Weekly Poll: Do You Use an External DVD Drive?

Optical Disks are rapidly going the way of cassette tapes, zip disks, floppies, and every other form of removable storage we’ve used over the years. Yes, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray disks are still important, but they’re far from the most important thing for computer users today. We watch movies and listen to music online or download them from the iTunes store, we download programs from the App Store and games from Steam, and we backup and share files with Dropbox, iCloud, and dozens of other online backup services.

CD and DVD drives are annoying at best. They break more often than not (yes, I’ve seen over a half-dozen DVD drives break over the past several years), and keeping your disks scratch-free is an exercise in futility. Then you have to keep the disks around just in case you ever want to rip that song or install that program again.

That said, DVDs are still rather useful, if for nothing else than watching movies. Downloads are great, but when your internet connection is slow or the discount section at the store beats iTunes prices, the trusty old DVD still serves its purpose. That’s why I own a Samsung external DVD drive to use along with my MacBook Air (I know, Samsung and Apple, sitting together on my desk…).

How about you? Do you use an external DVD drive, or have you kicked disks to the curb as Apple has started dropping DVD drives from its latest Macs? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


  • Sigilist

    From day 1, between two MacBook Pros and 1 Mini, not one internal SuperDrive ever work work a squat except playing the occasional DVD or preburned CD… even after two were taken back to the so-called “genius” bar. I decided not to bother anymore, even at sticker shock. And external is now the way to go for most of the new Apple models.

    And when it comes to critical data backup, no one should depend upon only a cloud, TimeMachine, or even an external harddrive just for backup/mirroring. Burning completed projects or when a critical phase is completed is always the final tier of any sensible back schema. Hence again a dependable optical drive is a must for those who want to take protection of data (of any kind) seriously.

  • Bill

    I’m still quite a heavy user of DVD’s and CD’s, so an Apple SuperDrive is kind of essential for my MacBook Air. Both for watching films and backing up files.

    I also have a USB floppy disk drive for occasionally opening documents and spreadsheets I did 10 years ago and still not gotten round to storing on my computer or uploading to the cloud! :-)

  • Adit

    I can never dispose of my SuperDrive not only because it’s attached to my MacBook, but as a college student I solely depend on it for my entertainment needs. I don’t have a TV in my room—let alone a DVD player—so if not my MacBook I can’t think of anything else with what I can watch all those DVDs!

  • http://joshguerette.com Josh

    It’s really only Apple that’s leading the charge on retiring the optical drive. I still feel like the optical drive will be relevant for media and legacy software for the next decade. Within that time, they will most likely move to external optical drives, but there are too many CDs, DVDs, and CD/DVD-ROMs out there to justify wiping it out completely.

  • moom

    While I realize fewer people are using DVDs or CDs, it looks like well over half of your poll participants still use them. I know this isn’t true for all people, but DVDs are still more convenient and reliable for my entertainment needs, particularly in terms of quality. My attitude is that it is a format that isn’t broke, so I’ll continue to use them.

  • urbanlegend

    So 35 % don’t use a DVD drive and only occasionally ‘borrow’ it from another device via remote desktop. We have 65 % of people that find it useful and like to at least have a choice to connect an external one. One universal device to rule them all so when will it be possible to connect a phone, external HD etc. to an iPad (Surface style) ?

  • http://iynque.com iynque

    I use an external drive (from Samsung no less) because my internal drive is messed up. …someone at an in-store bag check dropped my bag the day after I got my shiny new Mac and the drive has never worked since. I have a nice big dent though.

    These days I use the external drive to digitize old DVDs. All my movies are now on a USB disk attached to my Time Capsule. If iTunes doesn’t have it, I get a DVD and rip it myself.

    Otherwise I don’t really have a need for an optical drive, and certainly not a built-in one. Music, movies, and software are all delivered and stored without using physical media. There are only occasional instances where I want a movie and it’s not there for me to buy digitally, so I buy it physically and the external DVD drive comes out.

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