CD / DVD Burning Tips

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CD Burning / DVD Burning Tips

To avoid burning unusable, unplayable, incompatible or defective discs (a.k.a. "coasters"), we recommend the following ...

    Use high quality media.  Defects in the media will cause defects in your written disc.  Sometimes you can see physical defects in the media on the underside (where you are writing through the disc to the recording layer under the printed side, or in the middle of a DVDĪR/RW).  Physical defects include things like scratches, scuffs, stains, contamination, defects in the plastic, pinholes in the metal layer, or areas where the recording dye is missing.

    Keep your hands off the disc... or at least the underside of the disc.  Donít use a "gorilla grip".  Grab the disc by stretching your hand across the topside, so you are only touching the outer edges of the disc.  Or, place one finger in the center hole and your thumb on the outer edge.  Fingerprints or dirt on the bottom of the disc can cause distortion of the writing or reading laser.

    Keep your discs dust-free.  Store them in cases, or keep the spindle of blank discs covered.  Before you burn, take a look at the underside surface of the disc.  If you see any dust, blow it off with a gentle shot of clean, filtered compressed dry air (not by blowing on it with your mouth).  If you donít have clean compressed air, you can gently wipe off a dusty disc with a clean, dry cloth, but you run the risk of scratching or smearing the surface.

    Never wipe discs in a circle.  In general, we donít recommend trying to clean discs.  In an otherwise hopeless case, you can try some warm soapy water, without scrubbing the surface.  Rinse with warm water and dry using a compressed air or a clean cloth.

    Plan your burn - figure out what kind of disc you want to make.  If you want to make the disc playable in an audio CD player, you canít format it as a ROM (data) disc.  If you want a DVD to play in DVD Video players, you canít format it as a DVD-ROM. 

    Burn using Disc-at-Once mode whenever practical.  Track-At-Once mode is meant to help avoid buffer underruns on slower computers, but causes overlapping sectors in between tracks called "link transitions".   While this is allowed by the Orange Book (CD-R) specification, these discs are not suitable for use as a Master Disc for CD Replication facilities, due to the digital errors between tracks, or possible discontinuity of the CD timecode.  In general, use Disc-at-Once unless you have to use Track-at-Once.

   Turn off other programs, including screen savers.  If you have problems with buffer underruns, you should choose a slower writing speed.  You should also turn off virus protection software.  For the best results, donít run any other programs while you are burning.

    Keep your hard disks defragmented.  While this is a good idea for better PC performance in general, it is an especially good idea for people who do a lot of audio or video editing, or other multimedia production.  If your hard disk is highly fragmented, it will have to seek to many sections in order to read and write each file.  This will slow down the transfer rate of data to and from the hard drive, and it could cause buffer underruns when burning.  In general, donít let your hard drive fill up more than 75% to 80%.  The hard drive fills up from outside to inside - the opposite of CDs and DVDs.  This is because the transfer rate is faster at the outside, due to the greater circumference (a higher linear velocity for a given rotation speed).  So, the portion of the hard drive that is written to when your drive is nearly full is slower than the portion that is written to when it is nearly empty.  Also, a defragmenter wonít run well or wonít run at all when the drive is too full, as it needs space to work.

    While higher speed recording saves time and generally results in great discs, slower speed recordings may give you your best chance for a higher quality disc, with lower error rates.  If you think you have problems, or if you have time to burn (no pun intended), slow your burning speed down to 4X, 2X, or 1X.

   Use a felt-tip marker to write on the top of your recordable discs.  Never use a ball-point pen, or roller ball pen.  These pens could damage the recording layer, which is just beneath the printed top layer.

   Donít leave open sessions.  Unless you are storing data in increments to a recordable disc (using multi-session recording), you should "finalize" your recording.  This will allow your burning software program to write a lead-out to the end of your session.  This is necessary for compatibility with audio CD players.

   If all else fails, or to make multiple identical copies, save your project as an image file.  For instance, if you are using GEAR's CD Burning / DVD Burning Software, go to the "Project" menu, and choose "Convert volume to physical".  This physical image can be used to write discs.

∑  Keep in mind that some types of players, particularly DVD video players, can not play back certain recordable disc formats.  For more information, see the web site.

Copyright © 2004
Last modified: May 11, 2006