Optical drives are used to read and sometimes record compact disc media.
Since most software comes on CD, optical drives are an essential part computers.
If you are unsatisfied with the performance of your current optical drive or would like to be able to record data onto CDs, this upgrade is worth considering.
Optical drives can be divided into three categories: CD-ROM drives, CDR drives, and CDRW drives.
CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory) drives can only read data from CDs.
CDR (Compact Disc Recordable) drives have the added ability of recording data onto special CDR media.
CDRW (Compact Disc Re-Writable) drives can read and record data onto CDR media, and also re-record data onto CDRW media.
Drives from all three of the categories can be found with either the IDE or SCSI interface.
CDR drives and CDRW drives are becoming more popular because more models are becoming available at lower prices.
CDR drives are an excellent tool for permanent data storage because compact discs have a lifespan of approximately 100 years and are relatively cheap (usually ranging from 50 cents to 2 dollars each when bought in quantities of 10 or more).
CDRW media are much more expensive but can be rewritten hundreds of times.
However, most older CD-ROM drives cannot read CDRW media, making them unsuitable for file transfer between computers.
Most CD-ROM drives are priced between $40 and $200, while CDR and CDRW cost $300 and up.
A Phillips screwdriver and about 30 minutes of time are required to install an IDE optical drive.
Click here for a list of links to IDE CD drive manufacturers.