by August 4, 2005 0 comments

We have always talked about document management. In May, we did our Cover Story on better document management. But one medium that keeps getting left out is the optical disc. Over a period of time, even a minimal computer user accumulates a lot of CDs and DVDs and it becomes very difficult to find space to physically store them as well as track them. This is where something like the DiscStakka comes of use. It is very easy to use, with a single USB cable-the unit draws power directly from your computer through this cable and does not require an additional power adapter. We say ‘computer’ because you can use it with both your PC as well as notebook. With the device, you get a CD that has its driver, which you need to install. After which, you get a new icon in the ‘My Computer’ window with the title ‘OpdiTracker’. The software maintains a database of the media contained inside DiscStakka. That is, if you removed the
box from your PC and connected it elsewhere, you no longer know which discs are inside. The database has to be manually updated. A nice box pops up to allow you to do this every time you pop in a disc. You can enter a name for the disc, the type of disc (CD or DVD) and select an icon/image to be displayed for that disc. One thing you have to be careful of is inserting duplicate discs, because Stakka doesn’t track this. 

From the Properties box of the particular disc, you can capture the content (only the directory structure) of that disc. But the Stakka does not come with a CD/DVD read-head and this means the disc is ejected and you have to insert it into your PC/notebook’s optical drive to get the content. But this process is painless since OpdiTracker integrates well with Windows to do this.

OpdiTracker features a fairly good search engine that can search discs by title, content or comments you have entered. However, the content search is only as good as the file name on the CD and cannot search within any document files. In other words, it only searches for file names but does not do full text-based search. 

When discs are ejected, you have an option to enter whom it was issued to. This helps you keep a track of where your discs are. However, this information is not available at a glance in the ‘Ejected Discs’ view and you have to open the Properties box of each disc to see it. 

The Stakka comes for stacking and you can add upto five such units in a vertical stack, making up for a total of 500 CDs/DVDs. You have options (right click on the icon in the ‘My Computer’ view) to control various things, and a neat wizard helps you perform maintenance on the database and troubleshoot problems. Its reports feature shows what media is currently stored or issued out.

We faced a small problem initially with the unit because there is no label on the unit to tell you which way to insert the disc and every disc we put in would simply get stuck in the same slot inside the Stakka and the whole thing would crash. We had to then open the box to remove all the discs. A simple note somewhere indicating which way to insert the disc would be of immense help.

Bottom Line: The Stakka comes with a Rs 10,000 price tag. This price is high for casual users of CDs and DVDs, so that’s not its target market. This could, for instance, be a boon for a network administrator who needs to maintain CDs and DVDs of all the licensed software in the office. It could also be useful for organizations that back up their data on CDs and DVDs, and need a way of storing them

Sujay V Sarma

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