Compatibility problems plague DVD

With drive prices less than $500 and capacities in the gigabytes, DVD is a tempting backup medium for small networks and individual client systems.

But DVD has a major problem: incompatibility.

DVD recording technology is in its infancy with DVD+R and DVD+RW standards competing with the older DVD-R and DVD-RW drives. Compatibility is far from assured even using the original standards.

There are few things more dispiriting than discovering your backup media won't work in a new drive. Some tests have shown that 25 percent or more of CD-RW and CD+RW disks are unreadable in other drives. Pioneer Electronics Inc., a maker of DVD media, released tests (www.pioneerelectronics.com/Pioneer/CDA/CompanyOverview/PressDetails/0,1479,92226,00.html) showing compatibility rates below 80 percent for DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW.

While DVD is perfect for training or data distribution, it's not ready for critical backup tasks because of the continuing compatibility problems between brands of media, hardware and even authoring software. Just last summer Hewlett-Packard Co. was forced to offer trade-in rebates to early adopters of the company's DVD+RW drives.

Consider limitations

If you use DVD for backup, be sure your software supports your particular drive.

But remember, even DVD capacity isn't enough to back up most of today's hard drives, and large systems will need to record to multiple DVD drives. DVD hardware is more consumer-oriented and not usually built for mission-critical tasks.

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