, there’s a big problem with optical media–they occasionally don’t burn right. Buffer underruns and other problems mean that out of every batch of CD-Rs or DVD-Rs, occasionally one or two might be bad. If that’s the disc that had your important files on it, your data backup is moot.
Pro: Most computers have DVD or CD burners. Modern computers include the drives as a pretty standard feature. Since they’re already right there (and data burning software is inexpensive, if not already included on the operating system), it seems like an obvious first go-to for data backup.
Con: They’re slow. True, all computers have DVD or CD burning drives, but they also have USB ports that can be used for much faster data backup methods such as flash drives or USB hard drives. Transferring small files takes less time when dealing with one of these rewritable mediums than with a CD-R or DVD-R, because you have to wait for the disc to be closed and mastered. Plus, as we’ve already covered, you’ve got to double check the files to make sure that they burned correctly.
Pro: Many data backup programs support optical media. Data backup programs, including programs included in Windows 7 and other versions of Windows, often have built in support to back up an entire hard drive to CDs or DVDs.
Con: Optical media can’t be set up to back up automatically. The best forms of data backup are automatic. This way, user error is taken out of the equation. With CDs and DVDs, a user must be present to feed the next disc in the sequence to the computer. This can make data backup a hassle, and if you need to back up your computer more than one time, the hassle quickly seems to outweigh the benefits.
Do you use CDs or DVDs for backup? Post your thoughts in our comments section below.