4 min read

WD MyBook Essential 1TB first impressions and the reasons why CDs and DVDs suck.

It finally arrived, day earlier than expected, my new external HDD.

First of all I was surprised how light it actually felt. Sure one kilo doesn't seem like much, but it was just simply lighter than I imagined. It was also a bit smaller than I imagined and above all SLEEEEEEK!!!! :> I was very happy to unpack it and set it on my desk.

There were a few minor unpleasant surprises. Firstly, the adapter had an European plug (which I don't really mind because I travel a lot and intend to move back to the continent soon) and so pixmania staff popped in a plug changer with it - which didn't work. Thankfully I had one of my own so it wasn't a problem. Secondly, when I did plug it in I discovered that there is additional partition for a "virtual CD". That pissed me off slightly as there is no way of getting rid of it at all - whatever happened to actual CD's and letting users do with the drive space what they want? I managed to stop it from appearing on the drive list but that was, I thought, distasteful. Now the third and final mild annoyance was that the drive has actual useful storage area of 930 GB not a full 1TB (could it be because of the godforsaken virtual cd?) which dampened my excitement a little, not that I would get to fill it up any time soon, but I just wanted to see 1 TB. Oh well.

Still, after a few hours of de-cluttering on my hard drive and copying all my CDs and DVDs so I can finally get rid of them how do I feel? I feel as if I spent a year in a Ryanair seat and now I can finally stretch! OH WOW.

Now a note with regards to CDs and DVD's and why they suck I don't like them.

As I mentioned before I have hundreds of CDs and DVDs lying around. I have them well organised but they take about twenty times more space than the new MyBook that I got today and they cumulated would only require somewhere around 200GB to 250GB of space, so a quarter of what MyBook offers. I wouldn't mind that, my apartment is large, but it makes it difficult to find just the file I'm looking for and it is another box that I need to pack and remember about when moving house.

I've been living in Ireland for the last five years and during that time I accumulated some CDs and DVDs, but I came here with some valuable ones as well. The CDs that I brought here were packed on a CD splice in my main luggage, out of them only a half survived the first year and the other half is mostly unreadable now. I don't know if it is the temperature changes or the air pressure caused by altitude but transporting CDs in the baggage part of the aircraft is a recipe for disaster. Currently my collection of CDs exceeds the cabin luggage allowance so I would not be able to safely transport it to the continent in any other way but be the car and ferry. MyBook on the other hand will fit in my bag snugly beside my laptop.

A 100 of quality blank CDs on a spindle can set you back €30, a third of the cost of 1Tb WD MyBook, and would take twice as much space while holding on average just under 7GB. A 100 DVD's would hold about 400GB but take same amount of space as CDs and set you back about €45, and it's still nothing in comparison to MyBook's size and capacity for it's price.

A small scratch can render a CD unreadable, and many of mine now are, after just two/three years. I found that about a third of my disks are scratched to the point that I can't easily access the data if I can access it at all. Now, there are methods and tools for restoring the data that you had on your CD or DVD, that I find are successful in about 1/3 of all cases that I came up against; this means that out of all the disks I wrote in the last five years about 2 out of 9 or approximately 22% went straight to the bin (or have been reused as coasters) and I will never see the data written on them again.

Doesn't that scare you?

Now, physical size, capacity and  reliability aside, we were all along discussing normal DVD-R and CD-R. Rewritable are much more expensive and I don't know many people who use them, so on top of all the ohnoes that come with CDs and DVDs you will only write them once and use them for a limited amount of time until they deteriorate beyond repair.

I dream of a world where there are no more useless CDs and DVDs. I dream of the time when all the software packages and all the magazine add-ons will come on small cheap USB drives, nice and slim like these little beasts:
Verbatim's Tuff'n'Tiny
Lacie's Iamakey
Super Talent's Pico

It does cost more than CDs but they will get cheaper and cheaper as the time goes... and can you put a price on the data you lost?

So at the end of the day at least my world will become a little closer to the CD free utopia that I'm dreaming of - I'm tossing 50 disks today!