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What are optical disks, and what do they have to do with digital video?

Optical disks are a storage method for data that is written by lasers.Optical disks are actually read by light and written by light.Optical disks save data from computers much like a floppy disk might, but with more power.Optical disks can store up to 6 gigabytes (the equivalent of 6 million bytes).That is much more than the previous methods of magnetic media.There are three main types of optical disks.

CD-ROM - Like audio CDs, CD-ROMs come with data already encoded onto them. The data is permanent and can be read any number of times.One aspect that could be considered a disadvantage is that CD-ROMs cannot be modified.

WORM - WORM stands for "write-once, read-many". With a WORM disk drive, you can write data onto a WORM disk, but only once. After that, the WORM disk behaves just like a CD-ROM, unable to be altered.

Erasable - This type of optical disks can be erased and loaded with new data.They operate similarly to magnetic disks. These optical disks are also referred to as EO (erasable optical) disks.

These three types of optical disks are not compatible with each other.This means that each type of optical disk requires its own disk drive.CD-ROMs are more of the standard than the other two so you will find more systems able to read that type of disk versus the other two.

Of course there are many more types of optical disks that were not listed here.For example, there are recordable disks that can receive new information in a form that is called "rewritable."These disks are called CR-RW, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW and MO disks.Rewritable disks use either magneto-optic (MO) or phase change technology. MO disks are commonly found in settings such as a library because of the need to hold a great deal of information and the frequent use of holding multiple cartridges.For these storage reasons magneto-optic disks are extremely tough.Phase change disks (CD-RW, DVD-RAM, etc.) are lower cost consumer-oriented products.DVD-RAM is expected to become the most popular or most frequently used of the phase change disk varieties.

Optical disks have some definite advantages over magnetic disks. Optical disks have higher flexibility of use, meaning that they can be moved from one location to another.As they pertain to digital video, this means that you are free to transport your video without worry of damaging or corrupting the magnetic fields.Such concerns are very real when transporting a non-optical disk such as a "floppy" disk.

Optical disks are ideal for long tern storage of your digital videos as well.Many people film their family videos and nostalgic moments on the digital camera because the digital optical disks can better withstand the test of time. Optical disks are said to be able to have a 30-year shelf life and are far less vulnerable to extremes of hot and cold when they are compared to other storage methods.

Optical disks can hold more information in a smaller amount of space and therefore are more appropriate for being edited as many digital videos are.When you are making a decision about how you will store and save irreplaceable memories, wouldn't you want to make sure that your disks were going to last as long as possible and be free from the typical elements that might endanger their safety?Of course you would want to choose the best option for preserving your memories.As of this point in time optical disks provide the best readily accessible option for digital video users.But who knows, sometime in the future someone may come up with an even better system for digital storage and then we would have to again reconsider the best method for our video storage.

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