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Home PC Cost Comparison, DVD vs. USB Flash Drive

Cost Comparison, DVD vs. USB Flash Drive

USB sticks are hitting rock bottom prices these days. A 16GB stick is now under $30. And 8GB sizes are easily available for under $15.

However this is nowhere near as cost effective as burning DVDs. In fact it’s not even close.

image The 16GB stick is $30. Put into cost per gigabyte, each gig costs $1.88.

A 100-pack spindle of Maxell (a mid-grade brand) 16x DVD-Rs at Wal-Mart costs about $25 for +R or -R, tax included. That’s 470GB worth of storage, and translates to about 5¢ per GB.

Big difference.

DVD’s biggest advantage is cost; it’s the cheapest way to store data. I don’t know of any other media that’s as cost effective.

However the single largest drawback of optical media is its life span. Premium optical media is supposed to last 10 years, but few of us (including myself) don’t buy premium grade. We buy whatever is on the shelf that’s immediately available. The life of the disc gets knocked down quite a bit with mid-grade brands. At best you might get 5 years out of it. Some are lucky and get more, but most of us don’t.

My suggestion to anyone who backs up routinely (which you all should do): For the time being, go optical because there’s nothing cheaper. Buy yourself a 100-pack, crank up your DVD burner and burn away. When Flash drives drop below 25 cents per GB (meaning a 16GB stick would cost under $5), move your data over.

Given the way Flash media price is dropping like a brick, the 25-cent-per-GB mark should occur well before the life span of your optical media is up.

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3 thoughts on “Cost Comparison, DVD vs. USB Flash Drive”

Katie says:
Yes I agree DVD’s are cheaper but sometimes not real reliable. I have seen them turn into nice coasters while I make frisbies out of them cause my backup for whatever reason is gone or the disk can’t be read. I did buy a small external USB drive that is very portable and reliable but not cost effective. I suppose it’s a matter of preference but I’d rather be safe then sorry. BTW nice articles on this website.
Branded Flash Drives says:
Another interesting article from your blog :) When will it stop….hopefully never
Cory says:
If you’re talking backups, yes, DVDs are the cheapest way to go for permanent storage of data. Online storage is a better option for those that wish to have their backups off-site or easily accessible while away from home. What is it that needs backing up? Documents can be backed up via email, pictures by websites like flickr. Home videos I can see backing up on DVD, but one tragic house fire, tho rare, and they are gone. Maybe a full computer image backup? OK, DVDs are the cheap way to go, but I still say online is better.

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Apr 17, 2009

643 Articles Published