I used to use a rubber pad but now I just use a piece of rhynowet stuck to the aluminum disc with 3M feathering adhesive. I use my dunk bucket just like I do on the grinder. I gave up on the rubber pad because mine was too thick and was rounding edges and when I stopped using it I discovered that the hard disc alone was all I needed. Now, that's not exactly right- I had to fix my disc because I had some runout that I had been hiding with the rubber pad. The keyway was also scratching my blades and the sharp corner edge of the disc would gouge if I laid the blade across the corner edge by mistake as I was laying it down. To true up the disc, break the edge, and fix the keyway issue I ran my disc slowly and rode it with a file. It went from "ting ting ting ting" to smooth and even fairly quickly. As it turned out, the dang keyway was the real culprit to my disc sander woes. Riding the center of the disc with the file took the corners off the keyway slot.
It most certainly does not cut as fast without a backing of some sort, but I don't use mine for that. Generally my disc is my "corrector" when I go too heavy handed on the belt grinder and I've got more to get rid of than I want to do with hand sanding. The disc is like my lathe. It hardly ever gets used, but when you need one nothing else will do.