Practical help from Nicholas Hellmuth, who has years of experience in testing digital storage devices.

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Which storage is best, what is DVD-RAM and why not DVD-ROM? How about CD-R or is CD-RW better?

First thing is to get rid of all your legacy storage such as Zip, Jaz, and Pinnacle Micro Apex disks, as well as all those old 230 MB MO optical disks. Why? Although the disks may last for several decades the drives (and drivers) won't. The next generation of computers may not be able to play such antiquated disks (look what happened to the 5 1/4 inch floppy disks).

2nd, use a CD burner to send files to other people. Don't waste money with a Zip. With a 12x or at least an 8x CD-R burner with the new Toast software you can burn a CD in about 15 minutes; a CD disk costs only about $1. Actually the newest 12x CD-R burners also include a CD-RW burner in the same unit (burns CD-RWs at perhaps 4x). So if you have an old CD burner that takes 20 minutes (4x CD-R) then it is time to give that to your kids or donate it to charity and buy a faster one. Don't worry if you can't find a 12x burner; 8x are plenty fast.

See if you can find the new 800 MB CD-R disks (careful, most are for audio; you want them for holding digital photographs). The 800 MB CD-R disks replace the normal 650 MB disks. I have burned generic Maxell CD disks (on bulk spindles) at 8x burn speed and rarely get a failure. If you burn at 12x, test a few disks first to make sure these disks can handle 12x burn speed before you buy an entire spindle of 100 bulk disks. 12x speed burners with 12x certified media work just fine, but if you are cheap like I am you want to use the less costly generic CD disks.

3rd, start getting used to DVD-RAM, the international standard now for several years. Why DVD-RAM and not DVD-ROM? Because a DVD-ROM burner costs over $5,000 whereas you can buy a DVD-RAM burner for $700 or less.

Current generation of DVD-RAM holds 5.2 GB (2.6 GB per side). DVD-RAM player/burners are readily available. These are based on PD technology which was perfected over several years, which means that DVD-RAM have a reliable history behind them. The next generation of DVD-RAM will bold over 9 GB (half on each side).

Several IBM disks we had did not function out of the box; our RAID system of Seagate Cheetah disks failed repeatedly causing considerable data loss. For these reasons we now use, and recommend, Quantum drives. Colleagues have found that Quantum drives actually move data faster than IBM drives, even when the IBM claim faster speed. Nonetheless Seagate is a known name and surely most of their drives work just fine. They have a 5 year warranty so if a Seagate Cheetah satisfies the power user in your inner soul, then Seagate is the way to go.

Where is a reliable place to buy reliable storage equipment?
You can get Quantum drives in many sizes and forms at MegaHaus. You can get DVD-RAM, CD-R, CD-RW (and multi-mode drives with both CD-R plus CD-RW all in one unit) at MegaHaus.

Prices at MegaHaus are more reasonable than elsewhere. MegaHaus has been around for years and is a place you can get the storage devices that you need for your solution. Whether you need just one extra hard disk or an entire RAID system, MegaHaus can provide exactly what you want.

The Japanese Ministry of Education provided a substantial grant for Dr Hellmuth to come to Japan and work out the best digital imaging solution for Japan's National Museum of Ethnology. As Visiting Professor in Osaka Hellmuth worked for 6 months to find the best solution.

Simultaneously Nicholas's institute, the FLAAR Photo Archive, received a grant of $100,000 from an American foundation for a feasibility study to work out how best to transform a photography archive of slides and negatives into digital media.

Since then Professor Hellmuth has attended the leading computer trade shows in America (Comdex) and the even larger computer trade shows in Germany (CeBIT) as well as the digital printing and photography trade shows (PMA, DRUPA, and Photokina).

So if you need to figure out what computer storage to use for your digital images, you can take advantage of Nicholas's experiences (and save yourself from having to spend 4 years and a quarter of a million dollars of research).

View of Pinnacle Micro Apex disks in action in the FLAAR Digital Imaging Technology Center gateway to future reviews of CD-R and related equipment (in development). DVD-RAM gateway of links, tips, information

what is a Snap RAID server? print your personal logo or artwork on the CD's you burn lots of links to information on desktop publishing hardware/software,

Links added Mar. 2002, Redesigned January 2004

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