Optical Disc Burning Tips
This article is applicable for any optical disc. One comment is most people do not need an optical disc writer. It is just waste of money if not truly needed.


For the maximum durability of the optical drive, try
a) not to choose a combo drive (for example DVD reader with CD writer combo).
b) to have a drive dedicated for burning only and another for reading only.

Blank disc

Ask for a sample to see. The disc is of better quality if it
1) is hard to see thru under the light.
2) has clean and even burning surface (for example no glue-like film, no wave-like pattern due to imbalanced medium).
3) no pin holes on the protective paint surface.

Handle it with care. Any scratch or dirt may corrupt data during burning. It should be stored in hard case. It should not be put in disc wallet because a) it may accidentally slide out when you open the wallet and sustains scratch b) the wallet may have lint that may stick to the disc surface.

File management

For periodical backup, use a rewriteable disc.

Do not zip the files just because you want to squeeze more files into a disc. Note that more time is needed to access zip file.

Do not have mixed content. Be specific. For example do not put MP3 files into an installer disc or do not put English MP3 into a French MP3 disc.

For installer disc, write what you use the software for in a text file on the disc. To have shorter installer name, omit alphabet 'v' in front of the version number. If you always format your computer, you may want to have a disc that contains all essential software that you want to install in a fresh OS.

Change dvanced settings in folder options to show hidden files and folders, just in case any hidden file is missed out.

Before burning

the "bracketed size on disk" of the data to be burnt must be lower than the maximum capacity of the blank disc. The end edge of the writable layer can be of poorer quality than the rest of the disc. Read errors can occur at the edge of the disc. The "bracketed size on disk" is not displayed for nothing. Squeezing in more to save disc will eventually waste more discs. The "bracketed size on disk" is shown in the picture below. This bunch of files has 702,529,536 bytes bracketed size on disk, which is just a bit lower than the capacity (703 Megabytes) of a blank CD. It is a perfect example of maximum utilization of blank CD space with minimum risk of corrupted data.

size on disk 703mb

Turn off the screen saver. Set 'turn hard disk off' to never in power management option. It is also good to disable antivirus background scanning.

Configure buffer manually if the system has large installed memory.

Do not run Chinese software when burning. The disc may become corrupt.

Create autorun.inf for the major program in the disc if desired.

Put the applicable installer in for some file types such as RM, RMVB, ASF, MOV etc.

Ensure there is no TMP file. This file may fail the data verification and not able to be accessed after burning (but other files on the same disc have no problem). I have wasted some blank discs to discover this.

For some MS-DOS programs, you may want to test those programs first by turning their attribute to read-only. This is because after burning, every file on the disc will become 'Read-only' and this may affect the functionality of some MS-DOS programs.

Use a fast USB cable if the writer is external. On 27 June 2004, I tried to install Roxio from an optical disc, an error message occurred. I was using an optical drive in external casing, a black USB cable and a PCMCIA USB 2.0 card. When I changed the cable to a faster one, Roxio was installed successfully. The faster cable was transparent instead of black. Does it mean transparent cable is faster than black?

See if the disc has deformity (dots, imbalanced medium).

Do not forget to type in disc name. The disc name here does not mean the name written or printed with ink on the disc surface. It means the name of the disc typed on the screen. Correct disc name is very important for some software. If no specific name is required for the disc, write anything for identification for example date of burning or short form of software name.

Always set to the the lowest write speed. It gives peace of mind. Only a mass disc duplicator needs to burn a lot of discs fast. Go read a book etc when waiting. If a disc-R is burnt with external writer via USB 2.0, writing speed should not be more than 8X or else it may fail as shown in the picture.

buffer underrun at 8x

Select data verification option.

When burning audio disc, besides setting to low writing speed, turn burn-proof off.

After burning

For discs other than the audio disc, to know if the newly burnt disc is good, copy the whole disc onto hard drive with a slow optical drive. Example of slower drive is the one in the notebook computer. Avoid trying this on the disc-writer itself so that the compatibility of the newly burnt disc with other optical drive can be checked. If any file cannot be copied, there is a chance that the disc is corrupted. The test can be further performed using a faster optical drive. If the writer slows down during burning (indicated by mechanical sound) and some data cannot be copied in test above, the disc is corrupted. The example of error:

Cyclic redundancy checkInvalid MS-DOS function

Write a date on the disc.

Care of the disc

Keep it in a plastic envelope or plastic case (not paper envelope) to minimize the possibility of it getting wet (for example rainwater). If it gets wet, the coating around the edge may peel.

The disc must be only either in the drive or in its case. Do not leave the disc unprotected.
Posted: 2007-08-20; updated: 2015-02-18 by Ong Seng Aun.
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