Go, Back Up!

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Oct - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Oct - 2005
Go, Back Up!
This monsoon will not be forgotten easily by the Digit team for multiple reasons, and they're all bad. First, almost the entire team was stranded in office following the cloudburst of July 26. And just as life at Digit was returning to normal, another tragedy struck. This time, it was a hard disk crash epidemic.

There's a dark side to this world of high-capacity storage: different formats and layers spring up uncomfortable compatibility issues

It started with all the copy editors losing their data, and the problem escalated to epidemic  proportions when it spread to the Test Centre. To top it all, the hard drives on the main server also died.

Well, we learnt our lesson the hard way, and decided to change our backup processes. The most important thing to do was to do away with CD-RWs and go in for DVD-RWs. For this, we would need to replace all the CD-Writers with DVD-Writers, and who else was to be handed this task but Yours Truly! So off I went, and I decided to chronicle my quest since it would help you, our readers, too.

Now, there's a dark side to this world of high- capacity storage: different formats and layers spring up uncomfortable compatibility issues. It's not as simple as the world of the 700 MB CD-ROM. So before you go out and buy a DVD drive, there are some things you need to know.

There are two types of DVD media available-single- and dual-layer. While the single layer variant has a capacity of 4.7 GB per disk, dual-layer offers a whopping 8.5 GB of space on a single flat disk. What this also means is there are two types of writers available. To further complicate matters, each of the dvd media has two flavours-called formats-denoted by DVD R and DVD-R. To write on both, your DVD drive should support them. There are some drives that support only one format, and this is something to be wary of. Your best option to avoid compatibility issues is to go for a Dual Layer-Dual Format (DL-DF) drive.

On my way to the mecca of hardware in Mumbai-Lamington Road-I was making a mental note of what brands and models to ask for, the favourites being Lite-On and Sony.

My first stop was a shop that stocked only Sony drives. From past experience, we know there are two types of Sony drives available. There are subtle differences between the two, the most prominent being the markings on the bezel. While the OEM drive has just the DVD-RW logo, the real Sony-made drive has 'Sony' on it. Being a premium brand, Sony products are usually a little expensive. The DL-DF drive by Sony was about Rs 4,000. Not enough choice for a decision yet. Onward ho!

At the next shop, I was presented with two choices: Lite-On and Pioneer. Both make excellent DVD drives and should ideally pose no problems. However, with Pioneer drives, there is a high possibility of running into media compatibility issues. There is a list of supported and compatible media on their Web site, and if you stick with these, you will have no problems. But this also means you may not be able to use new media that may be introduced. A tricky situation... For the record, the A109 is Pioneer's latest drive, and retails for around Rs 6,000.

Lite-On has always been our favourite: our experience has shown that there aren't too many compatibility issues with these drives, and they don't cost a bomb. During my hunt there were two models available from Lite-On: the 1673s is the running model, and the 1693s is the new flagship model, which caught my eye. We'd recommend the DL-DF 1693s if money is not an issue. The 1673s retails for about Rs 2,750, while the 1693s costs about Rs 3,100.

Plextor, too, should be a drive of choice if you care for the best and money is not a problem. Plextor drives have always been known for some exceptional quality and don't normally disappoint. But they do come at a premium, and retail for about Rs 7,000.

BenQ, too, markets some good drives, and should be considered if you can't locate Lite-On dealers in your vicinity. The LightScribe technology with BenQ drives is an added feature. Using this, you can label or even etch photographs on the non-data side of the media. This, though, requires a special coat on the media, and such disks are not yet freely available.

Apart from these brands, the regulars-LG and Samsung-also have DVD drives, but you can safely forget about them if Lite-On is available. For our backup process, I got the Lite-On 1693s for around Rs 3,100. And yes, we've changed schedules, and now back up twice a month!

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