Optical Media and Online Storage

Online backup services have become increasingly popular in recent years. Typically, users log on to the site of the online storage provider (or their software will logon automatically) and transfer their data between their computer and the storage service. In theory, the idea sounds pretty good. In practice, there are potential security risks anytime you transfer data over the Internet.

Further – although the Internet connections within an organization may run at 1 Gbps or higher, it is not uncommon for connections to the Internet to be as limited as just a few Mbps. Thus, moving a 2 GB file in either direction (to or from an offsite storage server) could take a lot of time.

DVD media – whether +R or –R – offers some interesting alternatives to offsite storage. First, because it’s done locally, you avoid the risk of transmitting your sensitive data over a potentially unsecured Internet connection. Further, as much as 4.7 GB of data can be written to a DVD +/- R disc in just a matter of minutes. The same amount of data, sent over the Internet, could take many hours to send or receive.

Data recorded onto a DVD is available whether or not you are connected to the Internet and can be stored for a very long time if properly treated. Certain types of data and program files can ideally be stored on DVD. Audio files that you want to store copies of locally, videos that are stored on your hard disk, documents on your system, Program Files in your Windows directory, and many other types of files can be stored on DVDs. These discs can be compactly stored in a DVD storage case or on a DVD spindle, and kept until they are needed. DVDs will remain important for data storage, sharing data between users, publishing your videos in a format that can be viewed on other computers, and as a target for storing the data files that you want to remove from an already loaded hard drive but to have accessible if they’re ever needed in the future.

Adding to the attractiveness of backing up to DVD media is that fact that, for disaster recovery, you can create a bootable rescue DVD. If your system(s) encounters a catastrophic error (for example, the failure of your system hard drive), you should be able to insert your disaster recovery disc into your computer, reboot, and before too long be on your way. By maintaining one or more DVDs with your critical files, you will be able to copy those files back onto your computer and be back to work quickly – rather than having to connect to offline storage and waiting the minutes or hours it will take to download the data.

With backup over the Internet, you may need to load an operating system first, so that you can connect to your offline storage provider. Or, you may use another computer to connect so that you can download recovery files. And, once you have those files, what will you do with them? You’ll probably burn a bootable recovery DVD – which you should have already had in the first place had you used optical media for your initial DR preparation.

Data is now being stored by some users on offsite storage servers. Typically, users log on to the site of the online storage provider (or their software will logon automatically) and transfer their data between their computer and the storage service. In theory, the idea sounds pretty good. In practice, there are potential security risks anytime you transfer data over the Internet.

Further – although the Internet connections within an organization may run at 1 Gbps or higher, it is not uncommon for connections to the Internet to be as limited as just a few Mbps. Thus, moving a 2 GB file in either direction (to or from an offsite storage server) could take a lot of time.

DVD media – whether +R or –R – offers some interesting alternatives to offsite storage. First, because it’s done locally, you avoid the risk of transmitting your sensitive data over a potentially unsecured Internet connection. Further, as much as 4.7 GB of data can be written to a DVD +/- R disc in just a matter of minutes. The same amount of data, sent over the Internet, could take many hours to send or receive.

Data recorded onto a DVD can be stored for a very long time if properly treated. Certain types of data and program files can ideally be stored on DVD. Audio files that you want to store copies of locally, videos that are stored on your hard disk, documents on your system, Program Files in your Windows directory, and many other types of files can be stored on DVDs. These discs can be compactly stored in a DVD storage case or on a DVD spindle, and kept until they are needed. DVDs will remain important for data storage, sharing data between users, publishing your videos in a format that can be viewed on other computers, and as a target for storing the data files that you want to remove from an already loaded hard drive but to have accessible if they’re ever needed in the future.

Adding to the attractiveness of recording to DVD media is that fact that, for disaster recovery, you can create a bootable rescue DVD. If your system(s) encounters a catastrophic error (for example, the failure of your system hard drive, you should be able to insert your disaster recovery disc into your computer, reboot, and before too long be on your way. By maintaining one or more DVDs with your critical files, you will be able to copy those files back onto your computer and be back to work quickly – rather than having to connect to offline storage and waiting the minutes or hours it will take to download the data.

With backup over the Internet, you may need to load an operating system first, so that you can connect to your offline storage provider. Or, you may use another computer to connect so that you can download recovery files. And, once you have those files, what will you do with them? You’ll probably burn a bootable recovery DVD – which you should have already had in the first place had you used optical media for your initial DR preparation.


[HY1]Using DVD for storage only makes sense for specific applications involving small amounts of data needing permanent/semipermanent storage. Please elaborate.

[HY2]Can’t a person create a rescue DVD, but backup their data online? If so, then this isn’t a very compelling reason to backup using DVDs.

[MB3]Haol: If the system is backed up online, the rescue CD or DVD will only bring them back to a minimal system – it may take HOURS to get the data back from offsite storage. Putting the data onto a DVD will save them the time and hassle of waiting for needed files to (perhaps) successfully download from the offsite backup.

Mark Brownstein is a technology journalist and technology consultant who specializes in explaining and interpreting new technologies, and clarifying how to integrate these new products into current systems. He has been Editor-In-Chief at computer technology and networking publications, has held significant editorial positions at major technology magazines, and is a frequent contributor to various technology magazines. He has written seven books. He is Microsoft Certified, and spends much of his time testing hardware and software products, running his own networks, and learning the best ways to get computer systems running and to keep them running.

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