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6/14/06 ~ CD vs CD-R vs CD-RW vs DVD vs DVD-R, etc

If you find yourself standing in the computer store, wondering what the difference is between CD, CDR, CDRW, etc., wonder no more. This article will help you decipher the acronyms.

CD vs CD-R vs CD-RW vs DVD vs DVD-R, etc.
CD players will play CDs and most CD-Rs and CD-RWs. You can not record onto CDs using a CD player.

CD-R is short for "CD-Recordable". Recordable CDs are WORM (Write Once, Read Multiple) media that work just like standard CDs. The advantage of CD-R over other types of optical media is that you can use the discs with most standard CD players. The disadvantage is that you can not reuse a disc. All CD recorders can read CDs, just like a standard CD drive.

A related technology called CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) allows you to erase discs and reuse them, but the CD-RW media does not work in all players. CD-RW drives are able to write both CD-R and CD-RW discs.

DVD players use a completely different disk technology from CDs. DVDs at this time are used primarily for movies and games. You can not write DVDs with your CD recorder.

DVD-R can copy information to DVD media.
There are many different DVD formats: DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, and DVD-RAM. Make sure that your writer and reader support compatible formats.

There is no known way to write to a specific medium with a specific writer and be sure that it can be read on all readers.

Quality and reliability
The quality of the recordable disc media makes a big difference. One type of recordable CD disc may produce a problem while another may not. Different brands may work in one drive and not in a different one. Usually, purchasing a brand name is recommended. But media quality varies, vendors are constantly switching sources, a vendor may manufacture in different locations, and basic materials may vary. Experiment with different brands of recordable discs until you find one that works reliably for you before you buy a lot.

If you are producing non-archival music CDs, disseminating data for the short term, or simply making quick copies to send to friends, an inexpensive spindle may be more economical, even if you get a few bad discs per batch.

Be sure that your media and your recorder are compatible. For example, if you buy 6x CD-RS, but your CD burner records at up to 8x, you can not record at more than 6x. The speed rating of a disc, the top speed at which you can reliably write data, is straightforward. Use discs that match or exceed the top speed of your drive, such as 24x media for a 24x drive or 48x media for a 32x drive. You can always use higher rated media for a slower-rated drive, but trying to use slower-rated media in a higher rated drive could lead to problems. One exception to this rule is that older CD-RW discs that are rated at 1x or 2x cannot be written in drives which carry the "High Speed" or "Ultra Speed" CD-RW logo. These drives must have discs rated at 4x speed or higher, or carry the "Multi-speed" logo.

The specifications for the length of an audio CD is just over 74 minutes or 650 MB. There are also 80-minute discs are also common. 80-minute discs push the basic CD specifications to the limit. Some manufacturers sell 99-minute discs. These discs have compromised the basic CD specifications and may not be readable in other drives or consumer CD players. The track pitch may have been reduced or the track extends closer to the outside edge of the disc or both. If the track pitch has been reduced, there could be tracking or audible noise problems throughout the disc. If the track extends closer to the outer edge, there could be problems near the end of the discs. Some players may not read these discs at all.

Designer colors such as red, blue, purple and black are purely cosmetic, having no affect at all on the quality or compatibility of a disc.

Audio Vs data
There are discs, specifically for audio. There is no difference in quality or composition between "data" blanks and "music" blanks, except for a flag that indicates which one it is. If you have a CD-RW drive, use CD-R media when creating music CDs. CD-R media is inexpensive and will play in home, car, and portable CD players. Only use CD-RW media to make CDs capable of having file rewritten and then removed later.

Adding an adhesive label to a disc can make it look more "professional", but you have to be careful. The adhesives on some labels can dissolve the discs protective coating. Asymmetric labels can throw the disc out of balance, causing read problems, and labels not designed for CDs might bubble or peel off when subjected to long periods of heat.

If you want to write directly onto the surface of a disc, you want to use a felt tip pen or pens that are approved for use on unlabeled CD-R media. The ink in some kinds of pens may damage the top coating of the disc. Never use a pencil, a ball-point, or another hard-tipped pen to write onto a CD-R, because the top layer of the disc will gouge easily on most media. Never use a solvent-based "permanent" marker on a CD-R; it can eat through the protective coating and destroy the disc. If the prospect makes you nervous, just write in the clear plastic area near the hub or only use discs with a printable top surface.

Thank you for choosing Next I.T.'s Next Desk Services. It is our priority to be your first line of support. Whatever your support needs may be, our team is available for troubleshooting and answering any questions that you may have. For those of you who have not taken advantage of our services, please be assured that no question or concern is too simple, or too complicated. Give us a call! You will be glad you did.

Thank you!

Your NeXt Desk Support Team



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