DVDs vs External HDs & Flash Memory Drives

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DVDs vs External HDs & Flash Memory Drives

DVD Burner in New Computer

My friend Al Roller called to say he bought a new computer with a DVD burner and asked if I had any suggestions on copying files to a disc. When I asked what kind of files, Al said, "I have a friend in Germany to whom I've been sending CDs containing photos, videos and music. Now I'd like to send him DVDs because they hold more material."

"Well, rather than sending a DVD," I suggested, "How about using a flash memory thumb drive? They are available with storage sizes much larger than a DVD and it's much easier to drag and drop files to a thumb drive than it is to burn discs." "But thumb drives are more expensive than DVDs," Al pointed out, but then quickly added, "Well, then he could use them for sending files back to me."

"Right," I agreed, but then asked, "Why not just upload the files to a free media-sharing service, such as MySpace?"

Al said he hadn't thought of doing it that way, but would look into it.

External Hard Drives Preferred to a DVD Burner

I have no doubt there are some valid reasons for copying files to a DVD, but I've never used the burner in my own PC. I bought my last computer with a built-in DVD burner, thinking I would use it to back up all my important files to DVDs. Instead, however, I back up all my files to a couple of external hard drives, whose gigantic storage capacities and low purchase prices make burning, labeling and storing CDs and DVDs or any other kind of disks seem like a lot of unnecessary work.

As an example, I've seen Maxtor 500 GB Hard Drives at Office Depot for $150. But it pays to shop around. Amazon.com may have them at even lower prices.

As for sharing digital media with friends, there are so many free online services nowadays, such as WWW.myspace.com and WWW.facebook.com it's hard to know which one to recommend. However, the sites are free because they are supported by advertising. The ultimate solution is to have your own Web site. I've had this one for more than a decade, which I pay for, but there are several services that offer a free site with a bare minimum of advertising.

Microsoft Now Offering Free Web Site Services

AngelFire.com and GeoCities.com have been offering free and low cost sites for quite a while, but now Microsoft has actually rolled out a new project that's designed to help people with a small business get into the cyber world of Web site advertising. Go to Microsoft.com and look for SmallBusiness OfficeLive to sign up for the impressive array of free services and tools being offered. Yes, they are designed for business, but can also be used for a personal or family web site.

One caveat, however, when accepting free offers from Microsoft — you'll be coaxed along the way to sign up for other features you may or may not want, such as the Microsoft Toolbar for your browser, the Windows Live Messenger IM service, the Hotmail Web mail service, and something called WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage).

Personally, I prefer the Google Toolbar (Google.com), AIM IM service (AIM.com), and the Gmail Web mail service (Mail.Google.com). As for WGA, all the advantages appear to go to Microsoft. However, these Microsoft items are optional and can be easily circumvented if you are careful.

© - Donald Ray Edrington - All Rights Reserved

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