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CD Burning 101

Monday, November 15th, 2004 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Multimedia

Most CD writers come with some kind of CD writing software. Since this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, this is going to be a VERY basic lesson. It should help get you started though.

Not sure where your CD burning program is? It should be lurking somewhere under the Start menu, Programs (it’s not necessarily on your desktop or quick launch toolbar).

OK, assuming that you’ve discovered the location of your CD burning program, here’s how it typically works:

1. First, if you get an option for either writing manually or via a wizard, pick the wizard (you can get fancier later on).

2. OK, now you are probably going to be asked what kind of CD you want to write, either audio or data. If you’re saving files, choose data. If you’re pirating music, oops, I mean making a music CD for your own use from your own CDs, choose music.

Note that for music CDs and for stuff you want to archive, a CD-R is your best choice. If you have a CD-RW, use that for data that you may or may not want to save (they don’t always work so hot for music, at least from the standpoint that many CD players refuse to play CD-RWs).

3. OK, the next step is probably choosing files. Most of the time you’ll get a “Windows Explorer” type interface that lets you either choose files manually or just drag & drop.

4. That should be about it. At this point, you should have an option for writing the CD.

Note that most programs will let you “test” before you write the CD. The first couple times you use the CD burner, this may not be a bad idea. If you find you have no problems, this is probably a step you can safely skip from then on.

During the actual CD writing process, it’s best not to mess with your computer. Just stand 4-6 feet away and let it write the CD.


Most CD recorders record “on the fly”. If the computer is busy and can’t get the info to the CD burner fast enough, you’ll get a buffer underrun error, and your CD will be useless (well, you could make a modernistic coaster out of it I suppose).

BONUS TIP for Windows XP users:

Guess what? XP has a built in CD burning program!

Open your CD drive. Drag and drop the files you want burned into the window. You will see a message “Files ready to be written to the CD”.

When you are ready to burn, click “Write these files to the CD” in the menu to the left. It’s that easy!

You can also send files to CD purgatory by choosing a file in any window then selecting “Copy this file” from the menu to the left.


When you open the CD player, all of your files will be ready to burn.

~ Steve

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