Is Disco a Toast Killer?

There is a new CD/DVD burning application for the Mac, called Disco, that has been getting a lot of attention lately. It actually looks very cool, so I started to wonder… Is Disco a Toast killer? Unfortunately, the answer is NO… at least not for me.

Now, Disco is currently in public beta, so some of these items may change in future releases.


One of the features in Disco that I was most interested in is, Spandex. It allows you to make a backup across multiple CDs and DVDs without manually breaking up your files in appropriately sized chunks first. You just select everything and hit go, and Disco is supposed to segment everything for you. Toast 7 has a similar feature. They just call it disc spanning.

Unfortunately, Toast does this well, and Disco doesn’t. Toast has the ability to span a single file… meaning if you have 1 file that won’t fit onto a single CD or DVD (like large video files), Toast can actually segment that single file onto multiple discs, and then reassemble it later. It’s extremely handy. Unfortunately, Disco can’t do this. If you try to burn a file that won’t fit onto a single disc, you just get an error message that says “Insufficient space”.

Disco can span smaller files and folders across multiple discs, but in my testing, it showed a very inefficient method of doing this. In some cases, there were actually hundreds of megs of space left on the CD it was burning when it kicked it out and asked for the next CD. It did this to maintain a certain folder structure. But, there are better ways of going about this, and Disco’s method is pretty wasteful. Depending on your folder structure, you could end up using a lot more discs than are necessary for you backups.


For my work, I need to burn a lot of hybrid discs (Mac and PC). With Toast, you have the ability to configure which files will be visible on the Mac side, and on the PC side, individually. I need this functionality because I’m building CD-based presentations that should only show the appropriate files to the corresponding platform. While Disco does burn hybrid discs, it give you no control over visibility of files. Both platforms can see all files.


The next feature I was interested in was, Discography. It’s a built in cataloging feature that will keep track of everything you burn, making it easy to go back and search for files later. Unfortunately, it isn’t working, at least not on my machine (admittedly, this is beta software). If this ends up working well, it’s a big plus for Disco. But, so far I haven’t seen any documentation on if they will be allowing you to catalog discs that have already been burned with another application. If they don’t add this capability, then this feature isn’t very useful, at least not to me. I already have hundreds of backup discs. I need them to all be cataloged under one tool, otherwise it’s just not an efficient workflow.


Disco has the potential to be a really nice application. But, currently it biggest appeal is its looks and eye-candy (it’s a beautiful app). It’s actual feature set isn’t really anything all that special. You can get much of it’s functionality through the built in tools in OS X, or through a free alternative, like Liquid CD. If you need more burning power, then Toast is still your best bet.

6 thoughts on “Is Disco a Toast Killer?”

  1. Good article… Though the question still remains: Is the average mac-user willing to pay the extra bucks for the eye-candy? My guess is that quite a few are…

  2. Great review, you must bear in mind that Disco is still a public beta as of yet. Perhaps these features are on the roadmap for Disco… but I agree with you, if they are not – they should be.

    Perhaps submit these comments to the makers? They’ve made an amazing app so far, I don’t see why they won’t be able to add more functionality at the request of the user.

  3. I have Toast 7. I went ahead and tried Disco last night, dropped a 7.8GB worth of files and clicked burn (to a DL media). It seems to take longer than Toast 7. Feature-wize, I didn’t really pay attention to. However, when I decided to burn a CD/DVD, I let it to do it in the background. So the eye-candy smoke effect is ‘useless’ for me.

  4. Perhaps an easy solution to the “hybrid disc” problem you mentioned, at least interface-wise, would be to split the main part of the window into two drop-zones when you select “hybrid” from the format menu, and of course show both lists as soon as files start getting added.

    Don’t forget that, as Richard said, Disco is still very much in development, and solutions to the issues you had with it could very well pop up in future releases. Besides, despite what its numerous taglines might indicate, I think Disco is targeted at just a slightly lower-end market than Toast anyway.

  5. Appreciate the good review. I just purchased Disco and am hoping it’s a nice alternative to Toast. I hope Leopard has a more robust burning tool when it launches. Hopefully Disco will end up worth the purchase as it has gotten a lot of hype.

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