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ALTERNATIVES TO FLOPPY DISKS FOR STORAGE

Many types of storage exist as alternatives to floppy disks, according to Gary S. Mihalovich, principal engineer for environmental compliance at West Valley Nuclear Services in West Valley.

Mihalovich, who works for Ensys, an engineering company based in Pittsburgh, is the publisher of the Buffalo AutoCAD User's Group Newsletter.

The first edition -- Volume 1, Number 1 -- appeared this month and is full of interesting information about the new group as well as computer-aided-design (CAD) programs.

(CAD refers to programs or systems that teach or assist in the development of projects in design-related fields like drafting, architecture and engineering).

But back to Mihalovich and his article entitled "Storage Devices," in which he noted early on that "you can spend a lot or a little, depending on what you want to do with your storage system, how often you are going to use it and how much you can afford."

He then discussed the use of tape backup systems, videotape, reel tape and laser disks.

Mihalovich revealed that he uses videotape at home as an affordable option.

"This is a little used option," he wrote, "but one I think is of importance especially to the home user. There are four companies that sell cards for between $129 and $179 that will go into your system, and with a $12 cable you can use your VCR for backing up your files.

"It is not the fastest way to store to or the fastest system to retrieve from, but it is cheap. A good quality VCR (i.e., four-head) will back up a 40 meg system on a single high quality VCR tape.

"Since most of us have VCRs," he continued, "it is a rather simple and cost-effective method to buy the card and connect the cable. You start the backup at night when you are done and retrieve the tape in the morning.

"A 20 meg backup takes about two hours. Retrieval can also take as long. The differences in the cards are based on the fact that some of the cards mark the files with start/stop marks that allow for single file retrieval, and others do not. Your VCR also has to have the 'mark' feature on it for this to work. I advise that you get this feature in the card."

Mihalovich wrote, "Welcome to Tomorrow Land" in his discussion of laser disks.

"This is the top-of-the-line storage system on the market," he stated. "Compared to other systems, this is the CD versus the LP record or cassette. It offers tremendous storage on a medium that is virtually indestructible, and retrieval and storage of data on this medium are incredibly fast."

After discussing the options, he concluded: "There are a lot of different types of units for backup and storage for your data. The key is to get what you need and what you can grow into.

"I personally prefer the laser, since I do a lot of CAD work, and the information that is becoming available for the units is such that it will be hard in four to five years to operate without one. But don't forget the most important rule: backup systems only work if you use them. So don't forget to back up. It's your data and your work."

The newsletter, which is published and distributed courtesy of West Valley Nuclear Services, listed Robert Reger as president of the group. The directors include Christopher Lanza, Sue Leous, Robert Cefalu and Wayne Cameron.

The group had its first meeting last week and appears to be off to a good start.

Personal Computers welcomes your questions and programs as well as advance notification of computer group meetings. Mail your correspondence to Lonnie Hudkins, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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