Burning CD-ROMs and DVDs (also called Writing, Recording or Toasting)
by Keith Lightbody - Facilities Consultant - last updated 5 March 2007

CD or DVD writers are great for shifting large files between computers. Blank CD-R media can be bought in Australia for 10-50 cents each (depending on volume and quality) while blank DVD-R disks can cost from 25 cents to $1 each. Storage containers (jewel cases) may also be included. CD-Rs may have multiple sessions but can not be erased. Each CD can hold over 600 MB of files. Each DVD can hold over 4.5 GB (or 4,500 MB) - they are great for large amounts of data and ideal for video projects as the playback of movies on DVD is much more reliable than movies copied to CD. Other information to consider for writing to CD or DVD includes digital photographs, backup software, Internet downloads, music, digital video, PowerPoint presentations, data, etc. However make sure that the information you wish to write is not subject to copyright. Young people need accurate information and good role models - there is currently a lot of peer pressure to ignore the copyright issue!

In 2007 dual layer DVD writers are very cheap and widely available. Media available includes rewritable CDs and DVDs. Information on a CD-RW or DVD-RW disk can be rewritten multiple times and files can be erased. These are less popular than CD-R or DVD-R but are useful for large files that are frequently changed. Many CD-ROM writer models support both CD-R and CD-RW - simply choose the appropriate blank media. Some DVD writers or 'SuperDrives' support all of CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R and DVD-RW.

Modern computers are easier to use with CD or DVD writers - most good computers now come standard with either an internal CD writer or combo CD/DVD writer. External writers can also be used.

- for maximum success do not use your computer while burning CDs or DVDs
- if your computer does not already include CD writer support choose easy to use and reliable CD writing software (e.g. Easy CD, Nero, Toast)
- use a MULTIPLE SESSION setting if you wish to write more to a CD-R later (but not readable by others)
- check that you FINALIZE the CD writing session if you want other people to be able to read your new CD
- use a felt pen to label any new CD you burn as soon as it has been verified
- it is best to check critical CDs also work in a different computer (before giving them to an important person or posting them to the other side of the world)
- kits are available for making professional CD and jewel case labels
- speeds are usually shown as (? x writable, ? x rewritable, ? x read)
- remember that the quality of the software to write the DVDs is just as important as the hardware that burns the data on to the DVD!

Possible problems:
- write at a slower speed if recording was unsuccessful
- try another new blank CD if recording was unsuccessful, alternatively check the settings or preferences
(some software will allow you to view the specifications of the blank disk)
- close all other programs while recording CD-ROMs
- optimize your hard drive to allow faster speeds
(e.g. use Speed Disk, Disk Defragmenter or other software tools for preventative system maintenance)

First published 2 January 2001. Statistics on useage of this site are gathered by Chillitech.

My email:
cumuluskeith at gmail.com