Magneto-optical drives are somewhat of a dying breed. They're a highly efficient form of removable storage media, providing the easy re-writability of magnetic storage, and the reliability of the compact disc. Magneto optical disks are plastic disks with magnetic dipoles fused into them. To write to the disk, a laser is first used to melt the plastic surrounding the dipole, allowing it to move freely, then a magnet is used to reposition it, much like in regular hard drives. The disk is then read in the exact same manner as a regular hard drive. Fusing the dipole in plastic provides greater data protection...you can wave a magnet near a magneto-optical disk, but it wont affect the data on it.

Although magneto-optical drives never caught on like the Iomega Zip drive, they surpass it in many areas. MO disks can hold more than 3 times the data of a single Zip disk. MO media is rated for 30 years or more, is not susceptible to head crashes, and does not wear out like magnetic tape.

MO technology is currently used in many jukebox-style archiving setups because of its high reliability, and is also used in Sony MiniDisc players.

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