12 February 2019

The Death of the Optical Drive and Why You Still Might Want One

Remember the days of floppy discs in your big ol’ desktop computer? Children these days will never know the joy of putting one into the little slot and waiting for it to load, hoping that you haven't switched it across to write-protected. When floppy discs disappeared from our lives, they were replaced by CDs and DVDs. We would spend hours downloading tunes (sometimes illegally!) off the internet while hoping your parents didn’t use the phone line because that would cut off the often temperamental dial-up connection. We would then ‘burn’ them onto CD’s, with titles such as ‘Carl’s Tunez 2002’. If you weren't into the downloading music thing, you might have spent hours loading your holiday photos on a DVD for a slideshow for your grandparents.

Well, sadly, youngsters these days are going to be missing out on that joy. Who even uses discs for anything anymore? With Netflix and Amazon Prime giving us all the movies we could want, we barely buy DVD’s anymore, and most music is bought and listened to digitally, through apps such as iTunes or Spotify. Ask around - does anyone ever stick a CD on anymore?

The death of the disc has also brought about the death of something else - the optical drive on your standard laptop. These, if you didn’t know, are the little drawers that pop out of the side (well, used to pop out of the side!) of your computer ready to hold a DVD or CD. However, in recent years, the majority of computer manufacturers have stopped putting them on. There just isn't the demand for them anymore and they add extra, and in some people’s eyes, unwanted bulk to the machine.

This does lead to a few problems though. What do we do if we want to access older material saved to these types of discs, or if we receive a CD as a gift and want to convert it to MP3?  There is still software floating around that requires them for an emergency reboot. There is definitely still a market out there for optical drives in computers.
Thankfully, pc-tablet.com has compiled a list of laptop computers that still have a CD or DVD drive.

If you already have purchased your laptop and it isn’t one of the ones on the list, fear not as there are still ways to access the media. You can buy external optical drives for a relatively low price. Okay, so they aren’t as convenient as having them built into your laptop and might be unwieldy to transport, but at least you can still get at the material, hey?

One other thing to consider if you purchase one of the many laptops without an optical drive is that, unless you use an external hard drive or store stuff on a cloud system such as Dropbox, you are forcing all of your data to be stored on your hard drive. This takes up a lot of memory and can affect the speed of your computer.

We would love to know your thoughts on this? Would you prefer to have an optical drive included in your build or do you prefer to keep it simple?


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