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Tip 5: Burning CDs or DVDs

On a regular basis we receive CDs that we can't use. Either the wrong files are on the disk or the disk is blank, or we can see that there's something on the disk, but we can't read anything off it. As frustrating as it is for the customer who sent the CD, waiting for weeks for us to receive it only to find it's useless, it's equally scary for us to call that customer back and try explain that we can't use their CD. Here's a quick guide to making and testing a CD that will work reliably.

Burning and Testing Discs

First off. you need to know you have a CD or DVD burner. The easiest way to tell this is by getting down on your hands and knees in front of the computer box on the floor next to you and reading what is printed on the front of the drive.


The drives are "backwards compatible" so if it can write then it can also read, and if it can do DVDs it can also do CDs.
ROM - means it can read only, not write
R or RW - means it can write too.



Next we need to get the right media or discs. 
How big are the files you need to put on disc? If they are less than 700MB you can use a CD. If they are between 700MB and 4GB you can use a DVD. more then 4GB - you can get fancy DVDs, but I would advise that you rather use a flash disk because whoever you're giving the disc to might not have a compatible reader.


To Burn DVDs your drive must say "DVD R" or "DVD RW" to burn CDs it must say "DVD R", "DVD RW", "Compact Disc Writable" or "Compact Disc ReWritable" .


Now that we've bought our media and we have our files - we need to burn them to disc.
If you're using Windows XP or similar, you can write CDs straight from within windows, but NOT DVDs. To write DVDs from XP you are going to need special software. 


There are many many software packages for burning discs, here I am going to cover what I believe to be the most popular, and user friendly, Nero, it comes free with most CD or DVD drives, but if you didn't get it and you want it, you're going to have to buy it. www.nero.com


If you're using Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can burn DVDs and CDs straight from within windows (It's better to choose the "Mastered" format rather than the windows live format). Other software like Nero might make things easier, but it's pretty simple to do it using the standard windows tools. Just remember to check your disc before sending it!


If you're using Nero: 
Open Nero StartSmart from your start menu.
At the top of the screen click the "Data" icon, and then choose "Make a Data CD" or "Make a Data DVD".
Next the empty "Nero Essentials" window will open, either click "Add Files" and find the files you want to burn to CD, or just drag the files onto this blank window from windows explorer.
Click "Next"
Choose a Name for the CD. Select the quantity of copies you want to burn.

  • NB! Please make sure "verify" is selected, and that "multisession" is not selected. Multisession can make things confusing. Cds are very cheap, it better to use a new one than recycle. It's also always important to verify the data after burning so you're confident nothing is corrupt or unreadable.

Click burn and put the disc in the drive when asked.
And you're done.


NB! You should always check your disc on another computer to make sure you can see the files in order to minimize the chances of frustration.

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