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Beginners Guide to Physically Shipping Your Own CD

April 3rd, 2018

The following is an article written by one of our customers.

It gives an overview of a band looking at the different ways of  selling their cd’s to fans, outside of selling them at gigs.

Read the original article here: http://blog.samrussell.co.uk/physically-ship-cd/

Getting started releasing my own music was a learning curve. Not only did I have to write all the music (which was fun!), but I had to look at everything that a record label traditionally does, and take figure out how to implement it myself. One aspect was figuring out how to ship a CD. I looked over the different options and figured out a solution that works for me.

I’ll give you a quick overview of those options and why I chose the method that I did.

Options for shipping a CD

There are three options available to you:

  • Drop shipping
  • Third party fulfilment
  • Self-fulfilment

I’ll quickly outline what these different options are:

Drop shipping

Drop shipping is when a third party company creates and ships a product on a per order basis. For example, let’s say Fred buys your record. Your drop shipping company will print a record just for Fred, and ship it to him.

Drop Shipping Pros

  • You have to do almost nothing
  • Everything is automated
  • Low upfront costs

Drop Shipping Cons

  • Per unit cost is expensive, so you make less profit per sale

Duplication Centre addition: Our sister company can offer this service, please visit www.thedigitalpublishingcenter.com for more information.

Self fulfilment

This is when you take care of every aspect of order fulfilment yourself. Your turn your office / bedroom / house into a warehouse to store and ship your records / merchandise. If you choose to do self-fulfilment, then you need to consider:

  • Online purchasing system / storefront
  • Product manufacture
  • Packaging
  • Posting
  • Upfront costs

So as you can see, there is already a lot for you to consider.

Online purchasing system

How are your users going to buy your CD online? You could use third party solutions such as Bandcamp or Shopify; or you could use a solution which integrates with your own website, such as Woo Commerce. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation and what you want to achieve. I’ll write an article in the future about these options. I’ve tried Woo Commerce and Shopify myself, and personally, I prefer Shopify.

Product manufacture

You need to find a company that will physically create a CD for you. When it comes to CDs, you have two options:

  • Duplication
  • Replication

Duplication is for small jobs (usually up to 1000 copies). This is the same process as you would use to ‘burn’ a CD on your home computer, on a more industrial scale. Duplication also has a fast turn around time.

Replication is for bigger jobs (500 units upwards) and while it has a higher setup cost than duplication, at higher volume it is cheaper. Replication involves creating a glass ‘master’ disc and then physically stamping blank CD. It takes longer than duplication.Please see our sister company  www.replicationcentre.co.uk  for more information on this.

The best company I have found in the UK for duplication is The Duplication Centre. They usually ship my order within a couple of days and they give things a once over to make sure the order is ok. They also keep your order on file, making it really fast and easy to get a second printing done. If you sign up to their mailing list, they usually send out some special offers for free extra units every few months.

If you are in the UK, they are highly recommended and you can check them out here. Check them for yourselves – their policy or approach may have changed since writing this article.

Packaging

How are you going to post your CD? You need some sort of packaging. You want to balance having something low cost, with having something that can protect your product – if your CD turns up smashed, scratched or damaged; even if it isn’t your fault, your fans will be pissed off.

The best packaging solution I found are card wallets from lil packaging. They are durable, protect from light impact, scratches and drops. They also ‘expand’, so you can put a thin card wallet promo CD in, and have a slim package; or you can put a full size jewel case in there and the card wallet will ‘expand’ a bit. Check out the photos.

Finally, they are pretty cheap per unit, and the price per unit crashes with scale. Check out low cost durable packaging for your CD here. Price per unit is anywhere from 30p/unit to <1p/unit depending on the quantity purchased.

Here are some photos of what the CD mailers look like (got a big box of 150 I think it was, to hit the price break and get a cheaper per unit price):

 Posting

There are a few options for this. For most people getting started, taking a bag of packaged CDs down to the local post office is probably the best solution. Get yourself a sharpie and write the addresses on the front of your card wallets by hand. You will want to check postage rates so you don’t get any nasty surprises and set up your shipping on your website / online store appropriately.

A great way to check the weight of your item is to grab a cheap set of digital weight scales that are accurate to roughly 2g (and if you use imperial will switch to ounces). Then you can accurately measure the weight of your CD / merch and make sure you don’t get any surprises at the Post Office.

Upfront costs

As you might have noticed, one aspect of self fulfilment is that, when compared to drop shipping, there are upfront costs to handle. Rather than having a CD made per order, you now have to buy 20-100 units at a time and the packaging to go with them… and your sharpie. So you start to need a bit of capital. However, you will find that your profit margin is much, much higher per unit, than drop shopping.

You should be able to get the CDs created and packaging for less than £3 per unit, so if you are selling your CD for £10-£15, that is a profit per unit of £7-£12.

Self fulfilment pros

  • More profit per unit – this is a LOT cheaper than drop shipping, so for a given product price, you will make much more money
  • You can customise the user experience more
  • Better control over data

Self fulfilment cons

  • Your house turns into a warehouse
  • You have to do more planning, to source your products and packaging.
  • You have to pay a lot more upfront

Self fulfilment conclusion

While it is a bit more work, this is probably the best way for most musicians getting started to go. The work involved is not really that much at all, and you make more money per sale.

Third party fulfilment

Third party fulfilment involves setting up your own supply chain. This is similar to taking self fulfilment, and taking it to the next level, turning it into a miniature business. You take your manufacturer and you connect them to a shipping company, or, you take self fulfilment and you pay someone to run it for you. Paying someone to run your self sfulfilment is pretty simple so I’ll give you a quick overview of third party fulfilment using an external company.

Orders come through from your website and are automatically sent to your shipping company. The manufacture(s) ship directly to your shipping company, who put your items into warehousing. Shipping company takes incoming website orders, takes the appropriate items from the warehouse and boxes them up (this is referred to as “pick and pack”) and ships to the consumer. They sometimes have in house packaging solutions, so you don’t have to worry about that either.

A third party fulfilment will typically charge you a warehousing fee and a ‘pick and pack’ fee.

Third party fulfilment pros

  • If you have the order volume, you can scale to huge levels
  • You still keep a high profit margin per item
  • Automated, so you have very little to do. Shipping 10,000 units per month with this method will be less work than shipping 100 units a month with self fulfilment.
  • Postage is cheaper. The shipping company gets preferential shipping rates that are much cheaper than you can get at a Post Office, due to the volume they do.

Third party fulfilment cons

  • You have to be highly organised with stock management
  • You have a lot of costs to organise and figure out
  • You have to organise two companies to work together
  • You have to integrate your order platform with the shipping company
  • You need to be shipping a high volume of products to make this worthwhile

Conclusion

I would have thought for most independent musicians (if you have a record label, all this is taken care of for you), starting with a self fulfilment model and then ‘graduating’ to a third party fulfilment model will work best for you. I’m still in the self fulfilment phase.

Recommended Companies

This is a quick round up of the companies I’ve used that offer a great service with a great price (that are UK based):

lil packaging

These guys offer solutions for all your packaging problems, not just CDs! They do boxes for shipping your merch, boxes for books, boxes for this and that. They got you covered. A vital company for any band (or individual, small business) shipping their own products. Check them out

Duplication Centre

Whether you want card wallet CDs, digipaks, jewel case CDs, these guys have you covered. Their website looks a little bit old school… but it works. You can get a fully customised quote in minutes. Price per unit decreases with order volume which is nice. Check them out

The Blu-Ray

March 15th, 2018

The Blu-ray Disc founder group was started in 2002 by MIT and nine leading Electronics Companies: Sony, Panasonic, Pioneer, Phillips, Thomson, LG Electronics, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung Electronics.

 

The name is taken from the blue laser that is used to read from and record to a Blu ray disc, the blue laser allows for a much higher density and hence a larger storage capacity and so the Blu-Ray disc is a digital optical disc data storage format.

It was designed to supersede the DVD format, and is capable of storing several hours of video in high definition (HDTV 720p & 1080p) and Ultra High Definition Resolution (2160p).

Although the Blu-Ray disc looks exactly the same as a DVD in size and shape there are many differences between media including storage capacity,laser technology and disc construction,image resolution and player compatibility.

The Blu-Rays storage capacity is measured in gigabytes (GB), like computers and ipods.

Storage Comparison:

DVD Single Layer: Can store about 4.7GB data which is about two hours worth of movie at Standard Definition…these are commonly referred to as DVD 5’s.

DVD Dual Layer: Can store twice the amount of data at 8.7 GB which equals about four hours of movie at Standard Definition ….these are commonly referred to as DVD 9 ‘s.

Blu-Ray Single layer: Can store approximately 25Gb data, this equals about 2 hours of High Definition Information or 13 hours of Standard Definition Information.

Dual Layer Blu-Ray :can store about 50GB data which is about 4 hours of High Definition Information or 26 hours of Standard Definition.

Laser Technology

Lasers are used in both DVD and Blu-ray technology .As the disc spins the laser reads the information stored on the discs and transfers both the picture and the sound to the television.

DVD: DVD players use a red laser at 650nm wave length to read DVD discs

Blu-Ray : Blu-Ray players use a Blue laser to read the stored information; the wave lenghts are shorter than the red at 405nm and are smaller in diameter, this allows for a closer and more precise reading of the information on the disc.

Disc Construction:

Physically DVD and Blu-Ray discs are the same in appearance:both have circular tracks on their bottom layer that enables the laser to read information stored on the spinning disc.

The tracks on a DVD are much further apart than on the Blu-Ray; you will see that it follows from this that the amount of information that can be stored on each type of disc is different; the Blu-Ray having the far greater storage capacity.In short a Blu-ray can squeeze about 5 times as many tracks onto the same size disc as a DVD.

Both DVD and Blu-Ray have a protective layer designed to resist scratching; the Blu-Ray in addition has a hard coating that makes it more scratch resistant.

Image Resolution

This is measured by the number of vertical lines times the number of horizontal lines of light in a picture.It is represented by the number of horizontal lines going across the screen like 480, 720 or 1080.The higher the number, the higher the resolution the more detailed the picture you see.

DVD: Almost all DVD’s have standard definition of 480 or enhanced definition of 520.This look ok on a standard television,utilising all the available pixels on the screen. If however this is blown up to a large HDTV the picture may look grainy.

Blu-Ray: The Blu-Ray was designed for the high definition 1080 display….since they can store 25 GB data you can fit a whole High Definition movie on a single layer. Blu-Ray currently has the best image resolution on the market and looks amazing on HDTV, they are one of the only sources that display in 1080.

Player Compatibility:

Happily Blu-ray Players support DVD’s and the image will be decent but obviously not the high definition quality of a Blu-ray.

Due to the  larger lasers used in DVD players they it cannot read the tiny grooves on a Blu-ray disc.

In short you can play a DVD in a Blu-ray player but you cannot play a Blu-ray in a DVD player.

 

Lastly and very importantly Blu-Ray can handle 4K (Ultra HD)...we don’t need an new type of disc for our new TV’s; you can have it all with the Blu-Ray !

The CD Is Still Going Strong

March 6th, 2018

Even in this age of digital streaming the CD still has value in the music industry.

Listeners, especially those of the younger generation understandably turn to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

The outlook for the  humble CD from some perspectives in the music industry may look a little dreary but the reality for many bands and music artists is that they aren’t seeing a slow down in CD sales at all.

Artists still want to offer something tangible to offer their fans.

Time and time again we hear from bands that the Merchandise table is an increasing and valuable source of revenue.

It is true, music lovers always want to buy something to take home with them, whether it be a CD or a T Shirt…they are affordable, and a link to the music they love.

Again the recent resurgence in Vinyl is testament to this, and artists who stock both CD and Vinyl on their Merchandise table have seen that while the vinyl did well, the CD’s sold out quicker; particularly older catalogues. An understandable outcome as Cd’s are easier to produce and cheaper to buy, also more profitable  to sell than Vinyl….they also sound objectively better!

It would also appear from recent research that certain genres of music are more CD bias in their demand than others: these being, Indie, Jazz,Gospel,Classical ,Children’s and Seasonal (like Christmas Music).

All this points towards the music industry having room for all mediums of technology,Vinyl,CD and Digital .

Our consumer driven society dictates that we have right to demand that music is made available to us in every way that it can be. While there will always be many digital only albums almost all commercial releases continue to be available on CD also.

The CD’s resilience has been aided on a practical level by the process of Duplication which involves the burning of audio directly into ready made discs.

Duplication of runs of as little of 50 units enable the artist to go directly online and within hours upload audio and art and have the final product within days. Many also opt to have the product shipped directly to gigs as they travel, giving the ability to bump stock if needed and avoiding carrying weighty product with them.

The CD is still going strong!

Want more facts and figures, take a look here: www.fastcompany.com (the cd business isn’t dying)

 

The Fight Against Illegal Pirate Videos and Music

August 16th, 2017

Pirate CDs - bad for business!

In today’s society everything is done by internet: Emails whizz from company to client, children do their homework via the web, people illegally download music and video from the internet… This last, the pirating of music and film, is becoming an ever-growing problem in our technological world. But it doesn’t just occur on the internet: Pirated discs can be bought as well! But what effect is this having on our music and film industries and is it such a big problem that we need to worry about its effect on the CD and DVD manufacturing world?

The answer, unfortunately, is yes! We do need to worry about it: The music and film industry is an expensive business to run: With hiring actors and musicians, studio fees, pre- and post-production costs, disc duplication, advertising and distribution of the product there is a lot of money being sunk into making the product in the first place. There is a delicate balance between the money being sunk into films and music and the money being made from these to produce more films and music and if we as the public begin to pirate the products, there will not be enough money going into the cycle to make CD and DVD manufacturing continue.

Of course occasionally you get a film such as Lord of the Rings or Titanic which makes an absolute mint but for the most part films just about make back what was spent on them in the first place, if not even making a loss. The same can be said about music: Michael Jackson and Madonna may be incredibly wealthy but there are literally thousands of bands who every year scrape by. Is it really fair to pirate the work of these people?

Piracy has become a serious offence in many countries now, with the media recording cases of suing up to and over £60,000 pounds – a lot of money in anyone’s books! And yet it is still happening: Loop-holes are being found or people are simply taking the risk so that they can save money in the short term. But the effect this is having on our music and film industries is palpable and soon the cycle of money going in and out could get so broken that both industries will collapse entirely and there will be no more CD or DVD manufacturing!

So what can we do to help? Well, the answer is simple: Don’t use pirated goods! Don’t download illegally off the internet! Whether you use pirated goods or simply buy them, you are still enjoying the same product (nearly always at a higher quality if you buy it, as well!) So why not support the industries so that they can produce more music and film while you’re at it? Get a higher quality product and keep film and music alive by buying legitimately rather than pirating!

The environmental impacts of CD and DVD duplication and replication

August 9th, 2017

What are the effects of duplicating CDs on the environment?

Reports on the state of the environment are all around us, becoming one of the main concerns of the public.  And within this there is no denying that CD and DVD duplication and replication, like every business, has its role in being able to make the environment better or worse.  However there are things that can be done to help – and you yourself can do your part!

But first, consider this:  For each CD made, one kilogram of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere.  Now, that may not sound like much but when you throw into the equation that In the year 2000, 2.455 billion CDs were sold worldwide it makes 2,455,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in one year, plus the 3 and a half metric tonnes of toxic waste that comes with it!  And that, scarily enough, is for just the mass CD duplication of the music industry alone.  That doesn’t count computer games, promotional DVDs, DVD films, any software sales or the blank CDs just sold in shops!

And what happens to all of these CDs once nobody wants them anymore?  That’s right, they end up in landfill.  Because of the complex nature of their make up (CD’s contain many layers of mined minerals such as aluminium, gold, silver and nickel mixed in layers with non-biodegradable petroleum-derived plastics and lacquers) they cannot be recycled in the tradition sense, either.  In fact, if they are accidentally put in plastic recycling, they have been known to ruin the recycling equipment itself!  This is because the plastic used for CDs, polycarbonate plastic (derived from BPA) is almost impossible to recycle and has been linked to human and animal health problems and polluted groundwater.

But there is an alternative to this notorious plastic:  Polylactic acid (PLA) is an entirely biodegradable plastic substitute derived from corn – not only biodegradable but sustainable, too!  Here, then, the environmental impact of mass CD duplication could be lessened greatly.

In a similar vein, jewel CD cases are also clogging up landfill sites.  These, too, could be replaced in the mass CD duplication industry with the PLA cases or could be made out of paper out of recycled paper, a practice some individual CD producers have started to do follow.  This last idea has its problems, however, as the paper and cardboard cases are simply not as durable as the plastic ones and this, more than anything else, has been keeping them off the market.

But enough about what big business could be doing:  What can you do?  Well, you could send your old CDs off to a handful of private companies who have come up with some innovative ways to recycle them.  They can, for a small processing fee, be transformed into all manner of things, ranging from street lamps and car parts to, rather ironically, new jewel cases for the CDs themselves!  A good UK disc recycling company is Polymer Recycling Ltd.  You can also choose an environmentally responsible company for your CD and DVD duplication and replication needs, for instance Duplication Centre UK or Replication Centre UK who do all they can for the environment, for instance by recycling their packaging materials they reduce the amount of their waste that goes into landfill!

What CD or DVD case is right for you?

August 27th, 2013

It doesn’t matter what type of DVD or CD case you use, right?

Wrong.

In most cases, the DVD or CD case is more important than the actual CD label itself, particularly in the consumer markets. So which CD or DVD case is best for your company? There are several different options and we will cover all of them to make sure you are using the right type.

CD cases

CD cases tend to be smaller than DVD cases. They are almost the same size as the CD inside.

What types of CD cases are there?

Jewel case

These cases are said to pick up light like jewels, as they are transparent plastic, fitted with two arms that support the lid. They are the most common types of CD cases and allow for a small leaflet to be inserted in the front and back.

Pros: Strong protection, aesthetically pleasing, allows inserts and offers different variations that hold more CDs

Cons: Teeth and arms are prone to breaking, which render the holder useless. They are not environmentally friendly and they are bulkier than other case options.

The sleeve

A simple sleeve saves the most space out of any CD storage option. They are made from a thin plastic called ‘tyvek’ or paper.

Pros: The tyvek sleeves protect from water and spills, while the paper sleeves are environmentally friendly.

Cons: The paper sleeves don’t protect from condensation or spills. Both the paper and tyvek sleeves do not protect the CDs from getting snapped or crushed.

Eco-friendly options

  • Soft or Green case – most eco-friendly option, made from recycled discs and known for opaque quality
  • Digipack – only one component of plastic
  • Jake case – origami-like
  • WowWallet – FCC approved paper and cardboard

DVD cases

DVD cases are typically the size of a thin, A5 book in order to fit small booklets and extra information inside the case.

Keep cases

Most DVDs are encased in book-sized plastic boxes called Keep Cases. The front allows for a small cover to be inserted and the plastic is usually made from black plastic.

Pros: Strong, durable, allows for booklets and information to be slid into teeth and plastic covering.

Cons: They are not environmentally friendly and are expensive.

Bulk packaging

When it comes to bulk packaging, CDs and DVDs are both packed in Cake Boxes. A Cake Box piles discs on a spindle, with one large cylindrical plastic cover to protect them all.

However some of the cheaper CDs can also come in Blister Packs. Only blank discs are sold in this manner and it is advisable to at least buy sleeves to protect discs with information on them.

Hopefully this article proved useful for choosing your CD and DVD case needs. If you have any questions feel free to ask us!

Which disc label printing method is right for you?

August 5th, 2013

You should always have labels on your CDs.

Why?

For professionalism and so people know which way the disc should be facing when putting it in a CD player.

However, there are four methods for printing labels on your CDs. Which one is best for you?

Let’s review the four options and decide:


Lithographic (offset) printing

Lithographic printing is where your artwork is placed on a processing plate using a chemical treatment. The plate is then ‘offset’, or imposed onto a rubber blanket cylinder. This is then pressed onto the surface of the CD to create the print.

  • Pros: It looks great, provides high-quality photographic printing and sharp text.
  • Cons: It is only possible when replicating discs, not while duplicating.

Overall, this process is great if you need more than 1000 discs, however it typically isn’t the cheapest option.

Thermal transfer printing

Thermal transfer printing is when each colour is set onto a transfer ribbon and then applied beneath a heated print head. This creates a seal, making the disc waterproof and smudge free.

  • Pros: Taken directly from the computer, fast, cost-effective in small runs and it looks great.
  • Cons: You can’t print right up to the edge of the disc and you may need a white base to print other colours on it.

Silkscreen printing

This process passes ink through a monofilament screen, where each colour is applied separately.

  • Pros: It is the cheapest option for large batches and great for simple designs with minimal colours.
  • Cons: Grainy effects often occur around the colour gradients and text. Also, the more colours you use, the lower quality it will look.

Inkjet printing

Inkjet printing entails printing directly onto a specially prepared disc. After that, the disc is covered with a UV-resistant lacquer to prevent fading and scratches.

  • Pros: Very high-quality finish.
  • Cons: Pricier for large batches (since the price is fixed).

Overall, each one of these four CD label printing techniques is a viable option, but hopefully with the guidance above you can narrow down which printing option works best for your project. We understand that price and quality are usually the determining factors for printing on CDs so we tried to focus primarily on that.

How CDs and DVDs Can Impact the Environment

June 28th, 2013

The environment is a hot topic now-a-days.

How are you helping or hurting the environment with your duplication or replication of CDs?

Working with CDs and DVDs has an impact on the environment and it is important to understand how you are impacting the world around you. Not only that, but you must realise the various ways you can counteract the damage that you put on the environment due to your use of CDs or DVDs.

How are you impacting the environment?

Whenever you create a CD you build one kilogram of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere.

Unfortunately most people don’t think that this will affect much. However, since the world’s population is so large, 2,455,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide are created every year from the combination of people’s CD creation.

This statistic is just from the music industry alone. With the addition of promotional CDs, DVD movies, computer games and everything else that is used on CDs the numbers most likely double.

The aftermath

What happens to a CD after you dispose of it?

They typically end up in a landfill. Due to their makeup, they cannot be recycled. In fact, if they are accidentally recycled they can damage the equipment that is used to recycle materials.

An alternative

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a great alternative to the plastic used in CDs. It is biodegradable and can reduce the effect of typical plastics used in CDs.

The material used in CD cases is also a great burden on the environment. In order to counteract the effects of CD cases, you can use PLA cases. You can also use cases that are made out of paper that many music producers have used to create CDs. The only problem with using paper cases is that they are not as durable as the usual plastic cases.

What can you do?

Every small act helps. If you would like to prevent the problems of CD pollution you can send your CDs to private companies who recycle them. A great CD recycling company in the UK is Polymer Recycling Ltd.

You can also choose to work with environmentally friendly companies when choosing your CD duplication and replication options. There are many options out there, but don’t forget that Duplication Centre recycles its packaging materials, so it is an environmentally responsible choice for CDs.

A History of the Compact Disc

June 10th, 2013

The compact disc, or CD, was developed as a result of the evolution of LaserDisc technology. Both Philips and Sony scurried to develop prototypes during the 1970s and they later worked together to produce a standard format and player which was eventually made available to the public in 1982.

The Dawn

The origin of the CD has many stories and several trailblazers to thank for experimenting and figuring out ways to make a disk like the CD available to the public. Although many people claim different inventors of the CD, the early credit should go to three men: Emil Berliner for his proving that flat discs work better for transmitting sounds than the round phonograph, Thomas Edison for his invention of the gramophone record and Antonio Rubbianifor his experimentation with digital video.

However the actual CD was not produced until L.Ottens constructed a team of seven people to create an audio disc that produced a better sound quality than the vinyl record. They set out in 1974 and eventually developed a lab that allowed for more testing and prototypes than ever expected.

The original thought was to develop a CD that had a diameter of 20cm, however this was later changed to 11.5cm to match the diagonal length of a cassette tape.

During that time, Sony joined the race by displaying an optical audio disc in the fall of 1976.

Joining forces

In 1976, Philips and Sony created a joint task force of experts and engineers to create a brand new disc. The task force was headed by ToshitadaDoi and KeesSchouhamerImmink, and after a year of testing, they released the Red Book CD-DA standard which was released in 1980 and later recognised as the international standard in 1987.

The small team was split by representatives from each company and each person was there for their own area of expertise. Representatives from Sony focused on error-correction and Philips representatives focused primarily on the manufacturing process.

The first CDs and players

Langenhagen, Germany was the sight of where the first CD was pressed. The Poydor Pressing Operations plant created the CD with a recording of Richard Strauss’s EineAlpensisfonie. Mass production began in 1982. The first musical album to be release on CD was Billy Joel’s 52nd street, which was sold beside Sony’s brand new CD player CDP-101. This release occurred on October 1, 1982 and led to an explosion of sales in CDs and CD players.

Choosing a Way to Back Up Your Computer

May 21st, 2013

When you need to backup your computer (or at least some of the files on it) there are more than a few options available. Some of the most popular backup methods currently are RAID mirrors, external hard drives, network drives, USB flash drives, tape drives, cloud storage, and DVDs. Choosing the right medium for you is a matter of weighing the pros and cons:

  • RAID mirroring requires a second hard disk drive (with closely matched specifications) for each drive you wish to have backed up. It can be an excellent solution as it keeps files perfectly in sync, even while they are running, and is thus an up-to-the-second backup. On the downside it is somewhat costly.
  • External hard drives can be of any size you choose, and can serve as a solid backup option. Like the RAID setup the up front cost can be relatively high, but it does allow you to take your files with you.
  • Network drives are a good option if you have multiple computers to backup files from. They’re more expensive than RAID or external drives because they require a housing which is bootable (usually running a linux distribution) but they can be very useful in multi-system households.
  • USB flash drives are generally only a good backup solution for small jobs or when you need to have ultimate (physical) portability, as their maximum sizes are quite tiny unless you begin to spend an extreme amount of money.
  • Tape drives are an old standard but are are often expensive as they have been phased out by other solutions. The tapes themselves can be a better deal than hard drives, and are portable.
  • Cloud storage has become increasingly exciting in the last couple of years, but as a backup solution it remains very slow. For small projects where you want portability such as working directories and music libraries the cloud is a great solution, but leave the big jobs out until internet speeds improve dramatically.
  • DVDs (generally the re-writable kind, though it’s also possible to use write-once discs) are a good, cheap solution for backing up your system if you are in a position to swap discs out as you go. DVDs offer the least expensive backup costs, and remain faster than cloud storage even with the need to swap discs in an out. Since backing up to DVD is a good, well-rounded and scalable solution that does not require a huge outlay of money, many people rely on it.

Choosing how much to backup is a very personal decision as well. Some people make whole system backups. Others may find that they are only concerned about things like photos, documents, and the like. In some cases a single DVD may be all a person needs to back their vital data up, but in others a great many gigabytes of data will be involved.

Once you know how much space you need you should make arrangements to secure adequate supplies. In the case of DVDs it is usually very cost effective to buy a spindle of discs and a storage case.

Your next step has to be to find a good piece of software. Fortunately you have a wide variety to choose from. Wikipedia has a list of free and paid backup solutions which, while not comprehensive, is a great start. Also be sure to check around on the search engines if you haven’t yet found something that suits your needs.

One good free program from the list is called Cobian Backup. Using this program it is possible to backup just part of your system or the whole thing, and store it on a variety of backups, including the cost-effective DVDs. It offers you a fairly easy to use interface so you can get started quickly. It can serve as a good first program while you are getting used to backups, and while you are looking around at other options.

Finally, when you make a backup the best storage place for it is away from your PC. If you happen to own a fire safe, placing your backups (such as DVDs) in that safe is a good way to ensure you can recover should anything unfortunate befall your computer.

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