CD BurningIn the past several years, Compact Disc (CD) and Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) burners have become extremely popular for archiving files, pictures, music and more recently video. The popularity of these devices has been driven by their simplicity of use, availability of recordable media and the decreasing price for optical drives and recordable media. This article will help you understand the advantages of CD and DVD.

First, lets define what CD and DVD burning is. While prerecorded CDs and DVDs are pressed from a mold at the factory, recordable CDs and DVDs are actually burned with a laser. This is the reason why the process of recording to CDs or DVDs is known as burning.

Types of Recordable Discs

There are basically two types of recordable discs – CD and DVD however there are several variations to these discs.

Recordable CDs: There are two types of recordable CDs. The first type of recordable CD is called CD-R. With this type of disc, you can burn computer files, pictures, music and video. This is also the only disc where you can burn music and the music is playable in your stereos CD player. You also can only burn information on a CD-R once. Recordable CD-R discs are normally used for archiving information or burning music to.

The second type or recordable CD is called CD-RW. You can burn the same information to a CD-RW that you can burn to a CD-R. Unfortunately, if you burn music to a CD-RW, you will not have the ability to play that music in your stereo’s CD player. Most CD-Rs and CD-RWs can store between 700MB and 800MB of information.

Recordable DVDs: There are several variations of recordable DVDs. The first is called DVD-R or DVD-RW. DVD-R was the first DVD recording format released that was compatible with standalone DVD players. The DVD-R is also a one-time burn disc. Using a DVD-R disc, you can burn approximately two hours of DVD quality video of between 6 and 7 hours of VHS quality video. The DVD-RW will allow you to burn files, music and DVD quality video multiple times. This disc also has the same time allocations as the DVD-R.

Another type of recordable DVD is DVD+R or DVD+RW. DVD+R and DVD+RW discs can burn all of the same information a DVD-R and DVD-RW can. Unfortunately, when using this type of disc for movies, on 89 percent of standalone DVD players can access the movie. A third type of recordable DVD disc the DVD-RAM. This type of recordable media will not play movies in most standalone DVD players. This type of disc is usually used for back up of your computers hard drive. And finally, the newest types of recordable DVD discs are called DVD+R DL or DVD-R DL. The DVD-R DL and DVD+R DL recordable discs have the same properties as of the DVD+R and DVD-R with one added benefit. DL discs will allow you to save nearly double the amount of information than a normal recordable disc can store. The comparison amounts are 4.37GB of data on a normal recordable DVD and 7.95GB of information on a recordable DVD DL disc.

The Basics of Burning

If you have a new PC with Windows XP or Windows Vista, burning CDs and DVDs are incredibly easy. It’s simply a matter of performing “save as” or “drag and drop” file operations like you would save files to a floppy or your computer’s hard drive. Using Windows XP, when you first insert a blank CD into your CD recorder drive, XP opens a dialog box asking you if you want to open a writable CD folder. With the folder open, you can drag and drop files and/or directories into it. Windows XP makes a copy of these files in a special staging area until it is time to burn the CD, and displays a list of the contents waiting to be recorded. If you are using Windows Vista and have multiple CD burning drives on your computer, you can use the new spanning feature to enable multiple disc burning, which can come in handy when creating backups of your entire music library, photos and files.

For further information, just read your user manual or access your computer’s help section for step-by-step instructions. If you’re working with an Apple or an older computer with Windows 95/98/2000 or ME, you’ll have to use special CD/DVD burning software. Once you have CD/DVD burning software, creating your own CDs and DVDs is an easy process, although the technology involved is quite complex. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions and observe the following tips.

1. Check your hard disk for errors and scandisk / defrag it regularly. This will help your drive send data to the CD burner at the required rate and avoid buffer underruns.
2. Free up enough hard drive space for the files you want to burn to CD. Generally, you’re going to have to copy the files to your hard drive before burning. When you are copying a disc to another disc, Windows places the data into a temporary file. If your hard drive is near capacity, you could receive errors that will not allow you to copy the disc.
3. If you discover you’re having problems burning discs without getting errors, try recording at a speed that’s slower than what your drive and media are certified for. This won’t radically slow down the burning operation.
4. When using an older PC and operating system, it’s a good idea to shut down all programs except for the ones you need to finish your task.
5. Regularly check to ensure you are using the most up-to-date drivers and patches for your CD/DVD burner for your operating system.
6. After you finish burning your CD, it’s a great idea to use a label kit to design and organize your library.

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