Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Buyer's Guide 2006: Speedy, Spacious Storage
Solutions for creating a reliable digital image library
Smaller, high-capacity units also are compact enough for travel. If this is an important feature to you, you'll benefit from a unit that has a protective housing made with materials that help absorb shock. In the event you drop it, the extra protection will safeguard your data.
Cooling. Another important function of hard drive housing is its ability to disperse heat. If you plan on running your drive for an extended period of time, you'll want to check out any functions or materials that are used to help cool down the drive during use.
Magnesium alloy is a good example of housing material that wicks away heat. Plastic doesn't lose heat very well and can lead to excessive heat buildup, which can corrupt data and simply isn't healthy for a hard drive.
CDs. Ideal for storing or sending modest numbers of images, CDs have become popular for a variety of photographic uses. Because of their low cost and compatibility with just about any computer system, CDs are widely used. Capacity levels are typically 640 MB or 700 MB, which limits their ability to handle large numbers of image files.
CDs come in two types—CD-R and CD-RW. CD-Rs are made for single use and most appropriate for photographs. CD-RWs allow you to rewrite information; that is, they're designed to change, not something you want to happen to your image files.
DVDs—The Pluses And Minuses. You'll notice that DVDs have either a plus or minus sign, which simply refers to the DVD format type. The various formats aren't always compatible so check your computer or DVD player before purchasing this media.
Disk media for backup purposes and image libraries can be reserved for the larger-capacity DVDs. Capable of storing up to 4.7 GB, a DVD holds more information, but has the same physical size of a CD. DVD-Rs and DVD+Rs are recommended for photographic storage. DVD-RWs and DVD+RWs (rewritable) have the same problems as rewritable CDs, in that the integrity of data can be affected by the malleability of the media.
Life Span. Whether you plan to use CD-Rs or DVD-R/DVD+Rs for permanent storage, be sure to check what the manufacturer says about resistance to scratching as well as archivability. New coatings and technology have led some manufacturers to make life-span claims of up to 300 years. It's a good thing when you see archival claims of some sort because it means that the manufacturer has performed tests and has confidence in its product.
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