Buying Guide - Blank Media

What type is right for you?

Blank media is the common name given to the storage devices used in computers, laptops and other digital electronic devices. Popularly used blank media storage devices include optical discs, memory cards, flash drives, and external hard drives. Blank media is portable and allow for easy and convenient data transfer, and is available from many manufacturers, including TDK, Verbatim and Imation.

The most popular form of blank media you'll be familiar with is optical discs. Optical blank media discs include CDs (Compact Discs), DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) and Blu-ray discs, and there are many versions categorized under those headings CDs have versions that include CD-R and CD-RW. DVDs have DVD-R & DVD+R, DVD-RW and, Dual-layer DVDs. Blu-ray optical discs are classified as BD-R and BD-RE.

Take your pick

CDs

CD-R means compact disc-recordable. On these you can store music, photos, videos and other multimedia by burning the CD in your system using the associated software. The data burned becomes permanent on a CD-R. These discs cannot be re-written, which means that you can burn them only once. A CD-R can store up to 700 MB of data or 80 minutes of audio. It is possible to purchase CD-R discs in many multiples, for example Fuki X50 discs.

CD-RW means compact disc-rewriteable. On these CDs, the data stored can be erased allowing you to burn a new set of data, overwriting the old one. CD-RWs can be burned allowing for multiple rewrites, which makes them more efficient when compared to CD-Rs.

DVDs

A DVD-R and DVD+R can store data up to 4.7 GB. On a DVD-R the data that has been stored cannot be erased. A DVD+R also works in the same way but the difference is  that a DVD+R is designed to store data on both the sides of the disc. Most DVD players support DVD-R and DVD+R discs. As with CDs, DVDs can be purchased in any amount from a few to many. For example, if you don’t envisage needing to use them often, you may be interested in buying Imation 16x DVD-R Media.

On a DVD-RW (rewriteable), data can be burned on the same disc multiple times overwriting the old ones. They can store data up to 4.7 GB – considerably more than CDs. DVD-RWs are the most popularly used blank media forms.

Dual-layer DVDs have twice the memory capacity as compared to other standard DVD formats. Not all systems support dual layer DVD forms for burning data.

Blu-ray Discs

These are the latest blank media optical disc forms. BD-R & BD-RE can offer data storage up to 25 GB – an advancement from both CDs and DVDs. BD-R stands for Blu-ray disc recordable and BD-RE stands for Blu-ray disc rewriteable and as you may expect, the BD-RE is the more efficient one. Apart from BD-R & BD-RE there are also dual-layer BD-Rs available that can store information up to 50GB. Blu-ray discs require Blu-ray drives, so before buying a Blu-ray disc check if your system is compatible for this disc.

Cartridges

Data cartridges or DAT (Data Audio Tapes) catridges are used for backing up servers and large amounts of important data. This is a great way for large companies specializing in heavy data (accounting, for example) to keep their records on file for years. Cartridge capacities range from 1.3GB of uncompressed data all the way up to 320GB with a 2:1 compression ratio used. HP and Sony now make DAT 320 cartridges that range for about £20-£35.