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Langa Letter: Small Acronym, Big Help

Fred Langa explores three important technologies best known by their three-letter abbreviations.
CD-R
CD-R is another TLA that no one spells out ("compact disc-recordable") anymore. We covered CD-R as a backup medium here and here.

While the basic information in those articles also hasn't changed, the old pricing equation is about to collapse. That's because writable and rewritable DVD systems have burst on the consumer-electronics scene, offering storage capacities anywhere from around 5 Gbytes to around 9 Gbytes per disk. In contrast, standard CDs hold only around 0.7 Gbytes (700 Mbytes).

It's not yet time to switch to DVD for backups. DVD-W and DVD-RW units are still pricey, and there are still some standards issues to be resolved. I think it'll be another two years or so before DVD-R or DVD-RW is affordable and compatible enough to be a serious contender for routine use as a backup device.

But in the meantime, the makers of CD-R and CD-RW drives and supplies are responding to the new "threat" of DVD entering their market by lowering prices even more. Right now, you can buy a brand-new CD-R burner for about $80 and routinely pick up blank CDs for less than 25 cents each--much less, if you find a sale and buy in bulk. In fact, Best Buy, a national consumer-electronics chain, recently had a promotion that coupled a sale with a manufacturer's refund. The result was that the net cost of a spindle of 50 blank CDs was exactly $0.00--they were free. That's how inexpensive CD-R disks are these days.

If you've been hesitating about trying CD-R, it's time to rethink. CD-R drives and blank disks are incredibly cheap, with prices approaching rock bottom. You simply won't find a less expensive way to archive and safely store large amounts of data.

More TLAs?
What are your experiences with KVM, UPS, and CD-R? What brands or types have you tried, and what were the results? What other devices and technologies--three-letter abbreviated or not--are in flux and worth a fresh look? Join in the discussion!