Compared to floppy drives and some removable drives, CD-RW drives and their cousins, DVD+RW/-RW drives, can store large amounts of data and are useful for a home or small business. Once very expensive, CD writers and media are at commodity prices today, although automated CD changing machines, necessary for automatically backing up large amounts of data, are still quite costly. A benefit of CD and DVD storage over tape devices is that the archived uncompressed file system can be mounted and its files accessed randomly just like a hard drive (you do this when you create a data CD, refer to Chapter 10, "Multimedia Applications"), making the recovery of individual files easier.
Each CD-RW disk can hold 650MB700MB of data (the media comes in both capacities at roughly the same cost); larger chunks of data can be split to fit on multiple disks. Some backup programs support this method of storage. Once burned and verified, the shelf life for the media is at least a decade or longer. Prices increase with writing speed, but a serviceable CD-RW drive can be purchased for less than $100.
DVD+RW/-RW is similar to CD-RW, but it is more expensive and can store up to 8GB of uncompressed data per disk. These drives are selling for less than $100. Writing to DVD drives requires special software, and, unfortunately, Linux development is somewhat behind the curve for DVD writing. Ubuntu does provide the latest software to write to DVD+RW drives. (DVD-RW support is still experimental.)
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