In the past, technologies disappeared gradually. Vinyl records, cassette tapes, floppy disks and video tapes are gone. Now came the end of the optical disc. The first audio compact disc arrived for me sometime in 1990 and by 1992 the data disc found its way into the personal computer. SInce then optical drives quickly became the medium of choice through their reliability and vast capacity. For quite some time, the optical disc also kept innovating: becoming faster, writeable and increasingly expanding capacity to DVD, double-layer DVD and finally to BluRay. But in past years, innovation halted and optical discs became to slow, to small, to noisy, to energy-wasting and to cumbersome to handle.

weight’s less then 12 optical discs: Freecom’s 1TB mobile USB drive stores up to 200 DVD’s or 20 BluRay discs

With the first 2.5 inch terrabyte drive available, I finally switched to a portable USB harddisk. All the CD and DVD’s I collected over time are just wasting space.

While the latest BluRay drives may have room for up to 50GB, the time it takes to write them is a hassle, not to mention their price.

Today, file sizes are easily exceeding the 4 or 8 GB barrier for standard DVD’s, so moving all data to a external HDD is the next logical choice. For ultra-portability, even Flash drives now match optical drives in storage size, while beating them in speed several times over.

There is not even a need to keep old movie DVD and music CD’s. Home theater systems and stereo components are now capable of dealing with files. Keeping a CD is only for nostalgic reasons, such as keeping a cassette or video tape to show children how we consumed culture before the age of the network. Who remembers vinyl records spinning slowly at 33 and 45 rpm? There are 2 points in optical media that might help them to survive for a while longer. First, its the “read-only” feature. Even with re-writeable discs, overwriting data required deliberate action and safely prevented data loss. Second, its the proven ability to store data for decades when handled with care. For me however, the optical drive died today. May it rest in peace.