Conclusion - Don't Be Sad, 'cuz Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
The Asus and the Lite On are both good drives that can handle three out of the four test discs that we threw at them. None of the drives tested were able to handle test disc 3, which used the TAGES protection scheme.
We were somewhat surprised by the Plextor drive, since the Plextor name has always been advertised as "Capable of high speed Extraction with bit-by-bit accuracy." While we still like Plextor drives, it would appear that they are not appropriate for this application of making 1:1 back ups of copy-protected CDs. It should be noted, however, that some of Plextor's other drive models might perform better than our test drive, the PX-W2410R.
It would have been a big surprise if the Philips DVD+RW DVDRW208 drive had been able to match the Asus or the Lite On, but it did not. While we didn't know what to expect from the Philips drive, we felt it was a representative indicator of what we might be able to expect from the new crop of DVD writers that are just now starting to make their way onto retail store shelves. However, with the first generation DVD+RW drives already being pulled from store shelves and replaced with newer units that support the DVD+R format, it might not be such a bad deal to consider one of the first generation DVD+RW drives. You might be able to find them at bargin-basement prices, and, depending on your purpose, it might be worth it.
Both the Asus and the Lite On drives performed well. We encountered no problems with either of these drives during our testing. We feel these drives distinguish themselves by being able to handle three of the four test discs. Clearly, they handle making routine back ups of many discs that have copy protection well. The fact that the drives failed to handle test disc 3, however, did indicate that they might not be able to handle future protection schemes without updates to either the software or the drive's firmware.
As we have pointed out, and as our test data confirms, the ability to back up software that you have purchased takes the right combination of software and hardware. If you choose the right drive, there is no reason that you should not be able to back up the majority of your software. Of course, newer titles will likely have stronger and more advanced protection schemes, but the Asus and Lite On drives that we looked at in this review offer robust feature sets that should continue to produce working back ups for some time to come.
- This article was not written to advocate or endorse unlawful copying of proprietary software data and audio CDs, but was intended to examine a licensed user's ability (or inability) to use various CDRW drives to create a back up copy of licensed software. Prior to attempting to make any back up copies of your licensed software, we suggest locating and reading the end user license agreement that is usually included in the packaging with the licensed software. The laws regarding the ability to back up licensed, proprietary software vary from country to country. If you are unsure of the laws that are applicable in the country where you live, we suggest obtaining appropriate legal advice prior to attempting to make any back up copies of your licensed software. Where not specifically prohibited by the end user license agreement, legitimate interests do exist to maintain a back up copy of licensed software for personal use and for archival purposes. It is illegal, and not a legitimate use, to share the licensed software or copies of it with others who are not licensed end users.