CD-ROM Towers & Jukeboxes

When you need a lot of reference data or documents on-line all the time, you need to go beyond what a couple of PCs can offer.

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CD-ROM drives are now very economical, especially if you don't need the fastest speeds (and who does (except game junkies)). The problem is, most of them are IDE, which is very limiting. A computer supports a maximum of two IDE controllers with a maximum of 2 drives each. That means you can have a maximum of three IDE CD-ROMs in a box. IDE doesn't support external devices (limits on cable length) so they all have to be in the computer box.

Fortunately, SCSI comes to the rescue. Unfortunately SCSI CD-ROM drives cost two to three times what IDE drives cost. Each SCSI controller can have up to 7 CD-ROMS and each box can have several SCSI controllers. Still not enough? There's ways around those limitations. Out of drive letters for more CD-ROMS? There is software that will mount CD-ROMs as subdirectories - or just use a CD-ROM server which can mount them all as subdirectories.

So here are the approaches, in order of rising capacity (and cost).

  • Find a computer or your network that has one hard disk, one CD-ROM drive and two empty 5" drive bays (not as easy as it once was). You can add two CD-ROMs to this computer.
  • Put a SCSI controller in one of your servers and slide a tower cabinet full of CD-ROM drives up to it. Assign a drive letter to each of up to 7 CD-ROM drives.
  • Have Automation Access build up a Linux/Samba CD-ROM server to your specifications. It just plugs into your network, and any number of CD-ROMs (from 1 to 24), can be mounted on a single drive letter.
  • Jukeboxes. Up to hundreds of CD-ROMs, but much greater delay since disks will often have to be fetched and put into a drive. Costly because of all the mechanical stuff involved.

©:Andrew Grygus - Automation Access - www.aaxnet.com - aax@aaxnet.com
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