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Are there reasons USB flash drives couldn't replace DVDs (and related disk technologies) in the coming years for storage of data, media and software? The main advantage I see to DVDs is that they are cheaper. Are there others?

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SPINNING! (Other stuff: Making noise, blow up sometimes, spit out disc shrapnels, can't read some discs)..well.. dont let me list it. | But pendrives are pendrives. Only Blu-ray can replace it and I hope it will soon. I want to backup, but I can't. HDDs are big, are not for this. DVDs are so small in capacity, I can't save one category to a DVD. Not even to DVD9. – Shiki Jul 11 '10 at 16:50
(All of the former happened to me. Also: No, I don't want to burn out porn, I want to do backup. DVD is really small for that.) – Shiki Jul 11 '10 at 16:51
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Optical media have the benefit of being electrically isolated from the computer. As a result, they are more immune to damage from electrical problems (bad power supply, lightning, etc).

Also, write-once is technologically easier in optical than in flash. (though PROMs were around before EEPROMs. Maybe I'm wrong here.)

Are these reasons for DVDs to maintain their superiority? Probably not. Cost is really the dealbreaker. Always has been, always will be.

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FYI: PROMS are easier to make because they consist of an array of "fuses"; you program them by blowing out select fuses with a higher current. Re-writabilty was the tricky bit relative to a blown junction. – msw Jul 11 '10 at 5:59
A DVD's write-once capability is important and often overlooked, especially from a security standpoint. – Matt Hanson Jul 11 '10 at 7:09

From a utility standpoint, not all motherboards in production today support booting from USB devices. I guess you'd call them legacy boards, but still true. I can see USB flash drives phasing out optical media as the boot medium of choice eventually, but who knows how long that will take. Look how long it took to phase out the floppy disk.

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Here's one think I believe was overlooked here: are we comparing flash drives of today with today's DVDs or are we comparing flash drives which were in use back when DVDs were new?

Remember 10 years ago how small and expensive flash drives were? They couldn't be compared to a DVD. Same thing is happening right now, except we now have BDs and modern flash drives. A single layer BD-R is much more cheaper than a flash drive of comparable size. Same thing for double layer BD-R.

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We are comparing technologies (IMHO), so Blu-Ray is in the DVD category, and SD cards are in the flash category, and both are a part of the comparison, except that the submitter is asking us to project forward into the future. – Slartibartfast Jul 11 '10 at 16:18

DVD drives have built in encryption which software vendors are forced to comply with in order to access the video on the drive. USB drives have no such protection. Video distributors are reluctant to switch to a DRM free physical format.

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The encryption is not built-into the DVD, but is done by software. The same could in principle be done for USB. – harrymc Jul 11 '10 at 6:26
The encryption relies on firmware in the drive to access the keys and only provide them to approved software. USB drives have no such facility. – Chris Nava Jul 11 '10 at 13:35
Actually, there are drives which do have such functionality! For example Here's a source for encryption debate: Still, the encryption in DVDs is by today's standards laughable. – AndrejaKo Jul 11 '10 at 16:56
Agree. It's not reliable encryption.. but that doesn't stop vendors from insisting on it's presence. – Chris Nava Jul 12 '10 at 2:08

For write-once, DVD is cheaper and more reliable. Also, most DVD players won't read flash drives. That's all I can think of.

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Both these reasons will be obsolete in the 'coming years for storage of data'. – nik Jul 11 '10 at 5:23

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