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[comp.publish.cdrom] CD-Recordable FAQ, Part 1/4
Section - [1] Simple answers to simple questions

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Top Document: [comp.publish.cdrom] CD-Recordable FAQ, Part 1/4
Previous Document: [0] Introduction
Next Document: [2] CD Encoding
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These are intended to be brief (if somewhat incomplete) answers to basic
questions.  More detailed information can be found later in the FAQ.  For
example, section (1-5), "How much can they hold?", is answered in far
more detail in section (7-6).

Subject: [1-1] What's CD-R?  CD-RW?

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 a
standard CD player.  The disadvantage is that you can't reuse a disc.

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

All CD recorders can read CDs and CD-ROMs, just like a standard CD-ROM

Subject: [1-2] Are they identical to normal CDs?

CD-ROMs and music CDs you commonly find in stores are pressed from a
glass mold.  CD-Rs are burned with a laser.  They may look different (often
green, gold, or blue instead of silver), they're less tolerant of extreme
temperatures and sunlight, and they're more susceptible to physical damage.
Whether CD-Rs or pressed CDs last longer is difficult to answer.

While they're not physically identical, they work just the same.  Some CD
players and CD-ROM drives aren't as good at reading CD-R and CD-RW discs as
they are at reading pressed CDs, but by and large they work just fine.

By the way, you can't record on pressed discs, so you might as well throw
out all those AOL CD-ROMs you've been accumulating (or try one of the
suggestions in section (7-9)).  Buying a bunch of old CDs in the hopes of
writing new stuff onto them is a bad idea.  For similar reasons you can't
record on DVD media, not even DVD-R and DVD+RW, unless your drive explicitly
supports the DVD formats.  You have to buy blank CD-R or CD-RW media.

Subject: [1-3] Can I create new audio and data CDs?

Yes.  You can create CD-ROMs from data on your hard drive, and you can
create new audio CDs from anything you can record into a WAV or AIFF sound
file.  With an audio-only CD-Recorder, which hooks up to your stereo system
instead of your computer, you can record directly from CD, cassette, DAT,
or whatever.

The CD-ROMs you produce will play in ordinary CD-ROM drives, and the audio
CDs you create will work in your home or car CD player.

Writing to CD-Rs and CD-RWs requires a CD recorder.  You can't write CDs
with an ordinary CD-ROM drive.

One of the more popular things to do with a CD recorder is make copies
of old cassettes and LPs.  See section (3-12) for information about this.

Subject: [1-4] Can I use it to copy my CDs?

Yes, both audio and data CDs can be duplicated.  You can even create audio
CDs that are compilations of other audio CDs (perhaps a personal "best of"

Bear in mind that most CDs are protected by copyright laws.

Subject: [1-5] How much can they hold?

Commonly available blanks hold either 74 or 80 minutes of music, which works
out to 650MB and 700MB of data, respectively.

See section (7-6) for more info.

Subject: [1-6] Can I just copy files onto a CD-R like I would to a floppy?

Yes and no.  The process can be a bit more involved than that, and requires
software that (usually) comes bundled with the drive.

With "packet writing" software, and a recorder that supports it, you can
treat a CD-R or CD-RW disc like a floppy.  On a CD-R you can only write to
each part of the disc once, so deleting files doesn't free up any space.
There are other limitations as well.

With more traditional software -- necessary if you want broad compatibility
-- you usually end up writing everything to the disc all at once.
When you're doing the writing you can't interrupt the drive, and you can't
reclaim the space you've used.  If you want to write your files in smaller
bunches, you lose a fair bit of space every time you stop and start again.

Subject: [1-7] What can you tell me about DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, etc?

Nothing.  This FAQ is about CD-R and CD-RW, and only crosses over into
DVD when the two technologies rub up against each other.

To learn more about DVD, see section (2-14) and read the DVD FAQ at  For DVD recorders, check
out the Usenet newsgroup and perhaps

Subject: [1-8] Can I copy DVDs with a CD recorder?

Not directly.  CD and DVD are very different formats, so you can't write
DVDs with your CD recorder.  You may be able to convert the contents into
a lower-quality format though.  Be wary of scams.  See section (3-49).

There are devices now that can record both DVD-R and CD-R.  Those are
usually advertised as "DVD recorders", not "CD recorders".

Subject: [1-9] What's the cheapest recorder and best place to buy media?

I don't know.  I don't track prices.  There are web sites dedicated to
finding the lowest prices, and you can do a little research with a web
browser, starting perhaps with the vendors listed in section (8-3).

Subject: [1-10] Can I get step-by-step installation and use instructions?

Yes, from the manual that comes with your recorder and software.  There's
no information of this type in the FAQ because there are far too many
permutations of hardware and software, and the instructions would have to
be updated with every new release of the software.

Subject: [1-11] Can I download MP3s from the Internet and make an audio CD?

Yup.  You can download MP3s, write them to a CD, and play it in anything
that handles audio CDs.  In fact, many of the popular CD recording programs
will decode the MP3s for you.

It's also possible to take songs from a CD and convert them to MP3s for
use in an MP3 player.

Section (3-27) has more details.

Subject: [1-12] What does this term mean?  Is there a glossary?

There are some good glossaries on the web, though they're becoming
harder to find.  Here are a few.

  Adaptec (hosted by
  ProAction Media:
  Leo Pozo's Complete CD and DVD Glossary:

Subject: [1-13] Do I need "music" blanks to record music?

You only need "music" blanks if you have a "consumer" stand-alone audio
CD recorder.  If you have a recorder attached to your computer or a
"professional" deck then the "music" blanks will work no better or worse
than "data" blanks.

See section (7-17) for details.

Subject: [1-14] How do I learn more?  Is there a good book for beginners?

This FAQ contains a great deal of information, but it's geared toward
answering specific questions rather than providing a general education.
Some of the other net resources are more like a tutorial than a Q&A list,
and may provide a better starting point.

Mike Richter has a primer on CD-R at

Roxio has some good information at

If you're new to CD recording and are feeling a little lost, you may want
to buy a book on the subject.  Try one of these:

 - _CD Recordable Solutions_ by Martin C. Brown.  Software emphasis
   is on Roxio Easy CD Creator, Roxio Toast, and "cdrecord" for Linux.
 - _CD and DVD Recording for Dummies_ by Mark L. Chambers.  Has a
   section on hardware installation.  Software emphasis is on Roxio
   Easy CD Creator, Roxio Toast, and Apple iDVD.
 - _The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating Your Own CDs_ by Terry
   Ogletree  Software emphasis is on Roxio Easy CD Creator and
   NTI CD-Maker.

Sample pages, including complete tables of contents, can be found for
all of the above at

Subject: [1-15] Why is this FAQ so far out of date?

You may be reading an out-of-date copy of the FAQ.  Some sites like to make
a copy of the FAQ with the version, date, and contact information stripped
off the top (in violation of section (0-1)), which makes it hard to tell
when it was last updated.  The FAQ is updated about once a month, and the
most recent version is always available from

If you are reading the current version, either the section hasn't been
updated in a while (check the date in the section), or something has
slipped past me.

If you want news articles updated daily, try the sites in section (8-4).

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Top Document: [comp.publish.cdrom] CD-Recordable FAQ, Part 1/4
Previous Document: [0] Introduction
Next Document: [2] CD Encoding

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM