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CD-ROM Performance and Reliability
The subject of CD-ROM performance is in some ways, a confusing and maybe even slightly controversial one. Depending on what you are doing with your drive, the importance of its performance can range from very great to virtually nil. As with hard disks, the true performance of CD-ROM drives can be difficult to discern, and too many manufacturers obscure the issue by hiding the important performance factors behind marketing gimmicks and just plain advertising puffery.
For the most part, the performance of CD-ROM drives is based on the same performance factors that measure hard disk performance. However, CD-ROMs use different "key" performance metrics, you know, the numbers that are thrown around by manufacturers and sellers to try to convince the buyer that the drive is fast. While hard disk manufacturers try to sell you on seek time and drive RPM for example, with CD-ROM drives the "X" speed (2X, 4X, etc.) is the key metric, followed probably by transfer rate and access time.
This section takes a look at CD-ROM performance issues in detail, along with looking at reliability issues. (Reliability is much less of an issue for CD-ROMs than it is for hard disks, of course, since CDs are not used for primary data storage and don't normally contain regular user data.) I will make pretty frequent reference back to the appropriate sections in the chapter on hard disks, so that I don't have to repeat the descriptions of the various performance measures.