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It depends on how long you want to keep them. If you're simply combining out of convenience either will probably do.

I'm cleaning up old files that are on different flash drives and CDs and I would like to combine them all in one place. Is it better to put them on a CD/DVD or simply put them all on a larger flash drive?

In this excerpt from Answercast #59, I look at issues around reorganizing old files and storing them for the future.

Cleaning old files

I'll start by giving you my most common answer, "It depends."

It depends on how long you want to keep them, what you're going to be using them for, and so forth. If you're simply combining out of convenience, to be honest either will probably do.

Drive quality matters

You'll be able to get a flash drive that's going to be much larger than any CD or DVD that you can get these days. So I'd be tempted to go with a good quality flash drive to make sure that everything's not going to fade away over time; since flash memory does wear out the more you write to it.

Now, I don't know how often you're going to be writing to this thing. And of course, I have to insist that regardless of what you put it on, you make sure you back it up.

Keep backups

No matter what media you put it on (CDs, DVDs, flash drives or even external hard drives), eventually something can go wrong. CD and DVD material does wear out, flash drives wear out as I already mentioned, and even external hard drives can at some point, fail.

Convenience matters

So, the most important thing is to find what's the most convenient for you. These days, I'd probably lean towards something connected via USB, so that it is more portable to more different computers, since we're finding more and more computers that don't even have CD and DVD drives.

Pick what's appropriate. Pick what's convenient for you.

Like I said, I'd be tempted to go with a USB drive just because they're small and convenient and easy to deal with. If you've got a lot of data, I'd actually be tempted to go to an external hard drive. Those are going to be physically a little bit bigger as well and that's something that may not work for you. I really don't know.

But in all cases regardless of what you choose - back it up.

Article C5889 - October 6, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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3 Comments
Robin Clay
October 9, 2012 3:21 PM

Maybe it's appropriate to point out that a CD/DVD may have a life of less than 5 years (you did say use a good quality one). In five years time, your new computer may come without a CD/DVD reader - they don't come with floppy drives any more, remember.

A Richter
October 11, 2012 10:13 AM

I should stay away from thumb drives, regardless of brand "quality"; they are only good for transfers of data from one device to another. SD cards (inserted into a USB card reader, and nothing but), that is another story, especially when the number of write cycles is not excessive. However, each will only take 2GB at most. The much more capacious SDHC cards have not yet been sufficiently tested over time.

External HDs seem to have a higher rate of failure due to knocks and bruises, so they could be considered risky for storage. DVDs would still come out best: their capacity is not that great (under 5GB), but what is wrong with putting your eggs in more baskets? If one breaks, you still have all the others. By consensus, there is Taiyo Yuden at the top of the heap, although some would prefer Kodak.

A Richter
October 11, 2012 12:31 PM

By sheer coincidence: http://www.pcmech.com/article/how-to-move-data-off-cds-and-dvds-in-the-most-convenient-way/

Mark the "bit rot" part: It somewhat drills a hole in my DVD thesis, albeit a small one.

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