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Trash that CD Wallet: Creative Media Storage Alternatives

Updated on August 14, 2010

I’ve got slews of CD wallets made from anything from faux-leather to nylon. Small 32 disc wallets are on hand for when I’m on the move. Giant 520 disc cases were once used to handle the bulk of my music, movie and software collection.

While amassing a collection of discs I discovered something: I hate CD wallets.

At one time CD wallets were a fresh new alternative. For people with big collections, storing all those discs in an accessible way was tedious, especially for apartment dwellers like me with limited space. Those old CD racks were “clutter central”.

CD wallets seemed great at first, however with time the flaws started to show. Firstly, it is really easy to have a nylon sleeve fold over and create an unsightly crease. The thin, clear layer of protection over each disk isn’t much more robust than paper, besides being water-proof. Secondly, organization got worse not better. It’s not practical to keep media in alphabetical order because once you so much as purchase a new disc, everything has to be restructured. Lastly, the friction created from pulling discs in and out of sleeves does create light surface scratches, despite the marketing claims of those who make media wallets.

Let’s fast-forward to the good stuff you came here for: alternative media storage reviews. It turns out there are much more than most people realize. These are not alternatives for the sake of “being different”. Each choice has a distinct advantage over CD wallets. Some have ingenious organization systems, while others provide safer protection.

Discgear Selector 100-Disc HD Disc Storage System

This offering from Discgear is my top pick for two main reasons. One, the hard shell exterior does a fine job of keeping the CD/DVDs shielded (and looks good). Two, it uses a clever method for disc retrieval and organisation of discs. Pull out the tray at the bottom to find the number corresponding to the disc you want. Slide the small tab into position under the number indicator then pull the lid open and voila.

It’s best to watch the process, rather than read about it so check out the video. For people used to big CD wallets the difference in speed of retrieval is astounding!

My only reservation with this design is the modest 100 disc storage count. Also you need a special stand to stack them vertically.

Vaultz VZ01049 4-Drawer Locking CD Storage Cabinet

At around $80 the Vaultz VZ01049 may seem pricey before you consider the fact it holds a whopping 660 discs. For the same storage capacity, you would need three Caselogic 224 disc nylon wallets, setting you back the same amount.

It works the same as a paper file system. Tabbed sheets are placed between sleeves to separate your collection alphabetically. The locking feature is unique, making it ideal for critical or private data. You can stack an indefinite number of these on a shelf (horizontally and/or vertically) to keep everything stationary.

Review-wise my only gripe with the Vaultz comes down to the build quality. The drawers are coated with a thin layer of vinyl which may peel over time and make it harder to open and close. If you are picky about fit and finish, go with the Discgear instead.

Snap-N-Store SNS01617 CD Storage Box

More often than not I need to store my discs away, rather than have them immediately accessible. Most digital devices have hard drives built-in these days. PS3 owners for example don’t need to pull out optical media quite as often, as you can store your favourite movies as digital copies. The same applies to CDs that have been converted to MP3s on your iPod.

For these occasions the Snap-N-Store is perfect. It’s cheap, looks decent and allows you to label the collection on the front of the box.

At this price, it’s tough to pick on these little black boxes. If you need inexpensive archival storage, put the Snap-N-Store on your short list.

Bellagio-Italia CD/DVD Storage Binder

While some may consider this just another CD wallet, I figured it was unique enough to include on the list. Two things that bother me about the typical media wallet are not a problem with the Bellagio-Italia. When picked up, it keeps its shape unlike nylon offerings from Case Logic. Also the book-like exterior repels dust instead of attracting it. The above benefits along with attractive looks place this among the best binders out there for storing on a bookshelf.

There are extra costs involved to be aware of. Transparent insert pages are purchased separately. A modular approach like this is nice since you can add, remove and re-organize sheets. If a page gets worn it can easily be replaced without having to scrap the entire book.

DVD and CD inserts don’t fit in the pages well so if this is what you’re looking for, look elsewhere. Style conscious collectors with an eye for classic design will love these.


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      Eric 7 years ago

      Well, for people that want something on the go while driving car and listening to cds in car stereo, I will stick with the wallet. That automatic retrieval thing would fall off seat or hit someone or just break. The wallets are more safe in car.