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Flash Drives in Comparison to Disc Media

Computer writable compact discs have been around in the consumer sector since 1995 (when writers finally dropped below $1000) and digital video discs have been on the commercial market since 1996. Flash media, on the other hands, has been accessible since the mid 1980’s. Yet despite this fact, many people have seen discs as a storage medium in a more positive light than flash media.

One major difference between the two is that commercial media has been traditionally delivered on discs since the 1980’s when the CD audio format stormed the music world. With the advent of DVDs to drive out video cassettes in the mid 1990’s, the idea of discs as media storage was firmly entrenched in consumers’ minds.

Connecting USB flash memory stick

Flash media on the other hand has been very popularly powering small equipment for a long time. Originally consumers used PCMCIA cards to add storage to laptops in the 1980’s. Digital cameras have used varying flash media formats since they arrived on the market. Mobile phones are expanded by use of flash cards.

The perception is that media long term storage is best accomplished with discs, while recording that media is often done using flash. In recent years, flash media has become a component of high end computer storage as SSDs have been brought to market.

Now, the question is, when should you be using disc media, and when is flash the better bet? The answer is that it’s highly dependent on what you want to do.

  • If you want to store audio files in a standard CD format, you have a single choice: the writable CD disc. This is not a good bargain in terms of actual storage space, however.
  • If you are looking for easy access to your media at all times, you might choose to go flash with an SSD, but this will be quite expensive. (A traditional hard drive is a great alternative here, and if you buy a sufficiently large one it’s extremely inexpensive on a per GB basis.)
  • For larger file storage if you don’t mind swapping discs, DVDs are extremely affordable per GB. (Only large traditional hard drives will generally outperform them on price. Flash media has no chance.)
  • If you’re looking to move from place to place with highly portable, robust media, flash memory is your clear choice. From USB thumb drives to memory cards of varying sizes, many devices can read this type of memory. It’s not susceptible to wear and tear as much as discs are.

While it is clear that flash memory is more expensive than DVDs, prices continue to fall for flash, while discs have remained relatively unchanged in terms of price for a significant period of time. In the future it’s probably that we will be trading in our discs for something “flashier” but for now, DVD discs in particular offer excellent long term storage.

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