Backup using CD or DVD media?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Alfredo "Mexican55" writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I just finished reading yesterday's newsletter regarding DVD-R and DVD+R media. My question is related and pertains to file backup. In your opinion, what approach should I use to backing up my files, programs, etc? And do you recommend saving to CD or DVD media? My hard drive is less than 10 gigabytes in size. "

My response:

Deciding which media type is suitable for backup depends on how much information you want to archive, and the type of backup solution you choose. Having said that, I'd like to provide a generic approach to answering this question so that anyone can apply a solution using the information below.

RE: Comparing the size of CD to DVD media

A single CD holds 700 megabytes of information, whereas a single-layer DVD disc can store 4.7 GB (~4,700 megabytes) of data -- roughly 6.71 times more than a CD. Similarly, dual-layer DVD media (one of the newest DVD technologies) can hold 9.5 GB of information (or 13.43 times more information than CD media).

RE: Comparing the cost of CD and DVD media

DVD dual layer (DVD-DL) media is terribly expensive right now, but the price will drop in the future as it becomes more mainstream. On the other hand: single layer DVD media (+R or -R) is relatively dirt cheap right now because it is already being replaced by dual layer technology. CD Recordable media has been around for many years and is even cheaper than DVD media (in almost all cases).

It's also worth noting that DVD Recorder drives (single / dual layer) are not much more expensive than CD recorder drives, and can record both DVD and CD media.

RE: Comparing Backup solutions: Disk Image vs File-By-File method

If you're looking for the ultimate backup solution that backs up *everything* without the need to specify which files to backup (including the operating system), you need a disk imaging solution. Obviously if your hard drive is large in size you will definitely want to burn your discs to DVD media as you won't need as many discs to create the backup (compared to CD). Acronis True Image is a favorite disk imaging solution and I've already written a review on it in the newsletter:

Disk Imaging Basics

If you're looking to backup simple files (documents, pictures, etc) then regular file backup would be fine. Because this method leaves it up to the user to decide which files to back up, the amount of media required for the backup will be much less compared to a full system backup; therefore, CD Recordable media (in most cases) should be suitable for this solution.

Winbackup (also reviewed in the newsletter) is a great file-by-file backup solution because -- in addition to personal file backup -- Winbackup can also export important system files with a single click (such as Internet Explorer bookmarks, the registry, Outlook emails, and more). You can find the review on Winbackup here:

WinBackup Review

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