WOF: How often do you use your computer's optical drive?

By on March 4, 2011, 7:19 PM
[Weekend Open Forum] When Apple announced the first iMac in 1998 many were taken aback by the lack of a floppy disk drive. But it soon became obvious that it had been the right decision and shortly thereafter other manufacturers began to follow suit. The archaic technology was replaced by optical discs because they offered a lot more storage capacity at affordable prices.

With the proliferation of broadband connectivity and cheap USB flash drives we seem to be on the verge of another transition. The idea has been a tad slower to catch on but a few laptops have already dropped their optical drives for the sake of portability. With decent do-everything DVD burners going for less than 20 bucks and Blu-ray crossing the $100 threshold, optical discs are obviously going to live on for a while, but the truth is they are not as convenient as they used to be for consuming or transporting data and many of us rarely use them anymore.

Virtually all of my media and software today comes from online sources, and for doing backups I usually resort to an external hard drive or even the cloud. With that in mind we want to ask you: how often do you use your computer's optical drive? For those that use it regularly, what do you primarily need it for? And for those of you who don't, would you say you are ready to drop it altogether? Let us know your thoughts.

User Comments: 87

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Guest said:

Since I built my water-cooled rig two years ago, about three times. USB-booting support has made the optical drive nearly useless now. Only other time I used it was last week when I need to rip a music cd into my library.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have an old game I play occasionally that requires a disk to run- mounting an image of the disk does not work- and I rip CDs/DVDs every once and a while.

TechGreek said:

I built a new rig for my desktop and people always ask me why I don't use an Optical Drive anymore.

Answer #1) My internet is just as fast as transferring CD files.

Answer #2) I can boot off a flash drive, which, I have quite a few of them.

Answer #3) I use external drives for everything

I do have an external DVD burner for just in case moments and keep a CD case still for all of the computers that can't boot to USB.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

just to burn pictures for my grandmother who recently upgraded to a CD player....from her VHS...beta-max no less, and her Victrola.

@ Jos, you should start a "who still uses a Floppy drive ?" thread. I bet the answer is rather surprising.

Guest said:

I use it 1-3 times a month. Mainly to create CD/DVDs for various uses.

princeton princeton said:

I used it to burn a copy of "The most dangerous game" for my old teacher yesterday. The previous time was installing win7.

Lurker101 said:

Last used to install a bunch of drivers.

Still use it regularly to rip CDs and install games

Will be using it very soon to burn and install Debian 6.0

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I used it to burn a copy of "The most dangerous game" for my old teacher yesterday.

Thats not very nice at all Princeton. I'm sure he/she knows they're old...They don't need you reminding them of it!

insect said:

Very very rarely. In the future I doubt I'll have one.

Guest said:

didnĀ't use optical discs for about 5 years, usb and pxe can do everything i need...

Jurassic4096 said:

barely ever. maybe 6 discs a month, usually to DVD-RW's.

herpaderp said:

I use the ODD maybe a couple or more times a month on my own system, and for mostly non-essential tasks (music/program/image for friend who doesn't have a flash stick handy), so I wouldn't be sad to see it go. However, they are still a necessity if you do tech support since you never know how old a system someone will bring you :\

Guest said:

Not even once a month.

Guest said:

All the time. I rip blu-rays and DVDs onto my hard drive

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Whenever I reinstall windows, I've never quite figured out booting windows off a usb drive.

Guest said:

the real issue is ODD's in laptops, as there is a space constraint. only a small number of laptops overall don't have them, and those laptops are mostly netbooks/ultraportables. I'd like to see laptops as big as 15" having ODD-less options. the space in the laptop isn't worth it, as I can easily use flash drives and other mediums for the same purpose without wasting space. if I ever do need to use an ODD, I can just use an external drive. I would much rather have extra cooling, better case stability and and other options available such as a second SSD/HDD.

here's a question, if you were a laptop manufacturer, and nearly every laptop made went without ODD's, would you buck the trend and put on in your laptop? my guess is not. at this point, I think ODD's should be an accessory, not a staple.

as far as desktops go, an ODD usually isn't in the way of anything, so unless it is, may as well keep it. I still don't use mine very often, maybe once every 3 months.

mccartercar said:

What is this optical drive you speak of?

Guest said:

I rip a few CDs on average once a month. Having uncompressed WAV files is nice. I never really liked buying music digitally but have never had a problem buying physical CDs.

cyriene said:

Many times a week. With netflix I watch blu-rays on my pc. Also, my study books have cds which I use. Although I get a lot of software online I could not be without my ODD at this point in time.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I think the last time I used it was for my windows disk...

arkantos said:

I use my optical drive (dvd-rom) regularly as my cd player, I have a bunch of original music cd's and still collecting until now.

Guest said:

I don't have a TV, so my most frequent use is watching DVDs on my laptop. Ripping the DVDs would take up a lot of hard drive space for content that isn't frequently replayed (unlike music). Also, the streaming selection on Netflix is limited and some people rent DVDs from Red Box, etc.

Normally I download music from iTunes or Amazon MP3, but occasionally I buy music CDs in order to use up gift cards. Those are immediately ripped and put away.

An external optical drive would probably be fine for me, but I'd need two because I'm a college student who goes home every few weekends.

TeamworkGuy2 said:

I use it quite a bit, mostly for games. If I remember correctly, BF2 used to require a CD, before one of the patches, maybe patch 1.41 or 1.5 changed that. Spore requires a CD, so does Command and Conquer Generals, and Star Wars Battlefront.

Drive gets a little use playing DVD.

Also, I use it when I play AudioSurf to play some music CDs.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

24x7. Really. I'm running IsoPuzzle on a somewhat defective DVD of Finding Nemo. It's been running for two months or so now, and is only at about 60%. I'm curious if it'd manage to recover the data completely or not, so I let it run.

When I'm done with that I'll still use it, because I record DVR spill-off onto DVD and then rip it to PC and put in on a disk. A little backward but it's the convenient way to go.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Funny timing... a couple of weeks ago my father asked me to download some images from a CD he had on medical imaging, only to realize I never reconnected my desktop PC's DVD drive after its last upgrade a few months ago.

I had to use my laptop for grabbing the images and still haven't connected the drive, who knows when I will have to use it again, maybe a year from now.

andreasf93 said:

Very rarely. Everything now is on the internet.

Guest said:


Why don't you download this game from the internet?

I guess it will we faster :)

nismo91 said:

very rare. sometimes i don't even know if it's there.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

I use my optical drive all the time! I've pretty much everything I own on the optical format. Discs around here doesn't cost that much - $24 for 100 CD's or $36 for 100 DVD's. I lacked an Internet connection until recently - thus all my games (~70) from 2006-2011 were optical ones, none downloaded.

I also store tonnes of playbacked radio-content, in which I need more or less a library to keep track of it all, and CD's is much easier to store in a "library" than flash-drives (I think).

I even still use loads of Floppy-disks. Not 3,5'' - but 5,25''...

Nima304 said:

I haven't used my laptop's optical drive in over 3 months. Honestly, I've been waiting for the technology to die ever since I scratched my first CD until I couldn't use it anymore.

I use a flash drive to transfer files between my laptop and my server (~10 feet away). It's a lot easier to transfer files onto a flash drive than it is to burn files onto a CD. In all honesty, I've never learned a fullproof method of burning a CD, every once in a while, it writes nothing on the damn thing.

negroplasty negroplasty said:

Don't have one.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I keep just about everything backed up on DVDs, so quite a lot.

war59312 said:

I still burn movies to DVD for family every now and then. Though way less now, as in the last six months I have burned 5 or so. All movies.

A year go I burned hundreds and two years ago I was burning a few thousand a year.

Now I stream everything in HD from my computer. Was using an XboX 360 but now I use Boxee Box.

I went to using my external DVD burner 4 years ago though. None of my desktop PCs have a floppy or cd/dvd internal drive. Only my 2 year old ASUS laptop has a DVD Super drive. And probably used it twice, only to install Ubuntu.

Guest said:

Yep, me too. BDRW backups, BR & DVD & CD rip and burn. It's vital.

Guest said:

i just gave away my optical drive a month ago because i used it very rarely. all my needs are satisfied by usb drives which are very convenient and external hard drives

yowanvista yowanvista said:

Once or twice a month

Guest said:

Funny. I remember when I got my new computer back in 2002 was the first time and since then I am not using floppy. Everyone was surprised about my decision.

To be honest after I saw this question I've just realized that I havent used my optical drive in the last 3 years. Even when I installed new OS I just installed it from HDD or USB. Never backup anything to DVD because its too small and I have plenty of HDD.

The rise and fall of optical drive was much much faster than floppys.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Games are the only source that uses my drive...Make me kinda sad really when i think about it.

I'm not fully trusting with flash drives (if i wanted to hold vital data) since two of mine have been corrupted lately through "unknown" means.

akannitaoheed said:

my optical drive works only when i do a clean install of o/s and driver, nothing else needs it except reaping media files which i seldom do

Guest said:

I would like to point out that most Operating Systems are provided Via Cd or Dvd so taking out the optical drive would pose a large problem when trying to switch your os.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Still use mine a few times a week to watch a couple of movies along with a weekly backup. Most of my CD's have been converted to mp3 so it doesn't get used as often as in the past.

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

Once or twice a month if I can.

TitoBXNY TitoBXNY said:

I use it rarely these days, In fact it was unplugged since the summer. Just plugged it in because my Boot Manager got corrupt a few days ago.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

To install old games sometimes or if I buy a game in store on release day. Steam offers better updating thought - regret my non steam copy of bc2. I got some dvds from blockbusters the other month and watched them using the dvd drive. But games that require the disk are a real drag nowadays.

be_patient said:

Very very rarely. Maybe 4-5 times a month.

I still like to have an occasional back up of very important work on DVD's, generally every 3 months or so.

I certainly don't rely on my optical drive.

mrtraver said:

Maybe 2-3 times a month, mainly to load new programs or to rip CDs/DVDs. Occasionally I will burn a mixCD to listen to in the car, and backups of all my pictures are burned on DVDs. But for most games that require a disc in the drive, i've either been able to find a fix online to bypass the DRM, or I have been able to mount an image of the disc.

I actually have two drives, a DVD-ROM and a DVD burner, but seems like kind of a waste now that I think about it. On my first computer I got in 1999, I used to do a lot of copying directly from one drive to the other.

wizardB wizardB said:

Use mine at least 3 or 4 times a week but then I still use a floppy drive now and the

z0phi3l said:

Once every few months to rip a CD or two

Guest said:

only to ever install windows, and thats it.

Guest said:

I use it all the time when needing to send large photoshoots to customers with picture files being 24mb a piece and 400mb Tiffs most. It is still the cheapest process for this and my client base and models. Other than that I don't use it at all.

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