Apple seems set to kill the optical drive

“Apple seems set to kill the optical drive when it releases Mac OS X ‘Lion’ as a downloadable upgrade via the Mac App Store,” Jonny Evans blogs for Computerworld.

“While this begs questions — principally how a Mac user can launch a faulty Mac from disk, without a disk — this isn’t the first time Apple’s changed an industry,” Evans writes.

Full article, in which Evans provides a “short (and necessarily incomplete) list” of industries that Apple’s changed, here.

Related article:
RUMOR: Apple to release Mac OS X Lion through Mac App Store – May 4, 2011


  1. Apple has already showed us for to launch a faulty Mac from a drive without an optical disk: a USB drive. Did Apple not already show with the MBA that they would be shipping a thumbdrive with the install files on it?

      1. (BTW.. I am STILL buying the physical version of this upgrade whether it is in USB drive form or DVD.)

        Given that AT&T is now ending their unlimited downloading on their DSL, it might be the way to go for alot of people. AT&T’s truly gone BS with this approach.. I need to look out for alternatives soon with unlimited access w/ no additional fees (if there are any). F U AT&T!

    1. Well, apparently, the Wikipedia article you linked to says (at the bottom, under ‘Modern Usage’) that usage of ‘begs the question’ instead of ‘raises the question’ is acceptable, even though that isn’t the original meaning of the phrase.

      1. Predrag,
        Read it again. The article says that using, “begs the question,” instead of, “raises the question,” is “erroneous” and “incorrect.”

      1. It does not!
        It has a very specific meaning and purpose in a formal debate. If we mis-use words like this we dumb down our language and culture. English is a wonderful and rich language. We should be proud enough to speak it well.

        1. Frankly, I’ve never used the phrase, “to beg the question,” in the sense described as correct by Wikipedia. Clearly it’s just a case of a technical term entering main-stream English usage but being mis-interpreted and re-defined. Besides, both can co-exist, you know, so long as you’re aware of how context modifies the meaning.
          Furthermore, where it states, “Many English speakers erroneously assume…”: if there’s one thing that studying linguistics should teach anyone, it’s that people change language to suit them. In linguistics (which is, after all, all about /communication/) the majority are the arbiters of meaning, not the “expert” minority.
          Finally: surely it’s the continual evolution of the English language, yet its existence alongside and interaction with earlier and/or parallel forms that makes it so rich?
          NB: I’d happily argue that verbing “dumb” is a dumbering down of our language 😉

  2. So backing up to a BluRay disc is bad but backing up to a hard drive thats prone to mechanical failure is good.

    Don’t get me started with backing up to the cloud. 2.5 TB of personal data (mainly photos, music and movies) and an internet providers that are hell bent on putting in data limits just doesn’t work for me.

    1. Apple isn’t stopping you from backing up to Blu Ray… simply buy Toast 11 and a Blu Ray burner (seen an external Blu Ray burner from BestBuy for $150, so I’m sure you can find it elsewhere for cheaper.) Also, a quick check via google confirms that there is software out there to make Blue Ray movie copies on the Mac.

      Options don’t hurt you… they instead give you more ways to do the same things… you can pick which one works for you and no one’s stopping ya.

      I DO agree that these internet providers placing caps on their broadband is a crutch for cloud services. Personally going to look for alternatives to AT&T DSL pretty soon.

        1. I agree that Apple should have in place a build to order option for Blu Ray for iMacs (or any other products they create with optical drives in them). Regardless of Apple’s cloud initiatives or any other conspiracy issues you can think of, you can still purchase an external Blu Ray drive on the cheap that fits your needs.

    2. You seem to be somewhat clueless if you think BluRay is less prone to mechanical failure than a hd.

      A hd is built like a tank compared to an optical disc. Optical discs get scratched in a blink, can´t stand sunlight, heat… the list goes on and on.

      A cheap hd holds the storage of 30-50 BluRays and most certainly last 50 times longer than BluRay discs.

      Plug in the HD only when u want to back up, and you´ll find that the MTBF of a hd outperforms that of the flimsy optical drives by light years.

      Usually when hds go bad, it is the circuitry and you can often rescue the contents, with optical discs, it´s always the media itself going bad.

  3. Remove the optical drive and you loose a very good method of archiving data. Is there a more permanent form of data archiving than optical disc? How long will a memory chip hold data?

    1. The best method for archiving is using different mediums and redundancy. I have found data discs quite often fail on me.

      I look forward to when external SSD drives are a widely available option (to add to the redundancy.) I think it’s common sense that these drives would have less moving parts compared to a platter hard drive and therefore should be more dependable. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. Data on SSD drives is good for 20 years, 19 times out of 20. That is a 5% chance of lost data in 20 years.

        I have never seen lost data in a backup optical disc that has been tested for content and stored properly. An optical disc that gets frequent use does get damaged occasionally.

        1. Personally, I’ve had perfectly burned and stored optical data discs that weren’t frequently used and were less than 5 years old that have failed on me. They were tested after burned and worked properly initially. No single media is failsafe which is why redundancy is so very important when making backups.

  4. I bought a stack of 50 burnable discs 5 years ago and still haven’t used more than a dozen. I haven’t slid a disc into my drive for three years and I regret having the space and money used to have it in my MB.

  5. There will be thunderbolt drives I bet, manufactured and sold by Apple.

    This seems premature – especially for archiving purposes.

    BTW – a companies lack or foresight does not make it an “industry changer”.

  6. Optical discs, in my opinion, are no more reliable than hard drives. I can’t tell you the number of burned CDs and DVDs that are unreadable after five years or so. I recently came across a data CD that was burned less than two years ago which was unreadable on three different Macs.

    As for the inclusion of an optical drive at all, how else can I get physical CDs from my collection into iTunes. And how else can I get “mix tapes” to play in my car other than burning a CD (and I know I can create an iTunes playlist, but my 12-year-old car lacks iPhone input…)

    1. To answer your question, if you car has a cassette tape player, there are cassette tape to 1/4″ audio jack adapters available on the cheap to give you the capability to play your iPhone with your particular stereo system.

      Also, there are tons of 3rd party car stereo systems available with an auxiliary jack that can be had for less than $100.

  7. It always amazes me how some users project their wants/needs on every other user.
    “I don’t use an optical drive (firewire, matte screen, interchangeable batteries, iPad camera, PC card/express card, yada-yada)… so no one else should want one.

    I can live with Ive pulling features out of the hardware to make it “prettier”. I can’t live with needed support pulled out of the OS. As long as I can plug an op drive into the hardware, I can live with the “modernization”.

    BTW – I’ve burned several DVD’s for clients today, and the day isn’t over. I use the 2 op drives in my MacPro daily.

    1. A MacPro isn’t exactly space- and weight constrained.
      I recently threw out a lot of old PCs – one with 3 Plextor Ultra-SCSI CD drives.
      Hadn’t used it in 5 years – and the CD drives even less.
      The only reason to have CD/DVD-drives for me was to be able to install OpenSource operating systems, back when the hardware was too slow for serious virtualization.

  8. @althego:

    “So backing up to a BluRay disc is bad but backing up to a hard drive thats prone to mechanical failure is good.”

    I have 1.3 TB of music and data. My iTunes media folder is on an external Firewire RAID 1 drive, because backing it up to optical disks, even BluRay, would involve too much manual disk-swapping.

    The cloud is slowly becoming the only practical backup solution. Not just because people have a lot of data these days, but also because not even BluRay can survive a house fire.

    1. The thought of backing up all of that data to the cloud sends me shivers, lol! The time it would take to send it to the cloud (at least for me) would be very impractical, not to mention tedious with privacy concerns! If I was in your case, I’d use multiple backups for redundancy and avoid the cloud altogether.

      When storing all of your personal information in the cloud, your privacy dependent on the company you provide your data to. Your data’s safety is entirely dependent of the reliability of that companies servers.

      A better (and quicker) option is to have a backup (or two) in physical form (via optical or drive media) outside of your one current location where your reside. This also circumvents any future issues with ISP data caps looking forward.

      1. When I said “The cloud is slowly becoming the only practical backup solution,” the word “slowly” means that it isn’t quite there yet, but it will be.

        My cable company (Cox) has gradually raised my speed from 1Mbps to 30Mps, and it has a 50Mbps option. They are testing a 100Mps option. That shows the speed problem is about to be solved. Cox competes with Verizon in my area. Each is trying to win me over from the other. This means we have a game of “my network is faster than your network” in which consumers can only win. If one imposes data caps, the other can steal its customers by not having one. (The Cox technician told me their cables have, for practical purposes, infinite capacity, which means data caps aren’t necessary.) After the initial backup, differential backups don’t take much time. Okay, that takes care of speed concerns.

        Future methods of encryption can eliminate privacy concerns.

        Cloud backup can be continuous and in the background. You don’t have to remember to do it, and you don’t need to dedicate time to sitting at your desk swapping disks. You can forget to do your BluRay solution.

        If a calamity hits you between manual backups, you lose anything you added since the last backup.

        You don’t have to purchase a fire-proof safe, capable of keeping the contents cool enough, no matter how hot the fire.

        On top of that, the kind of optical disks you burn at home lose their data with time. It’s not a permanent solution.

        No backup solution is perfect, but the cloud, in my opinion, is going to be (not “is” but “going to be”) better than the other choices. On top of everything else, the cloud company has a very strong motive for backing up the data, because if they don’t, the first calamity would put them out of business.

        Hey, look, even thumb drives can hold more data than a BluRay disk. It isn’t secure, but that’s not my point. Relative to the data we have, BluRay is becoming more and more inadequate. I see no future for BluRay. Movies can be downloaded. Data can be uploaded.

    2. My back-up discs are kept with other valuables in a safety deposit box.

      The cloud will not be a storage option with the new limits about to come down from the internet providers. All providers in Canada are about to bring the hammer down.

      I also back up with external hard drives. I’ve had 2 expensive hard drive failures in the last 5 years. Glad the hard drive prices are finally dropping.

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