Getting the most out of a desktop drive bay

Pre-made desktop PCs are much more customizable than most consumers realize. For instance, most – if not all – PCs on the market come equipped with a 5.25-inch drive bay. Now, some users may never even realize that the drive is there, much less give serious consideration to utilizing it to increase the functionality of their machine. There are many options available to consumers ranging from the pragmatic to the ridiculous, but the best way to get the most out of a drive bay is to install a Blu-ray burner for media viewing and data storage needs.

Desktop Review has suggested several options to take advantage of open bay drives, including installing cooling fans, card readers and removable drive enclosures. These applications are all practical solutions, but the average user will most likely never notice or need the benefits provided by additional cooling resources or supplementary card reader ports.

Meanwhile, Lifehacker offered more impractical applications for an empty bay drive. The publication found 7-inch LCD monitors, toasters and cup holders that were designed for 5.25-inch bay drives. These products may seem good for a laugh or two, but ultimately most consumers would benefit from an application that they will actually use.

Installing a Blu-ray burner would allow users to watch and create videos with high-definition clarity. DIGISTOR offers the only slot load Blu-ray burner in the world that is compatible with the 5.25-inch bay drive. In addition to covering consumers' media viewing needs, DIGISTOR's DIG-68100 internal Blu-ray drive allows users to archive their one-of-a-kind files, including photos and home movies.

Next Xbox to rely on Blu-ray

The video game world has been abuzz about what features will be included on forthcoming consoles. One aspect seems to be clear: Blu-ray will be the media format of choice for the successor to Microsoft's popular Xbox 360 machine. Ars Technica reported that an internal Microsoft email stated that the still unrevealed console will have Blu-ray playback capabilities. This has led many analysts to speculate that games delivered via traditional physical media will use Blu-ray discs as their format.

It makes sense that Microsoft would pursue Blu-ray for its media needs, as the format far outpaces the DVDs it currently uses for the Xbox 360. Time reported that when the company upgraded to a new disc format in 2011, the available storage maxed out at 7.95 gigabytes. In comparison, Sony's Blu-ray discs typically have as much as 50 gigabytes of usable space available. This has led to many instances in which Microsoft had to release games spanning multiple discs that could be easily stored on a single Blu-ray. As the size of next-gen games increases, the need for Blu-ray's greater storage capacity will rise as well.

With its move to Blu-ray, Microsoft can expect to reduce their production costs while also alleviating some headaches for gamers. Video game players will no longer need to swap out discs to continue progress in their digital adventures. In addition, with the inclusion of playback functionality in the new console, users will be able to view media files such as home videos created on Blu-ray burners.

Hard drive sales outperform expectations

Analysts have predicted far reaching ramifications for the faltering PC market. As consumers trade in their desktops for alternative solutions such as mobile devices, many industry experts predicted that the hard drive market would suffer along with PCs. However, recent reports suggest that consumers are still looking to external hard drives to address their storage needs. 

According to Reuters, hard drive manufacturer Western Digital announced that its forecast for fourth-quarter earnings outpaced analysts' expectations by as much as six cents per share. Since the third quarter of 2012, the company's revenue has risen 24 percent to $3.76 billion. In addition, hard drive shipments rose 36 percent to 60.2 million units. 

Furthermore, Mark Miller, an analyst with Noble Financial Capital Markets, told Reuters that demand for storage solutions is growing at an annual rate of 30 percent.

"It appears the hard drive business is not suffering as much," he told the news outlet. "That is because of the growth of the cloud and digital data."

However, investment research website Seeking Alpha had a different interpretation on the continued sustainability of the hard drive market. Their analysts suggested that consumer interest in high-definition media formats such as Blu-ray was driving hard drive sales. Users who want to download and play high definition movies, television shows and video games will need much larger hard drives to provide the storage space required to house those files. 

Managing data storage needs with archiving solutions

The amount of data being generated in the world continues to reach new heights and is showing no signs of abating. According to IDC, the amount of data in the world will double every two years through 2020, when every person on the planet will account for more than 5,200 gigabytes of data. The rapidly increasing amount of data has put additional strain on the storage needs of individuals and companies of all sizes alike.

As businesses age and expand, older data ceases to be used in everyday operations. However, because businesses may still need to access that information at a future time, it cannot simply be discarded. At the same time, managers need to clear storage space to accommodate mission critical files that are needed on a regular basis. In these circumstances, many experts suggest that enterprises employ data archiving solutions to better manage data storage needs.

TechTarget contributor Brien Posey suggested several factors for professionals to keep in mind when launching a data archiving project. One of the key components of a successful initiative is having in place a comprehensive policy that dictates all aspects of the data archiving process. A solid policy should include how personnel determine what data can be archived, what equipment and media type will be used in the process, how long the data will be stored and who will have access to it once archiving is complete.

Businesses should also plan for future compatibility issues. If a company switches operating systems down the road, their archiving tools may not function properly. To avoid this scenario, companies of all sizes should consider an archiving solution that is compatible with both Mac and PC systems, such as DIGISTOR's REWIND software. Users can harness this technology to conveniently store their files for later access.

iMac sales remain robust, but Blu-ray backup is still missing

The proliferation of mobile devices have lead to a steep decline for the PC market. IDC recently reported that worldwide PC shipments for Q1 2013 were down nearly 14 percent compared to the same period the year before. However, those same trends do not appear to be slowing down sales of Mac desktops. According to analysis conducted by Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, sales for Apple's iMac rose 31 percent this past January, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reported. Munster attributed the rising sales figures to an increase in available inventory.

However, those new iMac owners may find that their new computer is lacking a major accessory out of the box. Many newer models of Apple desktops lack optical drives, including those that can read the ever-popular Blu-ray media format. Apple vice president Phil Schiller told Time that one of motivating factors for the removal of Blu-ray drives from iMac machines was the company's desire to produce streamlined and simple products with fewer moving parts.

When investing in an additional media accessory, those consumers should consider purchasing a DIGISTOR external Blu-ray recordable drive. When used with DIGISTOR's Rewind archiving software, Mac users can easily archive important data files. With third party software such as Roxio Toast and Macgo, Mac users can also author and burn Blu-ray discs and watch studio Blu-ray movies.

The pitfalls of laptop storage

Many people, including self-employed professionals such as photographers and videographers, are content to store the only copies of their critical data files on laptops or mobile devices. However, the threat of laptop theft is a growing concern in the United States. According to statistics cited by the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, 81 percent of companies reported losing at least one device that contained sensitive information. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that 97 percent of stolen laptops and desktops are never recovered by their owners.

Photographer Melanie Willhide was one of the few victims of laptop theft who actually recovered her stolen device from the local police department. However, when Willhide booted up her machine, she found that the thief had completely erased all of her stored data, PetaPixel reported. She attempted to run the system's recovery software, but the images she recovered suffered from data corruption and were significantly altered.

For professionals whose livelihoods depend on the availability and reliability of stored data, relying on laptops or system recovery software to handle those duties is untenable. To ensure that critical data files are always available, professionals should consider a storage workflow consisting of multiple backups in multiple locations as well as a permanent archive using Blu-ray recordable discs.