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Read, Write, ROM – Choosing CD and DVD Discs
Not all of those little round shiny discs are created equal. Just because a disc fits in your computer’s disc drive doesn’t mean it’ll be up to the task at hand. So, look carefully before buying a spindle full of CDs or DVDs.
disc against disc
For starters, CDs and DVDs are optical media formats, so they should be called “discs.” Disk, on the other hand, refers to magnetic media, such as old-school floppy disks, your computer’s hard drive, and external hard drives. Do a Google search for more on word entomology, but that should be enough for your shopping list or essay.
CD vs. DVD
Now that discs (not discs) are on your shopping lists, you have to choose between CDs or DVDs. Determine what format will be acceptable to the computer or device that will read the information after it is saved. For example, if you have a DVD player, but want to save the tax files to disk for your accountant, first find out what kind of media player the accounting firm has available. If they only have a CD drive, you’ll need to save your files to a CD.
But you have a DVD player, so how can you record to a CD? CDs can be used in CD and DVD players. Since DVD players and players were developed after CDs, they were made backwards compatible with the earlier CD format.
GB versus MB
Besides compatibility, the biggest difference between CDs and DVDs is capacity. The average CD stores 700MB of data while an average DVD holds 4.7GB, which is about six times more than a CD. When purchasing, storage capacities can also be expressed in minutes of audio or video that you can burn.
+ against –
You are not quite ready to make your purchase yet. After the CD or DVD name, look for a dash or plus sign followed by another letter or two. The difference is the result of competing manufacturers. The dash came first, so like CDs it tends to be more widely compatible. The plus format was introduced later and it may not work successfully in DVD players and some older DVD players.
R versus RW versus ROM versus RAM
After the dash or plus sign comes “R” or “RW”. CDs or DVDs with an R can be burned once, then the disc becomes a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM with permanent, indelible content. CD-RW and DVD-RW (R=read; W=write) discs can be written multiple times as your files are updated, edited and modified. Finally, there is a DVD-RAM format that generally only works on DVD-RAM compatible players. This version of RAM DVD was primarily designed for business backups.
Compatibility vs Efficiency
Sometimes when you buy CDs or DVDs, you’ll also see a write speed, which tells you how fast video, audio, or data can be written to the disc. First, make sure your disk writing hardware supports the same speed or higher. This should not affect compatibility, only efficiency. The number expresses how fast your hard drive can write to a disc relative to the time it takes to read video content. For example, if you have a 120 minute video stored on your computer’s hard drive, you should be able to burn it to an 8x DVD in 15 minutes (8 x 15 mins = 120 mins).
So, when choosing drives, start with the end user of the media. Find out what is compatible with the hardware that will read or play your discs to ensure successful sharing.
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