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What is an Optical Drive & What Does an Optical Drive Do? [Guide]

Is an optical drive required? Do you have any idea what an optical drive is? We’ll go over what an optical drive is, what it does, and whether or not you need one in this article.

For many years, an optical drive could be found in practically every computer. Slowly, the situation has changed, and now, in general, fewer and fewer devices include an optical drive (or ODD).

So, why did this happen, and is it still worthwhile to use an optical drive? To answer those two questions, we must first answer the next one: what is an optical drive?

By the end of this book, you’ll have a better understanding of what an ODD is, why they’re becoming obsolete, and whether or not you should still own one.

What Is An Optical Drive?

A device that reads and/or writes data to a disc is known as an optical drive.

An ODD employs a laser diode to receive and send electromagnetic waves to read and write data onto a disc. When your computer receives these waves, it can access the information on the disc. The computer can write files on the disc by sending these waves.

To mention a few things, an optical drive can be used to watch DVD movies, listen to music from your CD collection, install software (such as Windows), and back up vital files to a CD.

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What Types Of Optical Drives Are Available?

Optical drives come in a variety of shapes and sizes right now. Each of these optical drives has a comparable set of capabilities. They fulfil their functions in a variety of ways. There are two sorts of optical drives to be aware of before diving into their functions.


Internal and exterior ODDs are the two types. An internal optical drive, as the name suggests, is incorporated inside your computer, whereas an external optical drive is not and must be attached via an external cable.

Internal and external optical drives essentially do the same thing, despite certain variances. Discs can be read by some optical drives. Some optical drives can write to discs in addition to reading them.

You can access files stored on a DVD, for example, using a read-only ODD, but you can’t write data to a DVD.


If you have a read-and-write optical drive, you can access the files on the same DVD while also writing data to a blank disc.

Each ODD is only compatible with a limited number of disc formats. CDs and DVDs are compatible with almost every optical drive on the market today.

You can use a normal optical drive to play music CDs and DVD movies if you have them. Some ODDs can read and write CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs. Optical drives that support the Blu-Ray format are more expensive than ordinary optical drives because Blu-Ray is a data-dense format that necessitates more complex hardware.

What Can You Do With An Optical Drive?

A basic optical drive opens up a world of possibilities.

You have the option of watching movies. You have the option of listening to music. On a burnt CD or DVD, you can access the files. You can use your computer to duplicate the contents of those discs. Important files can be backed up on a CD or DVD. Years later, you’ll be able to access those files.

Each of those options, as well as a few more, are available with a Blu-ray disc-compatible optical drive. Blu-ray movies are available for viewing. Large files can be backed up to Blu-Ray discs. You can also use your computer to transfer files from those discs.

Why Are ODDs Becoming Obsolete?

Optical drives were once thought to be a must-have item. Almost every laptop and pre-built PC included one.

However, things have changed dramatically in the previous ten years. Fewer people buy optical drives for their desktop PC configurations, and fewer laptops have one built in.

Optical drives are no longer included with several gaming consoles, such as the Xbox Series S and PS5 Digital Edition.

Many people have switched to digital services for movies, television, music, and video games as internet connections have improved. Large media files may now be stored on a hard drive considerably more easily than before, thanks to the low cost of storage space. Because ODDs are bulky and less common, many laptop and computer makers opt to leave them off of their systems to save money.

Or, to put it another way, everything that an optical drive can do can now be done just as simply over the internet.

Why Should You Still Use An Optical Drive?

Returning to our first question, what is an optical drive? will help us answer this one. It’s a piece of computer hardware that can read and/or write different types of discs.

You can use an ODD to access the contents of CDs and DVDs if you possess them.

You can watch DVD movies and shows, listen to music, install outdated video games, install hardware drivers using the frequently included driver disc, and install Windows directly from the DVD by doing so.

These are only a few of the options provided by an optical drive and the formats it supports.

You may utilise your ODD to create physical backups of your most important files because CDs and DVDs are a stable storage media.

Aside from those considerations, a basic optical drive is usually extremely inexpensive. In reality, an external or internal optical drive may be purchased for under $20.

So, while optical drives are a little out of date, they still provide a lot of value and are well worth acquiring and using if you appreciate what they have to offer.

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