As Sony quits the optical storage device market, and cloud storage costs become ever lower, how long will it be before we struggle to find devices to access those DVD archives or Blu-ray backup discs?
How Do You Backup Your Data?
In the old PC days, life was simple. You copied your files to a few floppy diskettes, kept one set on the desk, one in a safe and one at home, and voila, a business-class archive storage solution was born. Hard disk storage on those voluminous Winchester drives made things a little simpler, until files became too big for floppies.
So, over the years, we had tape, then optical, portable HDD and now cloud storage, all offering ways to keep your data safe and secure. Enterprises probably use a mix of all kinds, but smaller businesses will likely be indoctrinated with the good old regular DVD-R back-up. Those companies won't be in danger any time soon, but like the floppy before it, the DVD and Blu-ray drive are soon to become endangered species.
In the news this week, the big blow to DVD's future was Sony is closing down its optical drive manufacturing unit. In the wider PC world, we see a majority of svelte upcoming Windows 8 devices that won't be seen dead lugging a bulky optical drive, and Amazon's offer of cheap Glacier cloud-based archival storage putting more data online,
On the positive side, there are plenty of drive makers still in business, but optical drives and discs will become a reducing commodity, like floppies, ZiP drives and other formats, which are still in use around the world, but in ever-fewer numbers.
Most of us will adapt and overcome, gradually moving our DVD archives back to portable hard drives, or as online storage becomes cheaper, to the cloud. The general reliability of DVD drives means investing in a couple of internal units for a tower PC (remember them) or an external unit for your notebook will be an easy way to ensure some degree of future compatibility.
As long as you look after them, the storage media too is pretty reliable, so there will be no great panic. Internet-savvy companies are probably using their remaining DVDs for target shooting. Still, there are tens of millions of users and smaller businesses who will need to start looking ahead now and planning to ensure historical data, digital documents, official photos and family backups are all accessible for that that time when you dig out a DVD and suddenly realise there is nothing in the office or home to play it on.