Solved Are optical boot disks more reliable than USB boot sticks?


Haydon

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From a parallel thread

I have always found the optical disks to be more reliable. Sometimes USB sticks are hit or miss whether they will boot or not.

To which I agreed

A built-in optical disk drive is a must for my present (and next) desktop for that important reason, a reliable boot disk (y)

... and now I wonder myself why optical beats USB in this regard. Is it perhaps because there is only 1 ODD but several USB ports?

(In yet another thread, USB ports in the front and back of a tower are asserted to behave differently, may or may not have a bearing on the issue)
 

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Fabler2

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Personally I've found USB flash drives very reliable. I don't use the optical drive I have on an older HP laptop because of this. All the other laptops I own don't have optical drives.
 

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Fortitude

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I keep my Macrium Reflect recovery files and Windows installation files on both a USB stick and on DVD. The USB stick is much faster and the DVD serves as a fallback solution.
 

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DigitalGoat

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In my 35+ years of computer use I can't actually remember a flash drive ever failing on me. either for booting or data storage but I definitely remember plenty of CDs, DVDs and their drives failing on me, boot, data and audio.
The drives are particularly prone to failure since the drive mechanism tends include plastic cogs that wear quickly, rubber bands that stretch, split, come unseated, perish. Then there is the optical head that can scratch, be covered in debris or the laser can defocus, fail and bit rot of the laminates used for the disc.
Flash drives have their fair share of shortcomings as well, bit flip, corrupted file system, broken USB connector, small enough to loose.
But honestly can't remember the last time a flash drive failed to boot a system I worked on.
 

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cereberus

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It is only people who have never had issues with optical drives that would say they are more reliable.

You have to draw a distinction between the media (optical disk, flash drive) and the reader (optical drive, usb port).


Media
Optical disks can get scratched, dirt on them, exposure to heat etc. will reduce efficiency etc.
A well looked after optical disk can last a long time.

Sure a usb drive can fail (fairly rare but risk increases with age - all will fail sooner or later), so they should not be solely used for critical data backup (always have two independent backups at least for critical data).

Reader
Optical drives will inevitably fail as they have moving parts. Age is a factor i.e. not if but when.
The sensors can get dirty as well - standalone drivers used to have cleaning disks but I have not seen any for pc drives for years

USB ports rarely fail - when they do, the mobo is probably failing anyway




In simple terms, the optical drive is the most unreliable item, and a disk is only as good as the reader trying to read it.

So overall it is no contest - a usb drive and reader, is definitely more reliable than a disk and optical drive.

Howeve
r, all the above is all statistical based - nobody can ever say that your that a compenent of your particular system will not fail early, or will last for a long time. All you can do is reduce risks by redundancy e.g. as @Fortitude says. The amount and type of redundancy depends on criticality of information to be stored.
 

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jimbo45

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Hi there
I find the most reliable by far if you have a spare one is to use an external SSD and connect to computer via SATA->USB connector. If you do it right you can have bootable full windows installations, windows install iso's, boot recovery (macrium), windows PE, partition manager, linux distros etc. Absolutely great for any sort of install and recovery. The Ultimate tool.

To install any Windows on a hdd from this drive simply boot the full windows system on it and then run DISM / Apply-Image to the target disk / partition / vhdx.

A 500GB samsung 860 / 870 SSD is absolutely fast enough for this and has enough space for almost anything you want on it -- plus its small enough to ot be a nusiance if travelling and probably less likely to get lost than USB sticks !!!.

Cheers
jimbo
 

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hsehestedt

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My personal opinion: Optical media may appear to be more reliable as far as booting goes only because there are fewer ways to mess it up. By that, I mean specifically that flash media gives you more options, presenting more opportunities to mess it up.

As an example, I have found that if a user or some app sets up a flash drive as GPT, some apps such as the media creation tool may not correct that situation leading to media that won't boot on some systems.

I wrote a batch file for myself that creates Windows boot media that takes all of these various conditions into account and have NEVER seen it fail even after trying on many, many different computers.

Bottom line - if it ain't working, you probably did something wrong or didn't correct a previous problem with the flash drive first :)
 

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clam1952

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Some newer opticals won't read older DVDs or CDs, some are fussy as to what brand of media they can write to or only write at a slow speed.
I've got and old PC which has SATA and IDE with an old IDE DVD drive in it purely for getting stuff off some of the older DVDs and CDs I have that are unreadable in newer drives, so I can back up the data to external drives, Old SATA and IDE drives of which I seem to have a cumulated a lot that are still in good condition are useful for that purpose.
Last time I actually wrote anything to DVD on a newer drive, it trashed 4 DVDs before I got one that actually finalised, had to reduce the write speed to snails pace, not bothered since as got fed up with creating coasters and thumb drives are IMO far more reliable for repair and boot options. I've actually disconnected the optical drives from my 2 main PCs and used the SATA ports for additional SSDs.
 

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Wynona

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From a parallel thread



To which I agreed



... and now I wonder myself why optical beats USB in this regard. Is it perhaps because there is only 1 ODD but several USB ports?

(In yet another thread, USB ports in the front and back of a tower are asserted to behave differently, may or may not have a bearing on the issue)
I prefer Flash Drives (USB Sticks). I haven't used my DVD drive in aeons, it seems.

I have had no failures.
 

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BunnyJ

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From a parallel thread



To which I agreed



... and now I wonder myself why optical beats USB in this regard. Is it perhaps because there is only 1 ODD but several USB ports?

(In yet another thread, USB ports in the front and back of a tower are asserted to behave differently, may or may not have a bearing on the issue)
it's no longer the case where DVD's are better. In fact a flash drive will totally out perform any DVD,
 

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Ghot

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From a parallel thread



To which I agreed



... and now I wonder myself why optical beats USB in this regard. Is it perhaps because there is only 1 ODD but several USB ports?

(In yet another thread, USB ports in the front and back of a tower are asserted to behave differently, may or may not have a bearing on the issue)


1. Not all USB sticks are equivalent. Buy good ones, and they don't usually have problems.
2. I keep both USB sticks and backup CD/DVDs of important bootable things.
3. I always use Verbatim -R CD or DVDs.
4. For USB sticks I like the higher end Corsair, Samsung or PNY models.
5. For USB sticks, always remember to use the "eject" thing in the System Tray before removing them.

As said by Lobsang, the Tibetan motorcycle repairman, that was reincarnated as a computer...
"You can't have too many backups".

From the book: The Long Earth
Side note: I highly recommend the 5 book series.
by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
 
Last edited:

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    Still assembled, still runs. Haven't turned it on for 13 years?

    http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?183088-5000-B-E-on-M2N32-SLI-Dlx-Overclocked&p=2891724#post2891724

clam1952

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I bought a few USB3 sticks on the last day of Maplin's bankruptcy sale in 2018 for next to nothing. They are Branded Maplin but seem to be to a high standard. Maplin was a UK store equivalent of Radio Shack sadly missed as now there is nowhere to buy individual electronic components and such without going online, which usually means buying in bulk.
 

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    Motherboard
    Asus PRIME B350-PLUS
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    16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 @3000Mhz
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    Logitech K270 - wireless
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    Use hardware KVM to switch monitors on three PCs and software (input director) to use mouse and keyboard on all 4 PCs.
  • Operating System
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    Manufacturer/Model
    Dell Inspiron 3881 - modified with SFX PSU fitted internally
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    Intel i5 - 10400
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    Dell 032w55 version A00
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    16GB of HyperX Fury @ 2133 Mhz
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NavyLCDR

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I agree with jimbo45. If reliability of external storage media is your true concern, you cannot beat a USB SSD drive.
 

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    Dell Inspiron 7773
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    Intel i7-8550U
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    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Nvidia Geforce MX150
    Sound Card
    Realtek
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    Toshiba 512GB NVMe SSD
    SK Hynix 512GB SATA SSD
    Internet Speed
    Fast!

Dch48

Well-known member
Member
Local time
5:24 AM
Posts
441
Location
Upstate NY
OS
Windows 11 Home
In my 22 years of using Windows PC's I have only seen one optical drive fail. (I have never seen a HDD fail but that's another story). The number of times I have produced a "coaster" I can count on one hand that has a couple of fingers missing. Boot discs always work. USB sticks on the other hand don't fail either per se but I have had many that either wouldn't boot at all or would only boot on the computer they were made with. Some computers require special procedures to boot from USB. One of mine requires booting into the BIOS and then choosing to boot the USB stick as a boot override. There are no boot order options. My Acer laptop requires pressing F12 at boot to get a boot menu to choose from. A menu that is not guaranteed to even show the USB stick. My other devices I can set a boot order in the BIOS and that works, sometimes.

Yes, the USB sticks are faster, if they're 3.0, and are less prone to damage. However, my experience shows them less reliable as boot media. They're great for data transfer and storage and much more convenient than optical discs in that usage.

My main computer has 2 optical drives. They both read and write CD's and DVD's but one also does that for Blu-Ray. If I need to make a boot media I want to keep. I will more often burn an ISO to an optical disc. I use the free BurnAware program or sometimes just the built in Windows burner. My flash drives are continually being erased and/ or reformatted. I also have the capability of printing a label on the disc with my inkjet printer and I do that fairly regularly. I have burned discs that are 20 years old and they still work perfectly.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom built
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 5 5600X
    Motherboard
    MSI B550-A Pro
    Memory
    16 GB DDR4-3200
    Graphics Card(s)
    PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 6600XT with 8GB GDDR6
    Sound Card
    Realtek integrated
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Acer Nitro 24" RG241Y 144hz refresh rate
    Screen Resolution
    1920 X 1080
    Hard Drives
    Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB SATA SSD
    Seagate Barracuda 1 TB HDD
    PSU
    LEPA B650 650 watt
    Case
    Enermax Coenus
    Cooling
    Cooler Master Hyper T4 air
    Keyboard
    CM Storm Devastator
    Mouse
    E-Blue Cobra Jr.
    Internet Speed
    100mbs
    Browser
    Microsoft Edge Chromium
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender
    Other Info
    Optical Drives: LG DVD-RW and Pioneer BluRay/ DVD burner
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Asus ROG Zephyrus G14
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS
    Motherboard
    Asus board (GA402RK)
    Memory
    16 GB DDR5-4800
    Graphics card(s)
    Integrated Radeon 680M and discrete Radeon RX 6800S with 8GB GDDR6
    Sound Card
    Integrated Realtek with Dolby Atmos
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Laptop screen 14" WQXGA, IPS, 120hz refresh rate
    Screen Resolution
    2560 X 1600
    Hard Drives
    1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD (Micron)
    PSU
    Battery power and Asus power brick/adapter. Also has USB-C charging
    Case
    Laptop
    Cooling
    Laptop fans in vapor chamber
    Mouse
    Touchpad and Omoton bluetooth mouse
    Keyboard
    Built in backlit
    Internet Speed
    100mbps
    Browser
    Edge Chromium
    Antivirus
    Microsoft Defender

Mark Phelps

Active member
Member
VIP
Local time
5:24 AM
Posts
183
OS
Windows 11
Maybe I am just unlucky in this, but my experiences have been very different.

While my current desktop no longer has optical drives, other older ones still do and I have found those to be the MOST reliable boot devices -- maybe because I go to the trouble to keep my optical disks in cases and regularly clean the laser lenses.

Next (down) in reliability has been USB sticks -- but this varies greatly by brand. I have an older Corsair Voyager that has NEVER failed me in all the years that I have used it, but it cost a fortune (back then). I have had newer ones fail me often, probably over 2/3 of the time. I have thrown more away due to this than I currently still have.

Next (down) in reliability has been external drives, with spinners being more reliable than SSDs. I had one spinner last me 5 years and I am two years into my second. I have gone through three external SSDs in under a year and ultimately, given up on using them because they simply won't connect more than half of the time -- and this is independent of whether I use USB-A ports or USB-C ports. And, this is true across seven different PCs, including three laptops of different models and brands.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Custom built
    CPU
    Ryzen 5600X
    Motherboard
    ASRock Steel Legend
    Memory
    16GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    EVGA GT 710
    Sound Card
    None
    Monitor(s) Displays
    23",24", 19" - flat panels
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1200
    Hard Drives
    None - only M.2 SATA and NVMe drives
    PSU
    750W
    Case
    Antec
    Cooling
    stock Wraith cooler
    Keyboard
    Corsair gaming
    Mouse
    Logitech M720
    Internet Speed
    1Gb

hsehestedt

Well-known member
Power User
VIP
Local time
4:24 AM
Posts
714
Location
Texas, USA
OS
Windows 11 21H2
I find the most reliable by far if you have a spare one is to use an external SSD and connect to computer via SATA->USB connector.
Just one word of caution on using an SSD as a Windows installation disk:

Some computers don't like to boot from NTFS formatted USB media which may cause you to create one or more FAT partitions on your SSD. Just be aware that FAT does not support TRIM.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    Intel i7-11700K
    Motherboard
    ASUS Prime Z590-A
    Memory
    128GB Crucial Ballistix 3200MHz DRAM
    Graphics Card(s)
    No GPU - CPU graphics only (for now)
    Sound Card
    Realtek (on motherboard)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    HP Envy 32
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1440
    Hard Drives
    1 x 1TB NVMe Gen 4 x 4 SSD
    1 x 2TB NVMe Gen 3 x 4 SSD
    2 x 512GB 2.5" SSDs
    2 x 8TB HD
    PSU
    Corsair HX850i
    Case
    Corsair iCue 5000X RGB
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black cooler + 10 case fans
    Keyboard
    CODE backlit mechanical keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 15-BL012DX
    CPU
    Intel i7-7500U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Dual Intel HD 620 and Nvidia GeForce 940MX
    Sound Card
    Built-in Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4k 15-inch
    Screen Resolution
    4k (3840 x 2160)
    Hard Drives
    1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    RAM Upgraded from 16GB to 32GB WiFi Upgraded from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 SSD upgraded from 512GB NVMe SSD to 1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD

Slavic

Active member
Member
Local time
12:24 PM
Posts
215
OS
Windows 11 Pro; Windows 8.1 Pro
I definitely prefer USB flash boot device vs DVD drive. In my desktop PC, the section for DVD drive is empty, instead I have the external USB DVD-RW/BD drive. I use it quite rarely, mostly for reading my old archive DVDs and DVD with drivers for some external hardware components like a Wi-Fi adapter.

Because a boot USB drive needs to be updated not often, its longevity doesn't suffer with time. I don't use them as storage of other files even when they have enough empty space. As an external storage, USB SSD is unbeatable. I use Samsung T5 500 Gb, balanced from the point price/size for me personally (some people may prefer other drives, newer and with more size). For example, I keep on one SSD multi-GB video games for playing from USB 3.1 port (not shooters), no much wearing for two years, performance is quite good. On the other side, USB SSDs are not intended to work as boot devices; I tried but it's hard to create such because need to load the corresponding OS driver during early boot stage.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro; Windows 8.1 Pro
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    i7-12700K (Alder Lake)
    Motherboard
    Asus PRIME Z690-M Plus D4
    Memory
    16 GB (2x8 Corsair DDR4-2132)
    Graphics Card(s)
    Asus GeForce 1050 Ti, 4 GB
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Philips 235PQ
    Screen Resolution
    1920x1080
    Hard Drives
    Windows 11: Samsung SSD 870 EVO, 500 GB (SATA), MBR
    Windows 8.1: Samsung SSD 980 PRO, 500 GB (M.2), MBR
    PSU
    Platimax D.F. 1050 W (80 Plus Platinum)
    Internet Speed
    Local link 1 Gbps, provider's line 500 Mbps
    Browser
    Google Chrome
    Other Info
    Realtek PCIe GbE Family Controller (for Windows 8.1 compatibility)
    Microsoft Office H&S 2013 x64

hdmi

Well-known member
Power User
VIP
Local time
11:24 AM
Posts
530
Location
Belgium
OS
11 Home
I have had no real problems with either, except I might die from old age by the time an optical disc finishes.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    11 Home
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Medion S15450
    CPU
    i5 1135G7
    Memory
    16GB DDR4
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Iris Xe
    Sound Card
    Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC Supreme; Emotiva UMC-200; Astell & Kern AK240
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Medion Life X18102
    Screen Resolution
    3840×2160
    Hard Drives
    2TB SSD internal
    37TB external
    PSU
    Li-ion
    Keyboard
    Logitech K800
    Mouse
    Logitech G402
    Internet Speed
    20Mbit/s up, 200Mbit/s down
    Browser
    FF

hsehestedt

Well-known member
Power User
VIP
Local time
4:24 AM
Posts
714
Location
Texas, USA
OS
Windows 11 21H2
I was early to the CD burning game. I purchased the first available consumer CD burner on the market. I used to burn CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays like crazy. In fact, I had a collection of over 1,500 DVD movies and several hundred Blu-Rays. Now, I've ripped them all to digital format and store them on HDDs. I can't even remember the last time I burned an optical disc, but I still have a couple hundred blank Blu-Rays that I keep around "just in case".

Thumb drives are just WAY more convenient and much faster. I have some thumb drives that will do well over 200 MB/s.

It's funny how things that were at one-time cutting-edge technology can simply fade away into almost non-existence.
 

My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Home Built
    CPU
    Intel i7-11700K
    Motherboard
    ASUS Prime Z590-A
    Memory
    128GB Crucial Ballistix 3200MHz DRAM
    Graphics Card(s)
    No GPU - CPU graphics only (for now)
    Sound Card
    Realtek (on motherboard)
    Monitor(s) Displays
    HP Envy 32
    Screen Resolution
    2560 x 1440
    Hard Drives
    1 x 1TB NVMe Gen 4 x 4 SSD
    1 x 2TB NVMe Gen 3 x 4 SSD
    2 x 512GB 2.5" SSDs
    2 x 8TB HD
    PSU
    Corsair HX850i
    Case
    Corsair iCue 5000X RGB
    Cooling
    Noctua NH-D15 chromax.black cooler + 10 case fans
    Keyboard
    CODE backlit mechanical keyboard
    Mouse
    Logitech MX Master 3
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    Additional options installed:
    WiFi 6E PCIe adapter
    ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 PCIe adapter
  • Operating System
    Windows 11 21H2
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP Spectre x360 15-BL012DX
    CPU
    Intel i7-7500U
    Memory
    32GB
    Graphics card(s)
    Dual Intel HD 620 and Nvidia GeForce 940MX
    Sound Card
    Built-in Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    4k 15-inch
    Screen Resolution
    4k (3840 x 2160)
    Hard Drives
    1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD
    Internet Speed
    300Mb down / 20Mb up
    Browser
    Chromium Edge
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    RAM Upgraded from 16GB to 32GB WiFi Upgraded from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6 SSD upgraded from 512GB NVMe SSD to 1TB Seagate FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD

Porthos

Active member
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VIP
Local time
4:24 AM
Posts
166
OS
Windows 10
If reliability of external storage media is your true concern, you cannot beat a USB SSD drive.
I think the same way. But if the data is important be sure you have more than one copy just in case.
That mistake is one many end-users make when storing data. "I can't access my external whatever" calls I receive are frequent.
SSD, standard external, and other media all can and will fail.
I always ask the question, don't you still have said data on the computer and the answer is always no.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10
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