Q

Even without an optical drive, data on a disc can be accessed

This week, our expert answers the question of how to get DVD data off a disc, even if the user's PC doesn't have an optical drive.

I have a notebook or desktop PC that has no optical drive. Unfortunately, someone sent me something on DVD-ROM that I need to copy to this machine, and I can't get it on there any other way because it's legacy data. What are my options?

There are several things that you can do if you find yourself in this bind.

  1. See if whoever provided you with the disc in question can take the data on it and place it somewhere where it can be downloaded. File-hosting services are quite ubiquitous and cheap; you can get an amazing amount of storage for free from most such services. For security's sake, you may want to have the other party put the data in a password-protected archive.
  2. If the other person can't do this, go find a machine attached to the same network that has an optical drive and use it to copy the files in question across the network.
  3. If there is no network, you can scare up a USB-attached drive (one that is 8GB or larger) and use a machine with an optical drive to copy the data off to the drive. Then simply attach the drive to your target machine.

If you're completely stuck, there is yet another solution: a USB-attached external optical drive, which you can hook up to the target machine. This is the most expensive solution of the bunch, since such drives can run between two and three figures, but at least then you'll have a long-term solution to such problems. You can connect the drive as needed to whatever system requires it, and then pass it along to someone else when you're finished.

This was first published in November 2013

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