Jukebox hero: The best way to handle DVDs

Lowdown

What is it? A DVD jukebox is a storage device used to house and access hundreds of data DVDs.

When do I need one? If you store large quantities of data for long periods of time, and access to the data is important.

What are the main considerations in buying jukeboxes? First, storage capacity. You should acquire units that will handle your current and projected data storage needs. Second, user access. If many people will be using data simultaneously, the unit should have multiple DVD drives. Finally, the physical size of the unit. It should fit your space, either as a standalone cabinet or a rackmount component.

Must-know info? The software that manages the DVD jukebox should have all of the search, management and security capabilities you require. Consider a DVD server to hold frequently used data.

As a storage option, a DVD has a lot to offer: durability, flexibility, convenience and price. The problem is how to manage that stack, and that is where the DVD jukebox comes in.

A DVD jukebox holds many disks, each in a separate slot. When a user selects a DVD, the disk is moved to one or more drives within the unit for reading or writing. A jukebox holds from hundreds of gigabytes to tens of terabytes of data.

DVDs also are estimated to last up to 100 years, depending on the quality of the media. And most DVD jukeboxes also handle CD-ROMs, so you can continue to use them even as you transition to DVD.

DVD jukeboxes typically are accessed via a network, possibly as part of a system that includes tape libraries and RAID systems. Often, more-frequently accessed data is stored locally in a separate optional cache, which reduces the need to read the same DVD repeatedly.

Besides the obvious consideration of current and projected storage capacity requirements, it's also necessary to think about user access. For example, if many users are accessing data simultaneously, you need a unit with a large number of drives to handle the demand.

On the other hand, if access is likely to be light, fewer drives are necessary, freeing up space for more DVDs.

Never buy a single-drive jukebox. If the drive fails, you're left with an expensive DVD rack. n
Edmund DeJesus of Norwood, Mass., writes about IT.

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