Six reasons to kill off the DVD

Tony Bradley
27 July, 2011
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When Apple launched refreshed hardware last week, it was no surprise that the ultrathin MacBook Air still does not have an internal DVD drive. Many were shocked to find out, though, that Apple has now also removed the DVD drive from the Mac mini. But, Apple shouldn’t stop there, and the revolution shouldn’t be limited to Apple, or even just to PCs for that matter. It’s time for discs to die.

Don’t get me wrong, discs were great and contributed to the evolution of technology—I greatly appreciated when CDs came along to replace stacks upon stacks of floppy disks. We are now at a point, though, where discs are unnecessary and cause more problems than they solve. Here are six reasons I won’t be sad to see discs go.


The optical drive has mechanical parts that spin the disc at high speed while the data is read using a laser. Even if you can’t obviously hear it, the whirring of the drive adds ambient noise. In some cases, like with my Xbox 360 drive, the spinning of the drive is audible and annoying from the next room.


Devices with mechanical parts that spin at high speed eventually break. Disc drives can collect dust, which can affect the ability of the laser to read the data. Looking back over the last decade, disc drives have been the number one cause of repair and replacement costs for me whether it’s in a desktop or notebook PC, a game console like the Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360, or the variety of DVD and Blu-ray players I have gone through.


Whether we are talking about an Xbox 360, a desktop PC, or a portable notebook, a disc drive consumes more energy than the alternatives. Using a CD or DVD drive greatly reduces battery life on portable devices.


Reading data from a solid-state drive (SSD), or even from a hard drive is exponentially faster than reading that same data from a CD or DVD. Your mileage will vary depending on the drives you’re comparing, but you will get significantly better performance from data stored locally on a drive than you will reading it from a CD or DVD.


This is the main reason I won’t be sad to see discs go—the discs. They take up space. If you need to reinstall a program a year later, you have to try and remember where you stored the disc, and hope it is not unusably scratched or cracked. Hard drive capacity is cheap and virtually limitless, and it can be easily searched to find what you’re looking for.


I bought a Blu-ray player over a year ago. I own one Blu-ray movie and I can count on one hand the number I have rented. Why? The player also connects to my internet connection and provides streaming media content, enabling me to choose and watch movies instantly rather than going to a video store or waiting for a disc to arrive in the mail.

The same convenience applies with computer software, and with console games. Why deal with having to get or wait for a physical disc when the software can be delivered over the Internet in a few minutes?

Time to move on

I don’t care that Apple ditched the drive in the Mac mini, or that it only offers (for now) Mac OS X Lion as a digital download. I don’t mind that Netflix seems to be intentionally driving customers away from using physical DVDs. I welcome rumours that Microsoft might develop a disc-less Xbox console.

Thank you for your service CDs and DVDs, but your time has passed. Buh-bye.

Disc image by Leeuwenborchweide via Wikimedia Commons


12 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Tim says:

    I 100% agree with this. I have been telling friends and co workers to steer away from Blu Ray as it is a dead end technology. Why burn fuel to drive to a store and buy a disc when you can get it straight from the net. Like anything people are used to driving and waiting in line to buy discs and are afraid of change. If you need an optical drive so badly, purchase an external one to connect to your new Mac mini or MacBook Air. My 2 cents.

  2. Pedro says:

    This is crazy talk. I disagree totally. A few minutes to download? How about four hours? This vision of the internet is fine for folk who have a cheap internet account with an almost uncapped download allowance. Spare a thought for those with lousy copper lines and very slow ADSL speeds and which Telstra won’t lift a finger to fix. The NBN will be the solution but for most of us, not for a few years yet. All my movies have to be bought on DVD.

  3. Anthony Hortin says:

    This all sounds good in theory and may be fine for people who live in the US, but until other countries (like Australia) have access to decent online services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc.., then it’s still just that. Theory.

  4. WJB says:

    I don’t care they have ditched the INTERNAL DVD drive in the new Mac Mini (and look set to maybe in future Macs). The reason? My iMac DVD drive plays up a lot. Sticks discs, wont read some, given up burning. Can I replace it? Not without spending a LOT of $$$.

    If I could just buy a new, inexpensive external drive I’d be happy. That’s the way these new Macs are going. Buy one if you need, save money if you dont. And if you have one external drive, maybe share it between devices.

    I still wish Apple would do a sanctioned BluRay drive. With the broadband speed I get (speed being a poor word choice), downloading vast amounts of data is still an issue that looks like staying around for a while.

    Maybe software should come on small USB keys instead of DVDs. Smaller, faster, not much more expensive to buy. Easy to plug into any device.

  5. James says:

    Here in Japan the ONLY way to share my photography work is on Blu-ray disk. No other method is accepted. Blu-ray is extremely popular here and ALL PCs and TVs have a Blu-ray drive for watching and burning content. I have an external Blu-ray burner that I use with my MBP and would be out of a job without it. The fact that Macs don’t have a Blu-ray drive is why many photographers here in Japan stick with Japanese brand Windows laptops. Optical discs are going to be here for a long time yet.

  6. Chris Oaten says:

    I have clients who expect their images delivered on disk. What do you think I should tell them?

    “Sorry. I don’t have an optical drive anymore. Yeah, I know I used to deliver the images on disk. Good, wasn’t it? You’d have a nice sample image on it, plus assignment details, date, copyright and license summary, contact details, location. All that guff. And it was so easy to archive, too, and when you picked it up and handled it you could see exactly what was on the disk by virtue of my excellent labelling methodology. Tell you what… how about a thumb drive? No? Too easy to lose? Yeah. Ah well…. Ok…. how about an ftp download? The 4GB of uncompressed TIFFs I’m sending shouldn’t take too long. No? Gotta have disks, huh?”

    While I have clients who expect images on disk, I’ll stick with optical drives. When you can change *their* mind, you let me know, OK?

  7. Dale Rodgie says:

    I also using DVDs less and less. Up until a month ago I backed-up by work iMac every work day. It took 20-30 minutes each day. Now I have Dropbox and it backs up to the cloud. I can go home earlier and it shares my work files with my home iMac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad.

    I still want more than Dropbox currently does like syncing emails and photos on all my devices. Maybe iCloud may be the answer.

  8. Myles Patching says:

    I agree with Chris Oaten, many clients need a disk to display and keep projects and it may be OK for some who live in a broadband area but some of us just don’t have the time to download movies via dial-up. How antiquated is that. Tell someone who cares if you can find them.
    Buying and extra drive, if you need it, seems just old fashioned. We use iMacs all the time now at work and the thought of going out to buy another box to sit somewhere on my cluttered desk would be insane.
    Has anyone thought of high capacity solid state drives for all this stuff. It might be more convenient and get over the buzzing that Tim has.

  9. Travis says:

    You do realise that the “HD” movies you stream or download are of a vastly inferior quality to Blu-ray? You may not care about that, but a lot of people do.

  10. Graeme says:

    Disagree completely.
    The fact that Lion doesn’t come on a DVD is the reason I will resist upgrading for as long as possible. Downloading off the net does not help when the MB has died and you’ve just put a new HD in it. How the H3ll are you going to download an OS from a non boot-able MAC?
    My Son still wants to play his DVDs on his Mac book, and at least two of his games require the DVD to be placed in the drive before they will play.
    By all means replace the DVD with a BD drive, but a removable, cheap to copy and distribute media is still required.
    Apple, you go too far.

  11. David says:

    In regards to reliability for storage, harddrives have moving parts so they are prone to failure. I store backups of jobs i do on DVDs and will be moving to Bluray. Discs may take up space but they last longer, they don’t deteriorate over time. And the NBN will be a lot more expensive and be years before we can afford to even get close to it.

    To Tony, to be able download movies in the same quality instantly you must be living right next to the exchange.

    To WJB, just look online I picked up a Samsung external DVD drive for $60. It work’s great. USB’s I find are too easy to break too unless you spend enough money on them.

    To Dale Rodgie, Dropbox is good but do you really trust Dropbox to keep a backup of all your stuff, and because it’s stores in a “CLOUD” doesn’t mean it just lingers in the air. It is actually stored in a building somewhere where someone could be looking at your stuff. Same with iCLOUD. Nothing is as secure as being on a non-electronic storage device that has no definite life expiry.

  12. Marg B says:

    I certainly do not agree with the comments made by Tony Bradley on the 27th July, 2011. One of my real loves/hobbies when using my Mac is making slideshows of holiday and family photos, editing my holiday movie footage in iMovie and burning these projects to DVD to be watched on our TV via our DVD player. My husband and I have re-lived many of our holiday memories watching our movies.

    This was one of the main reasons I initially purchased a Mac computer as they had such a good reputation for performing these tasks.

    Removing my capability to do this will take away a lot of my pleasure in using my iMac/MacBook.

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