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Blu-screen thinking

With hard drive prices still high, we're looking to SSDs and Blu-ray for storage

Floods in the far east triggered a minor famine in storage across the world. Prices of hard drives are finally beginning to settle down, with 2TB of spinning storage costing closer to £100 than the £200 mark it was a few months ago.

But like Wikipedia disappearing for a day, you don’t always realise how much you need something until it’s not there. And if you’re looking to keep all your data securely squirrelled in an online repository, you’ll need an array of still-pricey hard disks, nesting in one neat NAS chassis. For major storage requirements, look to a six-bay professional unit like the Qnap TS-659 Pro II.

Those inflated hard-disk prices started to make even flash storage look cheap. We’ve standardised on testing 256GB SSDs, since that capacity is enough to keep the essentials in one place. But remember a few years ago when 80GB was a decent size for a PC drive? You might still get by with just 64GB, and SSDs of this capacity can really rocket your PC experience. One such option is the A-Data S599 64GB; we've also reviewed the Samsung 830 Series 256GB.

Optical storage offers more permanent security for your precious data, and the Blu-ray Disc is a good option for archiving multiple gigabytes. But the medium was built for HD video. Windows users have had that option for years; Mac users weren’t so well catered for.

“Blu-ray is a bag of hurt,” said the late Steve Jobs when asked why no Blu-ray hardware or software was provided by Apple. “I don’t mean from the consumer point of view... the licensing is so complex. We’re waiting until Blu-ray takes off before we burden our customers with the cost of licensing and the drives.”

And Blu-ray Disc drives certainly have been expensive since Sony spearheaded the format 10 years ago. Even now, a Blu-ray writer is still around three times the price of a full-featured dual-layer DVD+/-RW mechanism. You’ll find several affordable examples in our Blu-ray writers group test, however.

And a large hole in the otherwise comprehensive multimedia capabilities of a modern Macintosh has also been filled, in part at least, by Macgo's Mac Blu-ray Player.

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