Making Sense of Optical Storage

November 2004
by Reid Goldsborough

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Computer manufacturers have always loved their acronyms, and this has never been so evident as in the world of computer optical storage. It’s an alphabet soup: DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD-ROM, CD-RW, CD-R, and CD-ROM. It sometimes makes you feel you need a Ph.D. to make sense of it all.

While computer hard and floppy drives and the disks they store data on are based on the physics of magnetism, optical drives and their disks are based on the physics of light, or optics. DVDs and their predecessors, CDs, use high-intensity lasers to read and write information on the disk surface.

The technology keeps beaming ahead, with the latest innovation being double-layer (also called dual-layer) DVD recorders, or “burners.” Sony (, long an innovator in the optical disk market, recently introduced the first product of this type, the DRU-710A, an internal drive (for inside the computer). To install it, you typically remove your current optical drive and put the new drive in its place. Sony’s internal drive was followed by the DRX-710UL, an external version that’s easier to set up but that takes up more space.

Instead of 6,000 Floppies

The main benefit of the new technology: These drives have nearly double the capacity of single-layer 4.7-gigabyte DVD drives, letting you store a mind-boggling 8.5 gigabytes of content on a single featherweight disk you can slip in your coat pocket. That’…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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