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[comp.publish.cdrom] CD-Recordable FAQ, Part 4/4

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Archive-name: cdrom/cd-recordable/part4
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Last-modified: 2008/10/09
Version: 2.71

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Subject: [6] Software (2005/07/24) On the PC, DOS and all versions of Windows (from 3.1) work just fine. On the Macintosh, you should use System 7.x or later. UNIX variants, such as FreeBSD and Linux, work, but can be more difficult to use for neophytes. The support in recent versions of Linux is pretty good. Subject: [6-1] Which software should I use? (2002/01/04) Generally speaking, you get what you pay for: the more expensive software has more features. However, this isn't always the case, and the software with more features isn't necessarily more useful or more reliable. There's little standardization among CD-R drive manufacturers, so not all devices are supported by all programs. This has changed somewhat with the development of the MMC specification, but deviations from the standard are not uncommon. On the PC, if you're new to CD-R, start with Ahead's Nero (6-1-28) or Roxio's Easy CD Creator Deluxe (6-1-26). If you just want to "back up" CD-ROMs try CloneCD, and if you want good "backups" and lots of flexbility when creating audio CDs go with CDRWIN. If you want to write to a disc as if it were a floppy, try Roxio's DirectCD (included with ECDC; see section (6-4-1)) or Nero InCD (6-4-7). On the Mac, go with Toast (6-1-4) or Discribe (6-1-29). UNIX users probably ought to start with cdrecord (6-1-20) or CDRDAO (6-1-47). Most of the software listed below is for PC running Windows. Use the search feature of your newsreader or web browser to look for "Mac" or "Linux" if that's what you're interested in. Subject: [6-1-1] Adaptec - Easy-CD, Easy-CD Pro, and Easy-CD Pro MM ("ECD") (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT) [ These have been superseded by Easy CD Creator Deluxe (6-1-26). ] The software was developed by a company called Incat, which was purchased by Adaptec in 1995. Easy-CD Pro 95 v1.2 seems to have trouble writing umlauts and other non-ASCII characters in Joliet mode. Romeo format will work, but the files will only be accessible from Windows. Subject: [6-1-2] Adaptec - CD-Creator ("CDC") (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT3.x) [ This has been superseded by Easy CD Creator Deluxe (6-1-26). ] The software was developed by Corel, and published by them until it was purchased by Adaptec in mid-1996. It was combined with Easy-CD Pro to form Easy CD Creator. The package includes drivers that allow several popular CD-R drives to be used as general-purpose CD readers under Win95. It can also create VideoCD and PhotoCD discs. Version 2.x is a considerable improvement over version 1.x. Versions older than 2.01.079 had some problems inserting "knacks" into audio CDs. Subject: [6-1-3] Gear Software - GEAR Pro (2001/12/18) Platforms supported: DOS, Windows (95, NT, 2K), UNIX See GEAR Software was Elektroson until early 1999. It was a subsidiary of Command Software Systems, Inc. until May 2001, when it became a free-standing company. Full-featured CD recording. Includes unattended CD copying and batch file support. Subject: [6-1-4] Roxio - Toast (2005/05/31) Platforms supported: Mac See The software was developed by Miles GmbH and published by Astarte until Miles was purchased by Adaptec in early 1997. In 2000 Adaptec spun the CD recording software group off into Roxio. In August 2004 Roxio's consumer software division was purchased by Sonic Solutions. This program is recommended for making Mac/PC hybrids, and is the most popular package for the Mac. It supports HFS, ISO-9660, and Joliet. At one time it was sold by an OEM as "CD-It All". The "Toast DVD" upgrade enables creation of DVD-Video and DVD-ROM. Software updates are available on the web site. Subject: [6-1-5] CeQuadrat - WinOnCD (1999/09/12) Platforms supported: Windows See (CeQuadrat was purchased by Adaptec in July 1999, and became part of Roxio.) WinOnCD is the full version. WinOnCD ToGo is a "lite" version that comes bundled with some drives. Can create VideoCD discs and bootable CD-ROMs. Subject: [6-1-6] Young Minds, Inc. - CD Studio+ (2001/12/18) Platforms supported: Windows (NT), UNIX (Linux, others) See CD recording system with a Java interface. The web site has information about specialized solutions for things like recording over Novell networks and working with CD-R jukeboxes. Subject: [6-1-7] Golden Hawk Technology (Jeff Arnold) - CDRWIN (2000/05/25) Platforms supported: DOS, Windows (95, NT) See See (german distributor) (CDRWIN is the name of the Win95 version. I don't believe the DOS versions have an official name.) Contains sophisticated CD-ROM duplication programs, track-at-once and disc-at-once utilities for sound and data, and other goodies. Some of the DOS-based software is free, the rest is relatively inexpensive. This comes highly recommended for creating audio CDs, because it gives you a great deal of control over the creation process. Updates for the software are available on the net. The "vcache" tweak from section (4-1-2) is strongly recommended for users of CDRWIN to avoid buffer underruns. If you use a Yamaha 200/400 and get "Logical Unit Not Ready" errors, try disabling the data caching. Independent cue sheet editors are available from and Subject: [6-1-8] Optical Media International - QuickTOPiX CD (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT), Mac See [ product has been discontinued ] Subject: [6-1-9] Creative Digital Research - CDR Publisher (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT), UNIX See (a/k/a Can create Mac/PC/UNIX hybrid CDs (i.e. CDs that work on all three platforms), as well as bootable CDs for PCs and UNIX. If you need a CD that works (and looks good) on Win95, MacOS, and UNIX, this is the program for you. The Solaris version should be available through Sun's Catalyst program; see Subject: [6-1-10] mkisofs (2000/09/10) Platforms supported: Windows, UNIX (many) Sources (in "cdrtools" package) at This allows creation of an ISO-9660 filesystem on disk or tape, which can then be copied to a CD-R. It can create discs with Joliet, Rock Ridge, and HFS filenames, and can be configured to ignore certain facets of the ISO standard (like maximum directory depth). Recent versions support multisession and several kinds of bootable discs. This can be used in conjunction with "cdrecord" (6-1-20) to write discs under UNIX. For other platforms, chances are good that your favorite CD recording application is able to write ISO-9660 images. (If not, there's probably a "cdrecord" port for your platform of choice.) See for a "HOWTO" guide on writing CDs under Linux. Subject: [6-1-11] Asimware Innovations - MasterISO (2002/04/07) Platforms supported: Amiga See [ product discontinued ] (Asimware was purchased by Iomega in March 2001.) Full-featured CD-R mastering package for the Amiga. Subject: [6-1-12] Newtech Infosystems, Inc. (NTI) - CD-Maker (2002/02/27) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See (demo available) Full-featured CD creation and duplication software. If you get "illegal request, invalid block address" complaints reading from an ATAPI CD-ROM drive, your ASPI layer may be corrupted. See the instructions in Subject: [6-1-13] Cirrus Technology/Unite - CDMaker (1998/09/05) Platforms supported: OS/2 See (demo available) Drag-and-drop CD creation, written specifically for OS/2. Allows creation of CDs with an HPFS (OS/2) filesystem. [ product has been discontinued? ] Subject: [6-1-14] Hohner Midia - Red Roaster (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows See [web site gone?] Windows-based CD-R software that has some nice features for creating audio discs, including the ability to edit the P-Q subcode data. The "" on the web site is actually a demo of Samplitude Master from SEKD Software. Samplitude Master is a fancy audio editing program that - among other things - allows you to create ISO-9660 images suitable for writing to a CD-R, but the demo package doesn't include software to do the actual writing (the full package includes PoINT CDaudio). Subject: [6-1-15] Dataware Technologies - CD Author (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: DOS See See CD creation software aimed at the corporate user. Comes with libraries for creating custom applications. Subject: [6-1-16] CreamWare - Triple DAT (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95) See A hardware and software combo for professional-quality sound editing, this now includes an audio CD creation tool. Subject: [6-1-17] MicroTech - MasterMaker (2004/07/07) Platforms supported: DOS See [ product discontinued ] Subject: [6-1-18] Angela Schmidt & Patrick Ohly - MakeCD (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Amiga See CD-R creation software that supports the "AS" extensions (which preserve the Amiga protection bits and file comments). You need AmiCDFS, CacheCDFS, AsimCDFS, or something similar to make use of the "AS" extensions. AmiCDFS is (was?) available from Look for amicdfs*.lha, where '*' is a version number. Subject: [6-1-19] Liquid Audio Inc. - Liquid Player (2000/08/05) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K), Mac See A music player that includes the ability to record CDs. You can preview music and purchase it over the Internet. Subject: [6-1-20] Jrg Schilling - cdrecord (2005/07/10) Platforms supported: UNIX (several), Windows (95, NT), Mac, OS/2, BeOS, VMS, ... See A collection of freeware software and drivers for burning CDs under an impressive variety of operating systems. Source code is available. See the web site for an up-to-date list of features and supported systems. (Note the package is now called "cdrtools".) Supports DVD-R as well. There are a variety of front-ends for cdrecord. One of them, X-CD-Roast, is listed in section (6-1-40). This is commonly used with "mkisofs" (6-1-10) for creating ISO images. Subject: [6-1-21] Prassi Software - CD Rep and CD Right (2003/07/08) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) [ product has been discontinued ] CD mastering bundled with SCSI Rep, which allows you to write to more than one SCSI CD-R at once. See also section (3-17). Subject: [6-1-22] Zittware - CDMaster32 (2000/08/05) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See (shareware) Specializes in recording audio CDs from MP3s. Subject: [6-1-23] Dieter Baron and Armin Obersteiner - CD Tools (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Amiga See Free CD writing tools, with source code. Subject: [6-1-24] PoINT - CDwrite (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95) See Full-featured CD recording. Subject: [6-1-25] PoINT - CDaudio Plus (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95) See Creates audio CDs, with full control over P/Q subcodes. Subject: [6-1-26] Roxio - Easy Media Creator (was Easy CD Creator Deluxe "ECDC") (2005/11/15) Platforms supported: Windows See [ Adaptec spun off Roxio as a subsidiary in 2000. All of Adaptec's CD recording software products were moved to the Roxio label. In August 2004, Roxio's consumer software division was purchased by Sonic Solutions. ] This was created in the 1996 as Adaptec/Roxio's all-singing, all-dancing combination of Adaptec Easy-CD Pro and Corel CD Creator. It combined the best features of both and cost less. Recent versions were renamed to Easy Media Creator to reflect an emphasis shift toward managing music, photos, and video. Some notes on older versions: ECDC up to v3.5a has a "two-second truncation" problem, where extracted audio tracks end up missing two seconds. This doesn't happen for every system or every disc, but is 100% reproducible in situations where it arises. Version 3.01d fixed the problem for some users but not others. CD Copier Deluxe in ECDC v3.x does *not* do disc-at-once recording when copying from disc-to-disc (the web site is right, the manual is wrong), but ECDC itself does. If you want to make a disc-to-disc copy with disc-at-once recording, you should set up ECDC to copy the disc without buffering to the hard drive. ECDC will refuse to use DAO if your writer doesn't support it reliably or the source drive is too slow. Versions 3.x and later of ECDC can be used to write to 80-minute discs. For v4.x and earlier, don't use the "wizard", and ignore any complaints about being over the maximum time. Uninstalling ECDC v4.02c up to and including v5.01 may disrupt access to CD-ROM drives under WinXP and Win2K. See section (4-49) for details. See for an opinionated piece about the trials and tribulations of ECDC and WinXP/Win2K. Subject: [6-1-27] Padus - DiscJuggler (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See (demo available) Allows you to write to more than one SCSI CD-R at a time. See also section (3-17). Subject: [6-1-28] Ahead Software - Nero (2002/03/18) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT, 2K) See (demo available) See Full-featured CD creation and duplication. Fairly popular among the Internet community. Supports the "variable-gap track-at-once" feature of drives like the Sony 926S and Mitsumi CR-2801TE when creating CDs (but not when copying them?). Comes with "MultiMounter", which appears to be similar to Roxio's "Session Selector". NOTE: Nero may not work correctly if DirectCD is installed. You may need to uninstall DirectCD to get Nero to work. (This was especially true with older versions of the software back in 1999, but may still be the case now.) NOTE: Some shrink-wrapped copies of Nero that were originally bundled with CD recorders have been turning up at flea markets and computer shows. These may only support the device that they were initially sold with, but there is no such indication on the disc or packaging. Subject: [6-1-29] CharisMac Engineering - Discribe (1999/02/26) Platforms supported: Mac See CD creation for the Mac. Supports creation of hybrid CDs and disc-at-once recording. This is a popular alternative to Toast for the Mac. Subject: [6-1-30] Istvn Dsa - DFY$VMSCD (1998/04/06) Platform supported: VMS (VAX, Alpha) See Construct CD-ROMs under VMS. Subject: [6-1-31] RSJ Software - RSJ CD Writer (2001/05/10) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, OS/2) See CD writing with support for ISO-9660, Joliet, and Rock Ridge extensions. Uses a buffering scheme to allow drive-letter access without packet writing. Subject: [6-1-32] James Pearson - mkhybrid (2000/05/05) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT), UNIX See This is a mkisofs variant that creates discs in ISO-9660 format with Joliet, Rock Ridge, and HFS extensions. HFS files can be encoded as an HFS "hybrid" or using Apple's ISO-9660 extensions. [ This has been merged with "mkisofs" and "cdrecord", section (6-1-20). ] Subject: [6-1-33] JVC - Personal Archiver Plus (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT), Mac See See JVC's CD-R software, frequently bundled with JVC recorders. Includes "CD-R Extensions" packet-writing software for Win31/Win95 (also known as "FloppyCD"?). Subject: [6-1-34] Roxio - Jam (2001/01/04) Platforms supported: Mac See An updated version of Astarte's "CD-DA" package, intended for creating professional audio CDs. Subject: [6-1-35] Pinnacle Systems - InstantCD/DVD (was VOB) (2002/12/02) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See [ VOB was purchased by Pinnacle Systems, Inc. in October 2002. Previous sites were and ] A package that includes: - InstantCD Wizard: full-featured CD recording software - MultiCopy: fancy disc copier that can skip ranges and patch on the fly - InstantWrite: packet writing, see (6-4-5) - InstantBackup: backup software based on InstantWrite - InstantVideo: VideoCD and DVD creation - InstantMusic: arrange and record audio CDs - InstantDrive: CD-ROM drive emulator - WebXtension: save Internet data on CD Subject: [6-1-36] Sony - CD Architect (2003/10/14) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See Fancy audio CD creation, including PQ editing and cross-fades. The original product was popular among people who regularly pre-master discs for mass production. The product was discontinued in 1998 or so, but returned to the market in late 2002. Sonic Foundry's product line was purchased by Sony Pictures Digital in August 2003. Subject: [6-1-37] Eberhard Heuser-Hofmann - CDWRITE (1998/05/10) Platforms supported: VMS (VAX, Alpha) See Get Construct and write CD-ROMs from VMS. Subject: [6-1-38] CeQuadrat - JustAudio! (1998/06/14) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See (CeQuadrat was purchased by Adaptec in July 1999, and is now part of Roxio.) Audio CD creation. Includes de-noise program for data digitized from tapes or records, and a layout tool for creating booklets, inlay cards, or labels. Subject: [6-1-39] Digidesign - MasterList CD (1998/08/16) Platforms supported: Mac See Full-featured audio CD creation. Subject: [6-1-40] Thomas Niederreiter - X-CD-Roast (1998/10/18) Platforms supported: UNIX (Linux) See This is a Tcl/Tk/Tix front-end for mkisofs and cdrecord. Subject: [6-1-41] Jesper Pedersen - BurnIT (1998/10/12) Platforms supported: UNIX See This is a Java front-end for cdrecord, mkisofs and cdda2wav. Subject: [6-1-42] Jens Fangmeier - Feurio! (2002/06/24) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See Audio CD creation. (As of mid-2002, Feurio! was also being sold on the Ahead web site.) Subject: [6-1-43] Iomega - HotBurn (2001/06/25) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT4, 2K, XP), Mac See See (Asimware Innovations was purchased by Iomega in March 2001.) Looks to be a solid data and audio recording program. Subject: [6-1-44] DARTECH, Inc - DART CD-Recorder (1998/11/18) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See (demo available) Audio CD creation with wide support for both analog and digital sources. Subject: [6-1-45] Interactive Information R&D - CDEveryWhere (1999/02/07) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT), Mac, UNIX (Linux, Solaris) See This is a Java application that creates hybrid disc images with Rock Ridge, Joliet, and HFS support. The image can be written with any application that can handle ISO-9660 disc images. Subject: [6-1-46] DnS Development - BurnIt (1999/04/11) Platforms supported: Amiga See Simple but powerful recording for the Amiga. [ no longer listed on their web site? ] Subject: [6-1-47] Andreas Mller - CDRDAO (2002/12/02) Platforms supported: UNIX (several), Windows (cygwin), OS/2 See Linux application that does disc-at-once audio recording. Good for copying many types of discs. Source code is available. See for a GUI front-end. Subject: [6-1-48] Tracer Technologies - (various) (1999/06/30) Platforms supported: UNIX (several) See Business-oriented CD-recordable applications, ranging from single user CD recording to data migration and archiving with CD and DVD jukeboxes. Subject: [6-1-49] SlySoft - CloneCD (2003/10/02) Platforms supported: Windows (95, ME, NT4, 2K, XP) See (demo available) [ Originally developed by Elaborate Bytes in Germany (formerly, now, the software was sold to SlySoft in September 2003. Apparently the folks at Elaborate Bytes were concerned about legal action after the EU started moving toward laws similar to the USA's DMCA. ] CD copier that can copy just about anything. Check the web site for a list of supported hardware. There are some "unofficial" CloneCD discussion forums that may be of interest when trying to copy something tricky: (english & dutch) (english) (german) Subject: [6-1-50] IgD - FireBurner (2001/12/08) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, Linux) See (shareware) Simple disc recording software that takes image files (BIN/CUE, ISO, WAV) as input and writes a disc. The "binchunker" program, which converts to and from BIN/CUE files, is incorporated. Can record audio CDs from MP3s. Subject: [6-1-51] Jodian Systems & Software - CDWRITE (1999/12/19) Platforms supported: Windows (NT, NT-Alpha), UNIX (several) See Somewhat limited recording software available for a broad range of platforms. Subject: [6-1-52] Erik Deppe - CD+G Creator (1999/12/31) Platforms supported: Windows (95) See Create your own CD+G discs. Subject: [6-1-53] Micro-Magic - CD Composer (2000/01/24) Platforms supported: Windows See Audio CD creation. Extracts audio from CDs, MP3s, LPs (via a sound card), and allows you to construct custom CDs. Also copies CD-ROMs and writes ISO images. Subject: [6-1-54] Earjam, Inc. - Earjam IMP (2000/02/07) Platforms supported: Windows See An "Internet Music Player" that can record to CD-R. Subject: [6-1-55] Emagic - Waveburner (2000/03/06) Platforms supported: Mac See Full-featured audio CD creation for the Mac. Can do cross-fades and other fancy tricks. Subject: [6-1-56] Zy2000 - MP3 CD Maker (2000/05/25) Platforms supported: Windows (95) See (shareware) Recording application dedicated to writing MP3 songs onto CD-R. Subject: [6-1-57] Integral Research - Speedy-CD (2000/08/05) Platforms supported: PC See Fast CD-R duplication, with support for up to 6 CD recorders running simultaneously. Subject: [6-1-58] Desernet Broadband Media - Net-Burner and MP3-Burner (2000/08/05) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See (demo available) Net-Burner lets you wrap up data into a self-extracting -- and self-recording -- downloadable file. For example, Music Net-Burner lets you wrap up MP3s, jewel case art, and a track listing into a single executable file. When run, the program unpacks itself and writes to a CD recorder. It does on-the-fly MP3 decoding, supports overburning, and can do disc-at-once recording. Data Net-Burner does the same sort of thing for CD-ROMs. MP3-Burner creates audio CDs from MP3 files. Subject: [6-1-59] Stomp, Inc. - Click 'N Burn (2000/09/21) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See Full-featured CD recording. Creates CDs and CD-ROMs, with all the trimmings. Subject: [6-1-60] Steinberg Media Technologies - Clean! plus (2000/11/10) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See Audio restoration and CD recording. Designed specifically for transferring music from analog sources such as cassette tapes and vinyl records. Subject: [6-1-61] Enreach - I-Author for VCD/SVCD (2000/11/13) Platforms supported: Windows? See See Authoring tools for VCD and SVCD. Subject: [6-1-62] VSO Software - Blindread/Blindwrite (2002/11/12) Platforms supported: Windows See Disc copier; does "raw" reads and writes. Can be useful for analyzing copy-protected discs. Subject: [6-1-63] Microsoft - Windows XP (2001/08/16) Platforms supported: Windows (XP) See Windows XP has built-in support for recording to CD-R and CD-RW. See for an overview. Subject: [6-1-64] An Chen Computers - CD Mate (2001/12/19) Platforms supported: Windows (95, ME, NT, 2K, XP) See (demo available) See Full-featured data and audio CD recording software. Competes with CloneCD and Nero. Subject: [6-1-65] E-Soft - Alcohol (2005/01/11) Platforms supported: Windows See Disc copying and drive emulation software. Often recommended for difficult copy-protected discs. Subject: [6-1-66] Stomp Inc. - RecordNow MAX (2002/10/15) Platforms supported: Windows (95, ME, NT4, 2K, XP) See Fancy CD recording intended to compete directly against Easy CD Creator. Supports DVD+R. Includes "Drive Letter Access" packet writing software for CD-RW drives. Subject: [6-1-67] James Mieczkowski - Cheetah CD Burner (2003/03/25) Platforms supported: Winodws (95, ME, NT4, 2K, XP) See Straightforward CD recording. Subject: [6-1-68] Blaze Audio - RipEditBurn (2003/07/08) Platforms supported: Windows (98, ME, 2K, XP) See Audio CD extraction and recording software, designed for people moving music between CDs and MP3 files. Subject: [6-1-69] Acoustica, Inc. - MP3 CD Burner (2003/11/29) Platforms supported: Windows (98, NT, 2K, XP) See (demo available) Burns music and MP3 CDs/DVDs from MP3 and WMA files. Includes a music library manager and a CD label maker. Subject: [6-1-70] MagicISO, Inc. - MagicISO (2004/04/15) Platforms supported: Windows See (demo available) Creates, manipulates, and records disc images in a variety of formats. Can create DVDs and bootable CD-ROMs. Subject: [6-1-71] Simone Tasselli - Burn4Free (2004/04/15) Platforms supported: Windows See (freeware) Create audio and data CDs. Subject: [6-1-72] Sonic Solutions - Record Now! (2004/08/10) Platforms supported: Windows (98, 2K, XP) See CD copying and mastering. Packet-writing tools and DVD software are also available; check the web site. Subject: [6-1-73] Freeridecoding - BurnAgain (2005/07/23) Platforms supported: Mac (OS X) See (shareware) Writes files to CD-R or CD-RW, specializing in multi-session recording for archiving data. Subject: [6-1-74] PowerKaraoke - Power CD+G Burner, PowerKaraoke (2006/02/26) Platforms supported: Windows See (demo available) Create CD+G and karaoke discs. A number of tools for creating and playing discs are available on the site. Subject: [6-2] What other useful software is there? (1998/04/06) Software related to CD-Rs that isn't a direct part of the premastering process. Subject: [6-2-1] Optical Media International - Disc-to-Disk (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT), Mac See [ product has been discontinued ] Subject: [6-2-2] Gilles Vollant - WinImage (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows See Among other things, this lets you list and extract the contents of an ISO-9660 image. Subject: [6-2-3] Asimware Innovations - AsimCDFS (2001/06/25) Platforms supported: Amiga See (Asimware was purchased by Iomega in March 2001.) Allows the Amiga to read High Sierra, Mac HFS, and ISO-9660 (including Rock Ridge extensions). [ product has been discontinued? ] Subject: [6-2-4] Steven Grimm - WorkMan (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: UNIX See In addition to its primary role as an audio CD player for UNIX workstations, version 1.4 (still in beta) allows SPARC/Solaris2.4+ workstations to extract digital audio into ".au" files. Subject: [6-2-5] Cyberdyne Software - CD Worx (2001/03/03) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See Full-featured extraction and manipulation of audio data from CDs. Subject: [6-2-6] Arrowkey - CD-R Diagnostic (2002/08/01) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See (or [ products formerly published under "Paul Crowley CD-ROM Productions" ] Does a number of useful things, such as displaying the contents of the TOC, listing the full volume label, analyzing the media, and recovering data from "lost" sessions and hosed UDF discs. This software is widely recommended for recovering data from otherwise unusable discs. Subject: [6-2-7] DC Software Design - CDRCue Cuesheet Editor (1998/09/14) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See Cue sheet editor for CDRWIN. Subject: [6-2-8] Astarte - CD-Copy (2000/09/11) Platforms supported: Mac See ? Half of a CD copier. CD-Copy has a lot of features for reading CDs as images, but is unable to write them (presumably you're supposed to use Toast for that). [ Doesn't appear to be published by anymore. Doesn't seem to be part of the Roxio lineup, either. I'm told the intellectual property was purchased by Apple in 1999 or 2000. ] Subject: [6-2-9] Frank Wolf - CDR Media Code Identifier (2004/08/31) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See ? Attempts to identify the manufacturer of a CD-R disc. Reports the code from the ATIP region, which tells you who made the stamper used to create the blanks, and what kind of dye is in use. Shows the exact length of a disc. This information may or may not be accurate; see section (2-33) for an explanation. Development has been discontinued. It can still be found available for download though. One such location:,fid,22912,00.asp Subject: [6-2-10] Logiciels & Services Duhem - MacImage (2002/08/01) Platforms supported: Windows See Allows you to build CD-ROM images on a PC that are compatible with the Macintosh. Can create hybrid HFS/ISO-9660 images, ISO-9660 with Apple extension images, and pure HFS images (using the virtual filesystem image feature). The virtual HFS partition feature allows you to create Macintosh volumes in a file on the PC, and manipulate files there. Subject: [6-2-11] Erik Deppe - CD Speed 2000 (2002/01/09) Platforms supported: Windows See See Tests various facets of CD-ROM drive performance, including DAE ability. Tables of results are available on the web site. [ There are references to "Nero CD Speed 2000" on the web site, suggesting that the software is now related to Ahead? ] Subject: [6-2-12] Andre Wiethoff - Exact Audio Copy (EAC) (2000/01/04) Platforms supported: Windows See There are many programs for extracting digital audio, but EAC has become the de facto standard application for doing so. On some CD-ROM drives it can guarantee extraction of 100% perfect audio, and on most others it does as well or better than anything else available. Subject: [6-2-13] Earle F. Philhower, III - cdrLabel (2000/08/19) Platforms supported: Windows See Generates and maintains catalogs of CD and CD-ROM data, including song lists and file directories. Makes it easy to print label cards. Subject: [6-2-14] Adobe - Audition (formerly Cool Edit) (2003/09/08) Platforms supported: Windows See [ In May 2003, Syntrillium Software's assets were purchased by Adobe Corp. Three months later, one of the best shareware sound editing programs ever written -- Cool Edit -- was officially discontinued when Cool Edit Pro was re-released as Adobe Audition. ] High-end, fairly expensive audio editing software. Subject: [6-2-15] Elwin Oost - Burn to the Brim (2002/04/28) Platforms supported: Windows See Given a large collection of files, BTTB finds the arrangement that gets the most files onto the fewest discs. Subject: [6-2-16] Mike Looijmans - CDWave (2001/08/28) Platforms supported: Windows See Useful utility for breaking a large WAV file into several smaller ones. Comes in handy when you're working with audio recorded from a cassette or LP and want to insert track markers. Subject: [6-2-17] ECI - DriveEasy (2001/09/26) Platforms supported: Windows See System diagnostic program, useful for making sure that your system and CD recorder are working correctly. It includes some utilities for getting technical information on your drive and on CDs. Subject: [6-2-18] Jackie Franck - Audiograbber (2001/10/03) Platforms supported: Windows See (demo available) See Fancy audio extraction application. Can rip to MP3 and normalize sound levels across multiple tracks. Subject: [6-2-19] High Criteria - Total Recorder (2001/11/01) Platforms supported: Windows See An audio capture program that looks like a sound card. After you install this software, you can tell Windows to play sound through it. A copy of the sound will be recorded to disk, making this an easy way to get perfect copies of audio from "protected" formats (e.g. encrypted Windows Media Player files or DVD-ROM). Subject: [6-2-20] Smart Projects - IsoBuster (2006/09/04) Platforms supported: Windows See (shareware) CD and DVD data recovery software. Works with all CD/DVD formats. Can create and manipulate disc images in a wide variety of formats (both generic and product-specific). See the web site for a full list. Many features are available without the shareware registration. Subject: [6-2-21] GoldWave Inc. - GoldWave (2003/11/29) Platforms supported: Windows See (shareware) Full-featured audio editor, suitable for manipulating CD audio data. Includes CD ripper and click/pop reduction filters. Subject: [6-2-22] Naltech - CD Data Rescue (2004/01/12) Platforms supported: Windows (98/ME/NT/2K/XP) See (trial version available) Recovers data from damaged CD-ROMs. Can retrieve data from "deleted" files. Subject: [6-2-23] Jufsoft - BadCopy Pro (2004/01/12) Platforms supported: Windows See (trial version available) Recovers data from damaged CD-ROMs, floppy disks, and more. Subject: [6-2-24] CDRoller Soft Co. - CDRoller (2004/01/12) Platforms supported: Windows (95/ME/2K/XP) See (trial version available) Recovers data from damaged CD-ROMs, floppy disks, and more. Subject: [6-2-25] FlexiMusic - Wave Editor (2004/08/31) Platforms supported: Windows See (trial version available) Inexpensive sound editor with a good set of features. Subject: [6-2-26] Nic Wilson - DVD Info Pro (2004/08/31) Platforms supported: Windows (95/ME/NT/2K/XP) See (adware until registered) Provides information on CD and DVD recorders and media. Subject: [6-2-27] Audacity (2004/11/12) Platforms supported: Windows (98/ME/2K/XP), Mac OS X, Linux See (freeware) Free sound editor with lots of fancy features. Subject: [6-3] What is packet writing (a/k/a DLA - Drive Letter Access)? (2002/05/28) Packet writing is an alternative to writing entire tracks or discs. It allows you to write much smaller chunks, down to the level of individual files. With track-at-once recording there's a maximum of 99 tracks per disc, a minimum track length of 300 blocks, and an additional 150 blocks of overhead for run-in, run-out, pregap, and linking. Packet writing allows many writes per track, with only 7 blocks of overhead per write (4 for run-in, 2 for run-out, and 1 for link). Since it's possible to write packets that are small enough to fit entirely in the CD recorder's buffer, the risk of buffer underruns can be eliminated. There are some problems with packet writing, mostly due to the inability of older CD-ROM drives to deal with the gaps between packets. CD-ROM drives can become confused if they read into the gap, a problem complicated by read-ahead optimizations on some models. There are two basic "philosophies" behind packet writing, fixed-size and variable-size. With fixed-size packets, the CD recorder writes data whenever it has a full packet. All packets in the same track must have the same size. It's relatively easy for a CD-ROM drive to skip over the inter-packet gaps if it knows where the gaps are ahead of time, but there's a large installed base of CD-ROM drives that aren't that smart. With variable-sized packets, the CD-ROM drive can't tell ahead of time where the gaps are. The problem can be avoided by laying out the filesystem in such a way that the drive never tries to read from the gaps. One approach is to put each file into a single packet, but if the size of a file exceeds the size of the CD recorder write buffer, the risk of buffer underruns returns. An alternative is to write the file in several pieces, but the Level 1 ISO-9660 filesystem supported by most operating systems doesn't support this. Replacing the "redirector" (e.g. MSCDEX) with one that supports Level 3 ISO-9660 solves the problem. Files on packet-written discs are typically stored in a UDF filesystem. When the session is closed -- necessary for the disc to be readable on anything but a CD recorder -- some implementations will wrap an ISO-9660 filesystem around the disc to make the files accessible on systems without a UDF reader. When DirectCD for Windows closes a disc in ISO-9660 format, it uses Level 3 multi-extent files. Support for Level 3 ISO-9660 will likely be added to future OSs, but for the time being it can be difficult to share such discs between machines that aren't running Win95/NT. DirectCD for Mac OS leaves the disc in UDF format, so reading the discs requires a UDF driver. See section (6-3-1) for more information on UDF, including a web site where free UDF drivers can be downloaded. (If you have DirectCD, you don't need to download the drivers separately; you would only need them if you didn't own packet-writing software and wanted to read discs created by somebody who did.) Writing to a CD-R with packets will be slower than writing with standard premastering software. Since the expected application for packet writing is "drive letter access" rather than creating an entire CD, this should not be an issue for most people. Audio CDs can't be written with packets. You really don't want to defragment a CD-RW written with fixed packets. The disc is deliberately fragmented to avoid "wearing out" sectors on the disc. Some early CD recorders were only be able to write to a disc the first 99 times it was placed in the drive, because the recorder has to calibrate the laser power before writing, and there are only 99 spaces for doing the test writes. Sony and Philips have developed ways to work around the problem, such as remembering the last 10 pieces of media seen, so this doesn't cause problems on current drives. Information on packet-writing software follows. It is in general a bad idea to have more than one installed at the same time. Subject: [6-3-1] What's UDF? (2003/12/21) UDF is an acronym for the humbly-named "Universal Disk Format". It's a specification for a filesystem intended for use on write-once and rewritable media. It's currently being used for DVD and some of the CD-R/CD-RW packet writing software (e.g. Roxio DirectCD). There have been four important releases of the specification: - 1.02: first release; primarily useful for read-only media like DVD-ROM. - 1.5: includes defect management, useful for CD-R and CD-RW. - 2.0: adds support for Stream Files, Access Control Lists, and power calibration. - 2.01: adds support for Real Time Files. - 2.5: adds Metadata Partition. MacOS 8.1 and Win98 support UDF v1.02. Windows XP supports 1.02, 1.5, and 2.01. To read UDF-format packet-written CD-R and CD-RW discs, you need UDF v1.5 support. Roxio has made free UDF 1.5 drivers available for Mac and Windows on their web site (check there for a list of supported CD-ROM drives). Also, if you insert a disc formatted with DirectCD v3.0 or later into a Windows machine without a UDF reader, you will be offered the opportunity to install one. Download free UDF 1.5 drivers for MacOS and Win95/Win98/WinNT4 from (The Windows driver appears to have moved; look at the bottom of The technical specifications for the UDF filesystem can be found at UDF is based on the ISO/IEC 13346 standard, now ECMA-167, available from You can find Linux source code under development at Philips has made UDF verification software available (source and binaries) at Subject: [6-3-2] Do I want to do packet writing? (2003/01/13) It depends. If your primary interests are writing audio CDs, duplicating CD-ROMs (for backups, right?), or creating CD-ROMs full of files that you can give to others, packet writing won't help you much. Discs written by programs like Roxio DirectCD aren't usable in a CD-ROM reader until they're finalized. Finalized discs are in ISO-9660 format, but it's ISO-9660 Level 3, which not all operating systems can interpret (Win9x and WinNT can, with appropriate "redirectors" installed). On the other hand, if you want to be able to add small amounts of data over time, it may be extremely useful. You can read the unfinalized discs on your system, so the data isn't inaccessible; it just can't be accessed on other systems that aren't also set up to do packet writing. You can overwrite files on CD-R media (the old data is still there, but the newer directory entry points to the new file), something that was very costly with multisession writes. And, of course, the risk of a buffer underrun is almost nonexistent. Most backup software (by which I mean backing up your system, not "backing up" the latest game) uses packet writing. This can affect your ability to read backups from some operating systems, notably MS-DOS. See section (4-52). As with CD-RW, it doesn't hurt to buy a recorder that supports it, but you're probably not missing much if you have one without it. (As of the year 2002, nearly all new recorders support both.) Now, a reality check: sometimes packet-written discs "go funny". This could be because the CD-RW media is wearing out, or because the computer locked up when some data was pending but not yet written, or because the software has bugs. Whatever the case, DO NOT write your only copy of valuable data to a packet-written disc and keep adding stuff to it. If you do, there is a good chance you will be making a contribution to the people listed in section (6-2-6). The format that has proven the least reliable of all CD formats is packet-written CD-RW media (which almost always uses fixed-length packets). Writing to a CD-R with variable-length packets is a big step up, especially since nothing is ever really erased from a CD-R. If it's important data, write it to a CD-R (with packet writing or, better yet, conventional disc-at-once recording) and then close the disc and don't write to it again. Having had our reality check, I can point out that a HUGE number of people use packet writing every day, for the most part without even realizing it, and relatively few suffer for doing so. It's important to understand the risks and act appropriately. Subject: [6-4] What packet writing software should I use? (2003/03/06) There is no clear winner, but most current offerings are pretty good. Subject: [6-4-1] Roxio - Drag-to-Disc (a/k/a DirectCD) (2005/11/15) Platforms supported: Windows, Mac See This used to be sold as a separate product. As of November 2005 it wasn't listed on their web site, and it's hard to tell what products, if any, it is still included with. UDF-based packet writing software. Check the compatibility list on the web site to see if it works with your CD recorder and your firmware revision level. DirectCD for Windows versions older than 1.01 conflicted with some scanners. Be sure to check the Roxio web site for the latest version. Note that DirectCD for Windows 1.x and 2.x may not support the same set of drives on all operating systems; for example, 2.0 only worked with drives capable of using CD-RW media. If you're running WinNT, you need 2.x. NOTE: There seems to be a great deal of misinformation about how to disable DirectCD for Windows. See section (3-45) for more information. One other note about DirectCD for Windows: in some situations you may have trouble reinstalling it. If so, try removing (or renaming) scsi1hlp.vxd, usually found in c:\windows\system\iosubsys\. Uninstalling DirectCD v3.01 or v3.01c may disable access to CD-ROM drives under WinXP and Win2K. See section (4-49) for details. Subject: [6-4-2] CeQuadrat - PacketCD (1999/03/07) Platforms supported: Windows See (CeQuadrat was purchased by Adaptec in July 1999, and is now part of Roxio.) UDF-based packet writing software. Recent versions offer transparent data compression, potentially increasing the disc capacity. Subject: [6-4-3] SmartStorage - SmartCD for Recording (2003/07/08) Platforms supported: Windows (NT) [ product has been discontinued ] Packet writing software intended for shared environments. Subject: [6-4-4] Gutenberg Systems - FloppyCD (2003/07/08) Platforms supported: Windows (95) [ product has been discontinued ] Originally released by JVC as "CD-R Extensions". Does variable-sized packet writing that leaves you with an ISO-9660 Level 1 CD-ROM (constrast to the ISO-9660 Level 3 disc produced by some other packet writing solutions). This should make it possible to read the finalized CDs on operating systems other than Win95/NT. Subject: [6-4-5] Pinnacle Systems - InstantWrite (was VOB) (2001/01/04) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See UDF packet-writing software. Supports DVD-RAM and drag-and-drop audio CD creation. Compatible with discs created by DirectCD. Comes with a backup package called InstantBackup. Subject: [6-4-6] Prassi - abCD (2003/07/08) Platforms supported: Windows (95) [ product has been discontinued ] Packet writing for CD-RW. Appears to be less ambitious but far simpler than its competitors. Read-compatible with Roxio DirectCD (i.e. you can read DirectCD discs if you have this installed). Also sold under the Sony label. Subject: [6-4-7] Ahead - InCD (2001/07/26) Platforms supported: Windows (95, 2K) See UDF packet-writing software. Only works with CD-RW discs. Subject: [6-4-8] Oak Technologies - SimpliCD ReWrite (2001/12/18) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See Part of the SimpliCD package. UDF packet-writing for CD-RW discs. [ Unclear if this is related to the SimpliCD product formerly published by Young Minds Inc. ] Subject: [6-4-9] NewTech Infosystems, Inc. (NTI) - File CD (2002/02/27) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See (demo available) UDF packet-writing software. Uses Windows-Explorer-style interface. Only works with CD-RW discs. Subject: [6-4-10] Veritas - DLA (Drive Letter Access) (2002/11/15) Platforms supported: Windows (98, 2K) See (for HP DLA) Most users will encounter this as HP DLA, sold with a Hewlett-Packard drive. Some documentation is available from Subject: [6-4-11] BHA - B's CLiP (2004/12/10) Platforms supported: Windows See UDF packet writing software for rewritable CDs and DVDs. Subject: [6-5] Can I intermix different packet-writing programs? (2003/03/06) In general, no. Do not assume that two packet-writing programs will coexist peacefully on the same system. Most won't. You may need to disable the CD recording features built into WinXP to get packet software to work. Do not assume that discs written by one program will be readable by another. Many developers have deviated from the UDF standard when writing discs, so attempting to start a disc with one program and finish it with another is likely to end badly. It might work, it might appear to work but quietly fail, or it might fail outright. Subject: [6-6] I want to write my own CD recording software (2004/08/16) Source code and ready-to-link libraries are available, but the more useful products tend to be more expensive. The library authors are usually CD-R software publishers themselves, and aren't about to put themselves out of business. Expect to sign a strict licensing agreement, if they agree to do business at all. Source code for some of the packages (notably Joerg Schilling's "CD Record" and "CD Tools" by Dieter Baron and Armin Obersteiner) is available. See sections (6-1-20) and (6-1-23). ASPI developer documentation and SDKs used to be available from, but seems to have vanished. See for an introduction, and for what's left of the Adaptec documentation. Visit for a nice introduction to controlling a CD recorder. The basic idea is to issue SCSI commands directly to the drive, via some standard interface. Windows has ASPI (courtesy Adaptec), WinNT and later have SPTI, and other platforms have their own approaches. ASPI is well documented (though you have to search for the docs), SPTI is not (but it's very straightforward, and some sample code exists). Descriptions of the SCSI commands can be found in the SCSI-2 and MMC specifications at, e.g.,, and Some useful samples can be found here: Subject: [6-6-1] PoINT - CDarchive SDK (1998/04/06) Platforms supported: Windows, OS/2 See API and SCSI device drivers. Subject: [6-6-2] Golden Hawk Technology (Jeff Arnold) (1998/06/22) Platforms supported: PC See C++ class libraries. See the web site for licensing information. Subject: [6-6-3] Gear Software - GEAR.wrks (2001/12/18) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP), UNIX (Linux, others) See 16-bit and 32-bit APIs for CD-R/CD-RW, DVD, tape drives, and SCSI hard disks. Subject: [6-6-4] VOB - CD-Wizard SDK (2003/11/21) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See See [ It looks like this may have gone away when Pinnacle Systems purchased VOB in October 2002. ] COM/ActiveX interface to CD writing functions. Not cheap. Subject: [6-6-5] Dialog Medien - ACDwrite.OCX (1999/12/19) Platforms supported: Windows See (demo available) ActiveX/OCX interface for writing audio CDs. Develop audio CD recording applications with Visual Basic or other ActiveX environments. Subject: [6-6-6] ECI - The Engine (2001/09/26) Platforms supported: Windows See A utility that can be integrated into other software to provide "one-click" recording. Subject: [6-6-7] NUGROOVZ - CDWriterXP (2007/10/16) Platforms supported: Windows (95, ME, XP, NT, 2K) See [ This product line was taken over by NuMedia Soft in January 2003. It continued as CDWriterPro, eventually replaced by NMSDVD Burning SDK (see section (6-6-9)). ] Subject: [6-6-8] Ashampoo - DiscForge Plug & Burn (2003/11/29) Platforms supported: Windows (95, ME, 2K, XP) See See C library for adding recording features to applications. Supports audio and data CDs and CD copying. User interface code included. Subject: [6-6-9] NuMedia Soft - NMSDVD Burning SDK (2007/10/16) Platforms supported: Windows (95, ME, NT, 2K+) See CD/DVD recording SDK available in three forms: ActiveX, .NET, and C++. Subject: [6-6-10] Sonic Solutions - AuthorScript (2004/08/10) Platforms supported: Windows See A collection of APIs for CD and DVD authoring. Subject: [6-7] What software is available for doing backups? (2002/01/27) See section (3-20) for commentary. Remember, if you're backing up less than 650MB of data and don't need fancy features like incremental backups, you don't *need* special backup software. Just write the files to a CD-R and put it in a safe place. For fast, occasional backups of a disk partition or an entire disk, Norton Ghost is a good way to go for PCs. If you have a second disk or multiple partitions it can be a useful way to back up your C: drive before installing something that could muck up your system (like the drivers for a Creative Labs sound card). If you want full-featured incremental and remote backups, Veritas Backup Exec is probably a good place to start. Subject: [6-7-1] Adaptec - Easy-CD Backup (1998/06/14) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95) See [ no longer available ] Backup software designed to store data on CD-Rs. Allows incremental backups via multi-session writes, but backups aren't allowed to span multiple volumes. Doesn't support long filenames. Subject: [6-7-2] D.J. Murdoch - DOSLFNBK (1998/06/14) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See Saves the long filenames, so that you can use backup software that only knows about short "8.3" filenames. This is an alternative to the LFNBK program that comes with Win95. Old versions are free, new versions are inexpensive. Subject: [6-7-3] Dantz - Retrospect (1999/12/18) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT), Mac See Dantz's Retrospect 4.0 can make use of CD-R and CD-RW by using packet writing. Useful for backing up multiple machines on a network. Subject: [6-7-4] Veritas - Backup Exec (2000/04/23) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See This was originally adapted for use with CD-R by Seagate Software, who appeared to have developed it out of Arcada Backup Exec. The Seagate Network and Storage Management Group was sold to Veritas in June 1999. The consumer "Backup Exec Desktop 98" version works with Win95 and Win98. Separate versions are available for WinNT Workstation and WinNT Server. Subject: [6-7-5] Symantec - Norton Ghost (2002/01/27) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP), OS/2 See (Looks like Ghost Software got purchased by Symantec.) Ghost was created as a way to create boilerplate software installations and distribute them. It currently works rather well as a way of backing up an entire disk partition quickly. A "ghosted" image file can be spanned across multiple CD-Rs, and the backup set can be a bootable CD-ROM. Individual files can be extracted from the .GHO image files from a Windows application. Subject: [6-7-6] PowerQuest - Drive Image Special Edition for CD-R (2001/03/03) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT4, 2K), DOS See Drive Image 4.0 is a hard drive cloning program that includes CD-R/CD-RW support. Images may span multiple discs. It comes with "DataKeeper" to make automatic backups easier. Subject: [6-7-7] Centered Systems - Second Copy (1999/03/07) Platforms supported: Windows (3.1, 95, NT) See (shareware) Second Copy maintains a duplicate of your files on a different system or removable media. It runs in the background and constantly updates the backup. Useful for maintaining an archive of a few files; not meant for full-system backups. Subject: [6-7-8] FileWare - FileSync (1999/03/07) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See (shareware) Similar to Second Copy, but with a different feature set. Subject: [6-7-9] Novastor - NovaDISK (1999/06/05) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See Backup software that is "CD-R aware". Requires drive-letter access to the drive, which has to be provided by another program (e.g. DirectCD). Subject: [6-7-10] Roxio - Take Two (2001/01/04) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See Image-based backup software. Included with Easy CD Creator 4. Subject: [6-7-11] NTI - Backup NOW! (2002/02/27) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K, XP) See Full backup software for CD-R/CD-RW. Includes data compression and automatically spans multiple discs. Supports file-level and image-level backups. Subject: [6-7-12] CeQuadrat - BackMeUp LT (2000/04/17) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT) See (CeQuadrat was purchased by Adaptec in July 1999, and is now part of Roxio.) Backup software, included as part of WinOnCD v3.7. Subject: [6-7-13] Duncan Amplification - disk2disk (2000/09/21) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See (demo available) Inexpensive backup software for Windows. Requires drive-letter access to backup media, i.e. you need to have DirectCD or PacketCD installed. Does incremental and differential backups, and handles disc spanning. Subject: [6-7-14] Pinnacle Systems - InstantBackup (was VOB) (2001/01/04) Platforms supported: Windows (95, NT, 2K) See Packet-based backup software, included with VOB's InstantCD (6-1-35). [ I can't see info for it on the Pinnacle Systems page. ] Subject: [6-7-15] Microsoft - Backup (2002/01/03) Platforms supported: Windows See Right click on a hard drive icon, select "Properties", click on the "Tools" tab, and then click on "Backup". With a packet-writing program installed, this should work for simple tasks. Subject: [6-7-15] Portlock Software - Storage Manager (2002/05/28) Platforms supported: Novell See Supports access to various formats (CD-R, CD-RW, DVD+RW) via Novell NetWare. Useful for backups and disaster recovery. Subject: [6-7-16] Willow Creek Software - Backup To CD-RW (2003/05/23) Platforms supported: Windows See Easy-to-use software for backing up data files. Supports file compression and spanning of large files across multiple discs. You must have packet-writing software already installed in your system. Subject: [6-7-17] TeraByte Unlimited - Image for Windows (2003/06/05) Platforms supported: Windows (98, NT, 2K, XP) See (shareware) Hard drive partition imaging software. Creates block-by-block image snapshots to recordable CD and DVD formats. Subject: [6-8] How do I get customer support for bundled recording software? (2000/03/30) When you buy retail software, you are paying for a license to use the program. Generally you are also paying for customer support that is provided at little or no additional charge. When you buy a drive with bundled software, you are buying a version of the program for which customer support fees have not been paid. The software was provided to the hardware vendor at a reduced cost, so that the price of the package you buy is lower than the price of the drive plus the price of the software. If you go to the store and buy the latest version of Fubar Software's Disc Writing Thing, you should contact Fubar Software for customer support. If you buy a new Frobozzco 12X SkyWriter that comes bundled with Disc Writing Thing, you will most likely be expected to contact Frobozzco with any problems you may have, because Fubar Software isn't being compensated for support costs.
Subject: [7] Media (1998/04/06) This section covers recordable CD media. Subject: [7-1] What kinds of media are there? (2004/02/17) The basic building blocks of CD-R media are organic dye and a reflective layer. The dye types currently in use are: - cyanine dye, which is cyan blue in color (hence the name); - phthalocyanine and "advanced" phthalocyanine dye, which have a faint aqua tinge; - metalized azo, which is dark blue. In addition, Kodak has patented a "formazan" dye, which is light green. This has been reported to be a hybrid of cyanine and phthalocyanine. The reflective layer is either a silver alloy, the exact composition of which is proprietary, or 24K gold. Aluminum isn't used in CD-R media because the metal reacts with the dyes. Discs come in many different colors. The color you see is determined by the color of the reflective layer (gold or silver) and the color of the dye (light blue, dark blue, green, or colorless). For example, combining a gold reflective layer with cyanine (blue) dye results in a disc that is gold on the label side and green on the writing side. Many people have jumped to the conclusion that "silver" discs are made with pure silver, and have attempted to speculate on the relative reflectivity and lifespan of the media based on that assumption. According to one source, silver is susceptible to corrosion when exposed to sulfur dioxide (a common air pollutant), so manufacturers use alloys of silver to inhibit corrosion. Taiyo Yuden produced the original gold/green CDs, which were used during the development of CD-R standards. Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals invented the process for gold/gold CDs. Mitsubishi's NCC subsidiary developed the metalized azo dye. Silver/blue CD-Rs, manufactured with a process patented by Verbatim, first became widely available in 1996. According to the Ricoh web site, the silver/silver "Platinum" discs, based on "advanced phthalocyanine dye", were introduced by them in 1997. They didn't really appear on the market until mid-1998 though. Kodak Japan holds the patent on formazan dye. One reason why there are multiple formulations is that the materials and processes for each are patented. If a new vendor wants to get into the CD-R market, they have to come up with a new combination of materials that conforms to the Orange Book specifications. Some CDs have an extra coating (e.g. Kodak's "Infoguard") that makes the CD more scratch-resistant, but doesn't affect the way information is stored. The top (label) side of the CD is the part to be most concerned about, since that's where the data lives, and it's easy to damage on a CD-R. Applying a full circular CD label will help prevent scratches. An EMedia Professional article discussing the composition of the newer discs is online at CD-RW discs have an entirely different composition. The data side (opposite the label side) is a dark silvery gray that is difficult to describe. Subject: [7-2] Does the media matter? (2001/07/16) Yes. There are four factors to consider: (1) Does it work with your recorder? (2) Which CD readers can use it? (3) How long does it last before it starts to decay? (4) What's the typical BLER (BLock Error Rate) for the media? Some audio CD players (like the ones you'd find in a car stereo) have worked successfully with one brand of media but not another. There's no "best" kind, other than what works the best for you. Some people have found brand X CD-R units work well with media type Y, while other people with the same unit have had different results. Recording a disc at 4x may make it unreadable on some drives, even though a disc recorded at 2x on the same drive works fine. To top it all off, someone observed that discs burned with one brand of CD-R weren't readable in cheap CD-ROM drives, even though the same kind of media burned in a different device worked fine. The performance of any piece of media is always a combination of the disc, the drive that recorded it, and the drive that reads it. A number of specific discoveries have been posted to Usenet, but none of them are conclusive. Many people have reported that Kenwood CD players don't deal with CD-Rs very well, while Alpine units play nearly everything. However, things change as product lines evolve over time. Some users have found that the *quality* of audio recordings can vary depending on the media. Whatever the case, if you find that CD-Rs don't sound as good as the originals, it's worthwhile to try a different kind of media or a different player. See section (4-18) for other ideas. If you want to see what media test results look like, take a look at One final comment: while there are clearly defined standards for CD-R media, there are no such standards for CD and CD-ROM drives -- other than that they be able to read CDs. It is possible for media to be within allowed tolerances, but be unreadable by a CD-ROM drive that can handle pressed discs without trouble. All you can do in this sort of situation is find a better-quality CD or CD-ROM drive, or switch to a brand of media whose characteristics are on the other side of the tolerance zone. Subject: [7-3] Who manufactures CD-R media? (2000/09/03) Taiyo Yuden made the first "green" CDs. They are now manufactured by TDK, Ricoh, Kodak, and probably several others as well. Mitsui Toatsu Chemicals (MTC) made the first "gold" CDs. They are now manufactured by Kodak and possibly others as well. Verbatim made the first "silver/blue" CDs. Most CD-R brands (e.g. Yamaha and Sony) are actually made by a handful of major disc manufacturers. Attempting to keep track of who makes what is a difficult proposition at best, since new manufacturing plants are being built, and resellers can switch vendors. See section (2-33) for notes about identifying the source of a CD-R. Subject: [7-4] Which kind of media should I use? (2003/07/11) There is no "best" media for all recorders. You can't tell how well a disc will work just by looking at it; the only way to know is to put it in *your* recorder, write a disc, then put it in *your* reader and try it. Statements to the effect that "dark green" is better than "light green" are absurd. Some discs are more translucent than others, but that doesn't matter: they only have to reflect light in the 780nm wavelength, not the entire visible spectrum. See (7-19). It's probably a good idea to start by selecting media that is certified for your recorder's desired write speed. See section (3-31) for some other remarks about recording speed. Speed considerations are more important for CD-RW than CD-R. Many drives refuse to record at speeds higher than the disc is rated for. On top of that, there are "ultra speed +" blanks (for 32x recording), "ultra speed" blanks (for 8x-24x), "high speed" blanks (for 4x-10x) and "standard" blanks (for 1x-4x). The faster blanks are labeled with a "High Speed CD-RW" or "Ultra Speed CD-RW" logo, and will not work in older drives. The Orange Book standard was written based on the original "green" cyanine discs from Taiyo Yuden. Cyanine dye is more forgiving of marginal read/write power variations than "gold" phthalocyanine dye, making them easier to read on some drives. On the other hand, phthalocyanine is less sensitive to sunlight and UV radiation, suggesting that they would last longer under adverse conditions. Manufacturers of phthalocyanine-based media claim it has a longer lifespan and will work better in higher speed recording than cyanine discs. See for some notes on low-level differences between media types. There is no advantage to using expensive "audio CD-Rs" or "music blanks". There is no difference in quality between consumer audio blanks and standard blanks from a given manufacturer. If you have a consumer audio CD recorder, you simply have no other choice. There is no way to "convert" a standard blank into a consumer audio blank. See section (5-12) for notes on how you can trick certain recorders into accepting standard blanks. Trying samples of blanks is strongly recommended before you make a major purchase. Remember to try them in your reader as well as your writer; they may not be so useful if you can't read them in your normal CD-ROM drive. Maxell's CD-R media earned a miserable reputation on Usenet. In April '97 Maxell announced reformulated media that seemed to work better than the previous ones. It appears they may no longer make their own media. Some good technical information is available from In particular, "Are green CD-R discs better than gold or blue ones?" at BLER measurements for a variety of recorders and media is in a big table on See also "Is There a CD-R Media Problem?" by Katherine Cochrane, originally published in the Feb '96 issue of CD-ROM Professional. Subject: [7-4-1] What's the best brand of media? (2003/07/08) As noted in (7-4), there is no guarantee that brand X will be the absolute best in recorder Y. However, some brands are recommended more often than others. It does pay to be brand-conscious. Brands most often recommended: Mitsui, Kodak, Taiyo Yuden, and TDK. Sometimes Pioneer and Ricoh. It appears that HP, Philips, Sony, Yamaha, and Fuji use these manufacturers for most of their disks. (Kodak no longer manufactures media.) Brands that are often trashed: Maxell, Verbatim, Memorex, Ritek, Hotan, Princo, Gigastorage, Lead Data, Fornet, CMC Magnetics. Many "no-name" bulk CD-Rs are one of these brands. Sometimes a particular line of discs from a particular manufacturer or reseller will be better than others from the same company. For example, Verbatim DataLifePlus discs are recognized as pretty good, but Verbatim ValuLife are seen as being of much lower quality. Sometimes company names change. For example, in June 2003 Mitsui Advanced Media was purchased from Mitsui Chemicals by Computer Support Italcard (CSI) of Italy to form MAM-A, Inc. The country of manufacture may also be significant. Some manufacturers maintain plants in different countries, and don't always maintain the same level of quality. In humid tropical climates, care must be taken to find discs that stand up to the weather. One user reported that the data layer on Sony CDQ 74CN discs began cracking after a couple of months in an otherwise sheltered environment (e.g. no direct sunlight). Mitsubishi CD-R 700 and Melody 80 Platinum discs fared much better. Subject: [7-5] How long do CD-Rs and CD-RWs last? (2005/04/14) CD-RWs are expected to last about 25 years under ideal conditions (i.e. you write it once and then leave it alone). Repeated rewrites will accelerate this. In general, CD-RW media isn't recommended for long-term backups or archives of valuable data. The rest of this section applies to CD-R. The manufacturers claim 75 years (cyanine dye, used in "green" discs), 100 years (phthalocyanine dye, used in "gold" discs), or even 200 years ("advanced" phthalocyanine dye, used in "platinum" discs) once the disc has been written. The shelf life of an unrecorded disc has been estimated at between 5 and 10 years. There is no standard agreed-upon way to test discs for lifetime viability. Accelerated aging tests have been done, but they may not provide a meaningful analogue to real-world aging. Exposing the disc to excessive heat, humidity, or to direct sunlight will greatly reduce the lifetime. In general, CD-Rs are far less tolerant of environmental conditions than pressed CDs, and should be treated with greater care. The easiest way to make a CD-R unusable is to scratch the top surface. Find a CD-R you don't want anymore, and try to scratch the top (label side) with your fingernail, a ballpoint pen, a paper clip, and anything else you have handy. The results may surprise you. Keep them in a cool, dark, dry place, and they will probably live longer than you do (emphasis on "probably"). Some newsgroup reports have complained of discs becoming unreadable in as little as three years, but without knowing how the discs were handled and stored such anecdotes are useless. Try to keep a little perspective on the situation: a disc that degrades very little over 100 years is useless if it can't be read in your CD-ROM drive today. One user reported that very inexpensive CD-Rs deteriorated in a mere six weeks, despite careful storage. Some discs are better than others. An interesting article by Fred Langa (of on describes how to detect bad discs, and discusses whether putting an adhesive label on the disc causes them to fail more quickly. By some estimates, pressed CD-ROMs may only last for 10 to 25 years, because the aluminum reflective layer starts to corrode after a while. One user was told by Blaupunkt that CD-R discs shouldn't be left in car CD players, because if it gets too hot in the car the CD-R will emit a gas that can blind the laser optics. However, CD-Rs are constructed much the same way and with mostly the same materials as pressed CDs, and the temperatures required to cause such an emission from the materials that are exposed would melt much of the car's interior. The dye layer is sealed into the disc, and should not present any danger to drive optics even if overheated. Even so, leaving a CD-R in a hot car isn't good for the disc, and will probably shorten its useful life. See also, especially about some inaccurate reporting in the news media. See "Do gold CD-R discs have better longevity than green discs?" on There's a very readable discussion of CD-R media error testing on that leaves you with a numb sense of amazement that CD-Rs work at all. It also explains the errors that come out of MSCDEX and what the dreaded E32 error means to a CD stamper. An interesting document entitled "Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs - A Guide for Librarians and Archivists" can be found on the web sites for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). View it on the web at or as a PDF from It has a wealth of information about disc composition and longevity, as well as recommendations for extending the lifespan of your media. Another good NIST article, "Stability Comparison of Recordable Optical Discs -- A Study of Error Rates in Harsh Conditions" can be found at Kodak has some interesting information about their "Ultima" media. See, specifically the "KODAK Ultima Lifetime Discussion" and "KODAK Ultima Lifetime Calculation" white papers (currently in PDF format). The last page discusses the Arrhenius equation, which is used in chemistry to calculate the effect of temperature on reaction rates. The Kodak page defines it as: t = A * exp(E/kT) where 'exp()' indicates exponentiation. 't' is disc lifetime, 'A' is a time constant, 'E' is activation energy, 'k' is Boltzmann's constant, and 'T' is absolute temperature. The equation allows lifetime determined at one temperature to be used to establish the lifetime at another. If a disc breaks down in three months in extreme heat, you can extrapolate the lifetime at room temperature. The trouble with the equation is that you have to know either 'A' or 'E'. It appears that 'A' can be estimated based on empirical evidence, but see for some cautions about how tricky it can be to choose the right value. Subject: [7-6] How much data can they hold? 650MB? 680MB? (2004/04/15) There are 21-minute (80mm/3-inch), 74-minute, 80-minute, 90-minute, and 99-minute CD-Rs. These translate into data storage capacities of 184MB, 650MB, 700MB, 790MB, and 870MB respectively (see below for exact figures). See section (7-14) for more about 80mm CD-Rs, and sections (3-8-1) and (3-8-2) for notes on 80-, 90-, and 99-minute blanks. There used to be 63-minute CD-Rs, but these have largely vanished. Typical 74-minute CD-Rs are advertised as holding 650MB, 680MB, or even 700MB of data. The reality is that they're all about the same size, and while you may get as much as an extra minute or two depending on the exact construction, you're not usually going to get an extra 30MB out of a disc labeled as 74-minute media. See section (3-8-3) for information on writing beyond a disc's stated capacity. Folks interested in "doing the math" should note that only 2048 bytes of each 2352-byte sector is used for data on typical (Mode 1) discs. The rest is used for error correction and miscellaneous fields. This is why you can fit 747MB of audio WAV files onto a disc that holds 650MB of data. It should also be noted that hard drive manufacturers don't measure megabytes in the same way that RAM manufacturers do. The "MB" for RAM means 1024x1024, but for hard drives it means 1000x1000. A data CD that can hold 650 "RAM" MB of data holds about 682 "disk" MB of data, which is why many CD-Rs are mislabeled as having a 680MB capacity. (The notion of "unformatted capacity" is a nonsensical myth stemming from early hard drives.) Spelled out simply: 21 minutes == 94,500 sectors == 184.6MB CD-ROM == 212.0MB CD-DA 63 minutes == 283,500 sectors == 553.7MB CD-ROM == 635.9MB CD-DA 74 minutes == 333,000 sectors == 650.3MB CD-ROM == 746.9MB CD-DA 80 minutes == 360,000 sectors == 703.1MB CD-ROM == 807.4MB CD-DA 90 minutes == 405,000 sectors == 791.0MB CD-ROM == 908.4MB CD-DA 99 minutes == 445,500 sectors == 870.1MB CD-ROM == 999.3MB CD-DA The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has approved alternate prefixes for binary powers of two. Instead of kilobytes and megabytes we would call them kibibytes and mebibytes, with KiB and MiB replacing KB and MB. This means an 80-minute CD would be rated as holding 703.1MiB or 737.3MB. These haven't yet fallen into common usage. Check the NIST site for full details: Many CD recording programs will tell you the exact number of 2K sectors available on the CD. This is the only reliable way to know exactly how many sectors are available. 99-minute blanks will actually report incorrect values. An informal survey conducted by one user found that the deviation between the largest and smallest 74-minute CD-R was about 3500 sectors (47 seconds, or 7MB), which while not inconsequential is nowhere near the difference between 650MB and the 680MB or 700MB figures quoted by some manufacturers. All discs had at least 333,000 sectors, as required by the Red Book specification. has a fairly detailed listing of how much data different brands of media will actually hold. Again, bear in mind that different batches of the same media may have different capacities. The PCA (Power Calibration Area), PMA (Program Memory Area), TOC (Table of Contents), lead-in, and lead-out areas don't count against the time rating on single-session CDs. You really do get all the storage that the disc is rated for. On standard MODE 1 discs that aren't using packet writing, there is no "formatting overhead". Bear in mind, however, that the "cluster" size is 2K, and that the ISO-9660 filesystem may use more or less space than an MS-DOS FAT or HFS filesystem, so 650MB of files on a hard disk may occupy a different amount of space on a CD. On a multisession disc, you lose about 23MB of space when the first session is closed (to pave the way for the 2nd session), and about 14MB for each subsequent session. A common mistake when writing multisession CDs is to overestimate the amount of space that will be available for future sessions, so be sure to take this into account. (If you want the details: the first additional session requires 4500 sectors for the lead-in and 6750 for the lead-out, for a total of 11250 (22.5MB, or 2.5 minutes). Each additional session requires 4500 for the lead-in and 2250 for the lead-out, for a total of 6750 (13.5MB, or 1.5 minutes). You may also need to factor 2-second pre-gaps into the size calculation for each session. On a single-session disc, the overhead for lead-in and lead-out are not counted as part of the user data area, so nothing is "lost" until you go multisession.) Pressed aluminum CDs are also supposed to hold no more than 74 minutes of audio, but are often tweaked to hold more (see section (3-8)). To convert sectors back to seconds, divide the number of sectors by 75. If your blanks have 333,000 sectors, they have 4440 seconds, which is exactly 74 minutes. Some packet-writing solutions will take a large bite out of your available disc space. For example, if you use Roxio DirectCD 2.x with CD-RW media, it uses fixed-length packets. This allows random file erase, which means that when you delete a file you actually get the space back, but you're reduced to about 493MB after formatting the disc. More recent versions can get closer to 531MB. See section (4-42) for more info. Subject: [7-7] Is it okay to write on or stick a label on a disc? (2006/12/10) It depends. Use the right kind of pen and you shouldn't have a problem. With labels the situation is a little less certain. Keep in mind that the data is essentially stored on the top (label side) of the disc. If you damage the top, your data or music is permanently gone. See section (2-1) for a description of the physical makeup of a disc. Subject: [7-7-1] Can I write on them? What kind of pen should I use? (2006/12/10) The ink in some permanent markers can eat away the lacquer coat, which will cause your disc to become unreadable very quickly. Some discs are more vulnerable than other. Unless the disc has some sort of protective top coat (such as a printable surface), always use pens specifically designated as safe for CD-R. Never write on a disc with a ball-point pen. Pressing down on the label side could pierce or deform the reflective layer. Examples of pens for CD-Rs include the Dixon Ticonderoga "Redi Sharp Plus", the Sanford "Powermark", and TDK "CD Writer". Some of these are relabeled Staedtler Lumocolor transparency markers (#317-9), which are alcohol-based. Never use a solvent-based "permanent" marker on a CD-R -- it can eat through the lacquer coat and destroy the disc. Memorex sells water-based color "CD Markers" in four-packs (black, blue, red, green). Many people have had no problems with the popular Sanford "Sharpie" pens, which are alcohol-based. Other people say they've damaged discs by writing on them with a Sharpie, though those discs may have been particularly susceptible. The official word from Sanford is: "Sanford has used Sharpie Markers on CDs for years and we have never experienced a problem. We do not believe that the Sharpie ink can affect these CDs, however we have not performed any long-term laboratory testing to verify this. We have spoken to many major CD manufacturers about this issue. They use the Sharpie Markers on CDs internally as well, and do not believe that the Sharpie Ink will cause any harm to their products. [...] Sanford Consumer Affairs" In any event, the Ultra Fine Sharpie pen looks almost sharp enough to scratch, so sticking with the Fine Point pen is recommended. So long as you use the right kind of pen, it's okay to write directly on the top surface of the CD, label or no. Use a light touch -- you aren't filling out a form in triplicate. If the prospect makes you nervous, just write in the clear plastic area near the hub. Subject: [7-7-2] Are labels okay? (2006/12/10) The adhesives on some labels can dissolve the protective lacquer coating if the adhesive is based on a solvent that the lacquer is susceptible to. Asymmetric labels can throw the disc out of balance, causing read problems, and labels not designed for CDs might bubble or peel off when subjected to long periods of heat inside a CD drive. Always use labels designed for CD-R media. There is evidence that labels can shorten CD-R lifetime, so it might be best to label data archives and backups with a pen instead (see section (7-5) for more). Adhesive labels aren't recommended for discs you plan to keep for more than five years. The best way to feel confident about labeling your discs is to try it yourself. Buy some labels, put them on some discs, leave them someplace warm, and see if they peel off. If they do, you'll need a different kind of media or a different kind of label. Some labels don't adhere very well unless they're attached to a disc with a plain lacquer surface on top, so combining labels with "inkjet printable surface" media may be asking for trouble. One note of caution: this only tells you if the label will peel up right away. It doesn't tell you if the label will still be nice and flat two or three years from now, especially if you live in the tropics where the air is always hot and damp. Whatever you do, don't try to peel a label off once it's on. You will almost certainly pull part of the recording layer off with the label. If you're going to label a disc, do it immediately, so you can make another copy if the label doesn't adhere smoothly. Any air bubbles in the label that can't be smoothed out immediately are going to cause trouble. Use a label applicator for best results. It may not be a good idea to put labels on discs that will be fed into a "slot in" CD player, such as those popular in dashboard car CD players. Sometimes the added thickness will cause the disc to get stuck, or the edge will peel up when the motor grabs it. A number of companies make labels for CDs, and some sell complete kits including applicators and software. Two of the biggest are NEATO, at, and CD Stomper, at The software from includes templates for a variety of different label layouts. Medea International sells labels and labeling software; see Check section (8-3) for other sources. If you want a label that also covers up the clear plastic part at the center of the disc, search for "hub labels". There are even labels that *only* cover the hub section. For information about printing directly onto the surface of a disc, see section (7-29). Some information on CD-R labeling options can be found here: Sony's web site has a "Downloads & Templates" section with artwork that my prove useful. You can find most CD-related logos on the site (try, scroll down to "Logos" for common formats). Some are also available from Mike Richter's CD-R primer has a very nice page on labeling discs. See It is important to keep the CD balanced, or high-speed drives may have trouble reading the disc. According to one report, a disc that had a silk-screened image on the left side of a CD-R (leaving the right half of the disc blank) was unreadable on high-speed drives due to excessive wobbling. Most label kits come with a label-centering device, usually something trivial like a stick that's the same width as the hole in the middle of the CD. Avery's CD-R labels became quietly unavailable in October 1997. The rumor is that the adhesive caused data corruption problems, so Avery recalled them. There are indications that the adhesive would fail on some discs and start to lift off within a short period of time. If you have Avery labels (#5824) purchased before this date, you should avoid using them. The labels being produced now don't have this problem. Subject: [7-8] How do CD-Rs behave when microwaved? (2001/09/19) Disclaimer: I'm not recommending you put a CD into a microwave. CDs may contain metals that will cause your microwave to arc, destroying the microwave emitter (see cautions about metal objects in the manual for your microwave). Don't try this at home. Better yet, don't try this at all. The basic process is, take a disc that you don't want anymore, and put it shiny-side-up on something like a coffee mug so it's nowhere near the top, bottom, or sides of the microwave. (Actually, you may want to leave it right-side-up if the disc doesn't have a label, because the foil is closest to the top of the CD.) I'm told it is important to put something in the cup to be on the safe side, so fill it most of the way with water. Try to center it in the microwave. Turn off the lights. Program the microwave for a 5-second burst on "high", and watch the fireworks. Performing this operation on replicated CDs results in blue sparks that dance along the CD, leaving fractal-ish patterns etched into the reflective aluminum. For those of you not with the program, this also renders the CD unreadable. Trying this with a green/gold CD-R gives you a similar light show, but the destruction patterns are different. While pressed CDs and CD-RWs don't develop consistent patterns of destruction, CD-Rs tend to form circular patterns, possibly because of the pre-formed spiral groove. On a different note, CD-Rs seem to smell worse, or at least they start to smell earlier, than pressed CDs. The materials used are non-toxic ("cyanine" comes from the color cyan, not from cyanide), but breathing the fumes is something best avoided. For the curious, here's a note about why they behave like they do: "The aluminum layer in a CD-ROM is very thin. The microwave oven induces large currents in the aluminum. This makes enough heat to vaporize the aluminum. You then see a very small lightning storm as electric arcs go through the vaporized aluminum. Within a few seconds there will be many paths etched through the aluminum, leaving behind little metalic islands. Some of the islands will be shaped so that they make very good microwave antennas. These spots will focus the microwave energy, and get very hot. Now you will see just a few bright spots spewing a lot of smoke. The good part of the light show is over, turn off the oven. I suspect that if you leave the oven going much longer, the CD-ROM will burst into flame. This will smell very bad and may do bad things to your oven and house. Don't do it." -- Paul Haas (, on Dreamcast GD-R discs come out just like CD-R, but DVD-R is a whole different experience. Combining a microwaved CD-R with a tesla coil produces interesting results. See Subject: [7-9] What can I do with CD-R discs that failed during writing? (2005/01/03) If the disc wasn't closed, you can write more data in a new session. If the disc was closed, or was nearly full when the write failed but is still missing important data, then its use as digital media is over. However, that doesn't mean it's useless. Here are a few ideas: - Fill in the center hole to avoid leaks, and use them as drink coasters. - Create a hanging ornament (suitable for holiday decorations) or wind chime. The latter isn't all that interesting - they just sort of "clack" a little - unless you use the discs to catch the wind and something else to make the chimes. - Use them as mini-frisbees in an office with cubes. Since they're rather solid and may hurt when they hit, you should await a formal declaration of intra-office war before opening up with these. - Have CD bowling tournaments where you see how far you can roll one down a narrow hallway. You'd be surprised at how hard it can be unless you get the wrist motion just right. - Put them under a table or chair whose legs don't quite sit right. - Run them through one of those industrial-strength paper shredders (the kind with the rapidly spinning wheels) to get shiny green or gold confetti. - Make really, really big earrings. - Try to convince people at the beach that it's a shell from a new species of abalone. - Hook them into your bicycle spokes as reflectors. - Use them as wheels on a toy car. (If you had buggy firmware, you're probably stocked for a toy 18-wheeler.) - Build a suit of "CD-R chain mail" for laser-tag games. - Use them as art-deco floor or ceiling tiles. - Hang them from the rear view mirror in your car. - Cut it into a jigsaw puzzle with a small wire saw. - Try out the "helpful CD repair" suggestions that periodically crop on the newsgroup. Like the ones that suggest using acetone and sandpaper to refinish a scratched CD-R. - Hang them in your car windows. Some people believe that CDs will defeat speed guns and automated speed traps that use flash photography. - Add them to your aquarium. - Use them as dart boards or BB-gun targets. If you "miss" the hole in the middle, the error is immediately obvious. - String several together as a toy, weaving the string in and out through the center holes. Alternate green and gold for visually pleasing results. - Make a boomerang ( - Buy a cheap clock mechanism from a hobby/electronics store, and turn it into a novelty clock. - Hang them in fruit trees to scare birds away. - Use them as backing for round knobs on cabinet doors, to keep the wood from getting soiled. Works best with 80mm discs. - Practice applying CD labels. Test brands of labels you haven't tried before. Leave them in the sun and see if they peel. - Gripping the CD with two pairs of pliers, hold it over a small heat source, such as a small propane torch. Keep it moving slightly so it doesn't scorch. When the plastic reaches the melting point, stretch, twist, or bend the CD into something artistic. (Do this in a well ventilated outdoor area with adult supervision!!) - Heat a penny with a propane torch or on the stove for a few seconds, holding it with a pair of pliers. Push the penny through the center hole so it wedges halfway through. The heat of the penny softens the polycarbonate, so once it cools it should stay put. The discs are well balanced, and spin very nicely, especially when decorated with spiral patterns ( - Use them as reflectors in a solar collector. If you've given up hope of doing something "useful" with it, do something destructive with it. Try to scrape the reflective layer off the top with your fingernail. Drop it on the ground so that it hits edge-on and see if the reflective layer delaminates or the plastic chips. Try to snap it in half. Leave it sitting on a window sill with half the disc covered by a book to see the effects of heat and sunlight. Write on it with nasty permanent markers and see if you can still read it a week later. Apply a CD label then pull it off again. Different brands of media have different levels of tolerance to abuse, and it's useful to understand just how much or how little it takes to destroy a disc. In one carefully controlled experiment it was determined that CD-Rs behave differently from pressed CDs when you slam them edge-on against the ground. The aluminum ones will chip (once you throw them hard enough, otherwise they just bounce) and create silver confetti. The gold one I tried chipped and the gold layer started peeling, leaving little gold flakes everywhere. One user reported that a Verbatim blue CD developed bubbles even though the plastic was intact. More experimentation is needed (but not around pets, small children, or hard-to-vacuum carpets). On a different tack, some CD-Rs don't hold up well when immersed in water. Try pouring a little water on a disc, then let it sit until it dries. If the top surface scratches off more easily afterward, you need to be careful around moisture. Silver/blue Verbatim discs seem particularly sensitive. One comment about snapping discs in half with your fingers: use caution. Depending on the disc and how you break it, you may end up with lots of sharp polycarbonate slivers flying through the air. Wear eye protection, be aware of people around you, and be sure to clean up all the plastic shards afterward. If you have far more coasters than you want to play with, consider recycling them (section (7-21)). Subject: [7-10] Where can I find jewel cases and CD sleeves? (2004/01/12) There are many vendors. A few are listed below. Incidentally, you have a lot of choices when it comes to CD packaging. There are single-disc jewel cases, double-sized doubles, single-sized doubles, triples, quads, sextuples, plain colors, neon colors, paper envelopes, Tyvek envelopes, cardboard sleeves, clear jewel cases with black trays, clear jewel cases with built-in trays, CD pockets for use in three-ring binders, and on, and on. If you can imagine it, it's probably up for sale. Some URLs to start with: A warning about some double-disc jewel cases sold by CompUSA can be found at (along with pictures). Apparently the pressure exerted on the hub causes cracks to appear over time. If a disc with a cracked hub is put into a high-speed drive, it may shatter (see section (7-25)). Subject: [7-11] What's "unbranded" CD-R media? (1999/03/07) Simply put, it's a CD-R disc with nothing printed on the top surface. Some people need "plain" discs that they can print on, or simply like them for the aesthetic value. There is no difference in quality or capacity. Subject: [7-12] How do I repair a scratched CD? (2002/06/15) If you scratched the top (label) side of a CD-R, and it no longer works, your disc is toast. (If you scratched it, and it still works, copy the data off while you still can.) If you scratched the bottom side, then all you've done is etch the polycarbonate (plastic), and it can be repaired like any other CD. A common misconception is that the data is on the bottom, but if you examine it carefully you will see that the data is beneath the label. The laser reads the data through the polycarbonate layer, and if the layer is scratched the laser will refract onto the wrong part of the disc. For small or radial scratches, the error correction in the CD format will allow the disc to continue working, but if there's too much disruption you will get audible glitches or CD-ROM driver errors. If the disc works some of the time, you can "repair" it by copying it onto a new CD-R disc. If the disc is always unreadable, or is copy protected, you will need to repair the disc itself. One product that may be useful is Wipe Out! (, a chemical abrasive that allows you to reduce scratches. Another is Discwasher from The Repair FAQ at has a section on repairing scratched CDs. Find the "Compact Disc Players and CDROM Drives" section, and skip down to 4.10 and 4.11. Some people have suggested using plastic polishes or "fine cut" paint polishes sold for removing fine scratches on automobiles. These fill in the scratches and create a more optically consistent surface. Fine metal polishes may also work, and some people claim that plain old white toothpaste does the trick. There is some chance that the filler material will fall out over time, rendering the disc unreadable once again, and possibly gunking up your CD-ROM drive along the way. If you want to fill in the scratches, you should make a copy of the contents to a new disc as soon as possible, and stop using the original. Subject: [7-13] What's this about a Canadian CD-R tax? (2006/02/27) In the United States, a distinction is made between "consumer digital audio" media and data media. You have to pay extra for consumer audio CD-R blanks and DAT tapes, and the music recording industry gets a piece on the assumption that the media will be used to hold commercially recorded material. Canada has gone a step farther, by placing a levy upon *all* media capable of storing audio. Even the "data" CD-R blanks, which don't work in consumer audio CD-recordable decks, are subject to the levy. Starting Jan 1 2001, the levy was raised from CDN$0.052 to CDN$0.21 (a 4x increase) for CD-R and CD-RW discs. Some web sites with more information: See also for a 1999/12/17 announcement that the Levy has gone into effect, and for an announcement about the 2001 price increase. has the 2007 proposal, which continues the CDN$0.21 per disc price. The price for discs purchased in bulk quantities can more than double because of the levy. Subject: [7-14] Can I get 80mm (3-inch "cd single") CD-Rs? (2001/11/27) The 80mm CD didn't catch on everywhere. In some markets, notably the USA, pressed "CD single" discs are rarely seen. The 80mm CD-R made a brief appearance, and then vanished for a while. As of the middle of the year 2000, they were once again easy to find. In mid-2001, Sony started using them in one of their Mavica camera models, and towards the end of 2001 80mm-based MP3 players appeared. They're pretty easy to find now. Using them is not as straightforward as could be hoped. Most *software* will work just fine, because all CD-Rs have slightly different capacities, especially when you consider 63-minute, 74-minute, and 80-minute blanks. The problems stem from their physical dimensions. Pretty much all tray-based recorders have grooves for 120mm discs and 80mm discs. However, not all of them can actually record 80mm discs. Web sites for recent drives will sometimes indicate whether or not they're compatible. Some CD recorders can read the discs but not write them, possibly because the clamping mechanism raises the disc to a level where it's no longer sufficiently supported at the edges. If you have a caddy-based recorder, you will have a problem: while trays have two different rings for 80mm and 120mm discs, caddies don't. According to the Yamaha CDR-102 manual, there is a "Disk Adaptor", referenced as part #ADP08, that sits in the caddy and keeps the disc properly positioned. A device that performed a similar function used to be sold by music stores so that standard players could handle 80mm CD-singles; it looks like a plastic doughnut that clips onto the disc. If you have one of these, great. If you don't, you may have difficulty finding them. You will likely have even worse luck figuring out how to play an 80mm disc on a "slot in" CD-ROM drive -- the kind where you push the disc into a slot, and it slurps it up. Some manufacturers have indicated that their traction-feed drives work fine with 80mm discs, but before you try it might be wise to have a screwdriver handy. A less common issue with 80mm discs has to do with playback. A loose sheet included with the CDR-100/102 "CD Expert" manual states: "An 8-cm disc recorded at normal speed on the CD Expert may not playback correctly on some manufacturer's CD-ROM drives. This is likely on drives that have a playback PLL (phase lock loop) bandwidth of 1.5 kHz. Most drives, however, have a playback PLL bandwidth of 2.5 kHz, in which case this is not a problem." The final discouragement for 80mm discs is that they only hold 21 minutes of audio (about 95250 sectors on Ritek silver-blue discs, or about 186MB), but at present cost more than their full-sized counterparts. They are an interesting curiosity, and a cute gift when placed in a miniature jewel case, but little more. There appear to be 80mm discs that hold 34 minutes (just shy of 300MB), but these come with the same caveats as 90-minute 120mm discs: the discs have to be constructed at or outside the limits of what the specifications allow, and you may have problems with compatibility. [ On a personal note: my Plextor 8/20 refuses to accept 80mm discs when I put them in the tray. I was able to use them with a (caddy-load) Yamaha CDR-102 when I put the discs in a CD-single caddy adapter. It turns out that the Plextor 8/20 will write to the discs when the caddy adapter is used for it as well. There seems to be some problem with the Plextor's mechanics when the disc is resting in the 80mm tray. I don't know of a source for the adapters, though I'm told carries them. ] Subject: [7-15] Where can I find CD-ROM business cards and "shaped" CDs? (2005/11/08) You can find CD-ROMs in many interesting shapes, including ovals and rectangles. These are functional CD-ROMs that are, for example, the same size and shape as a traditional business card (well, a really thick business card). They can have your name and contact information printed on the front, and can hold a modest amount of data, typically about 40MB. Recordable CD-R business cards are available as well. As with 80mm CDs (see section (7-14)), you may have trouble playing these "discs" on CD-ROM drives that use caddies or have a "slot-in" design. Some net.vendors (there are many others, but this is a good start): For information about a 57.5mm disc with 80mm "wings", see Cutting a CD-R disc into a different shape isn't recommended, because the recording layer tends to delaminate easily once the seal has been broken. Some CD-Rs have appeared in Japan that use a 120mm polycarbonate disc with an 80mm recordable area. This allows the outer polycarbonate to be cut into interesting shapes without affecting the recordable area. Some pictures are available on What follows are some personal notes on CD-recordable business cards, based on experiments conducted in early 2000. I bought five from for about $3 each. According to CD-R Media Code Identifier, the essential facts are: Nominal Capacity: 51.219MB (05m 51s 49f / LBA: 26224) ATIP: 97m 1As 55f Disc Manufacturer: Lead Data Inc. Dye: Pthalocyanine (Type 5) The discs are gold in color, and look like an 80mm disc that was squared off across the top and bottom. They come in clear plastic envelopes that are slightly larger than the discs themselves. Total size is 80mm long and 60mm wide, which is a little off from the standard business card (88mm x 51mm) but not by much. As with 80mm CD-Rs, my Plextor 8/20 rejected them unless I put them in an 80mm caddy adapter. The adapter doesn't work very well, since it's only holding the disc on two points, but it worked well enough. I grabbed a local copy of my web page, threw on an autorun.inf and a copy of shellout.exe, and wrote it to the disc with disc-at-once recording. The recorder got upset while writing the leadout, and ECDC (3.5c) reported some fatal errors, but the disc had already been closed enough to be readable in the two CD-ROM drives tried. It's possible that the slight looseness in the caddy adapter caused problems... on future attempts I will try to fasten the disc a little more securely. The use of these discs as business cards presents some difficulties. If you look at the picture on, you can see that the disc has the same clear hub as a standard disc, which doesn't give you much of a solid background for writing. All is not lost, however: there are other cards with ink-jet printable surfaces, and adhesive business card labels are now available. Subject: [7-16] Can you tell pressed CDs and silver CD-Rs apart? (2004/03/03) The easiest way is to drag something sharp across the top, perhaps some car keys, and watch what happens. If the top surface flakes off easily and seems to want to peel up, it's a CD recordable. If you'd like to be able to use the disc afterward, there are some non-destructive ways too. In some cases it's easy to tell, e.g. the color is slightly off or there are two different shades of silver. The written areas on a CD-R look slightly different from unwritten areas. A silver CD-R that has been written to capacity is nearly indistinguishable from a pressed disc though, and some pressed discs have distinctly visible regions. You can get a definitive answer with CD-R Media Code Identifier (6-2-9). Put the disc into a CD recorder and query it. Pressed discs will say "no information". Some CD recorders might have trouble finding the ATIP after the disc has been closed, so do some tests with known discs before jumping to any conclusions. Subject: [7-17] What's the difference between "data" and "music" blanks? (2003/01/13) "Consumer" stand-alone audio CD recorders require special blanks. See section (5-12) for details. There is no difference in quality or composition between "data" blanks and "music" blanks, except for a flag that indicates which one it is. It's likely that "music" blanks are optimized for recording at 1x, since anything you record "live" is by definition recorded at 1x (though some dual-drive systems allow track copying at higher speeds). You don't have to use "music" blanks to record music on a computer or on a "professional" stand-alone audio CD recorder. Nothing will prevent you from doing so, but there's no advantage to it. The "music" blanks are more expensive than the "data" blanks because a portion of the price goes to the music industry. The specifics vary from country to country. In the USA, the money goes to the RIAA, which distributes it to artists who have navigated through a complicated application process. Some manufacturers have on occasion marked low-quality data discs as being "for music", on the assumption that small errors will go unnoticed. Make sure that, if you need the special blanks, you're getting the right thing. (Technically, there are actually three kinds of blanks: type 1a for CD-ROM or professional audio recording, type 1b for special-purpose applications like PhotoCD, and type 2 for unrestricted use. "Music" blanks are type 2, "data" blanks are type 1a.) Some disc manufacturers label "music" blanks as "universal use", since they will work on anything. Subject: [7-18] How do I convert data CD-Rs into "consumer audio" blanks? (2002/02/25) The CD-Rs required by "consumer" stand-alone audio recorders (section (5-12)) are more expensive than the standard "data" CD-Rs. Converting a standard blank into a consumer-audio blank is like converting lead to gold, in two ways: it would save a lot of money, and it's impossible. CD-Rs have some information pressed into them that cannot be altered. One such tidbit is the Disc Application Flag, which tells the recorder what sort of blank you've inserted. There are ways to trick certain recorders into accepting other kinds of blanks (some of which are mentioned in section (5-12)), but there is no way to disguise the blank itself. (For the nit-pickers: apparently some experiments with nuclear reactors and particle accelerators have actually resulted in conversion of lead to gold. It is unlikely that placing a "data" CD-R in a particle accelerator will do anything useful, however.) Subject: [7-19] Is translucent media bad? (2002/12/09) A popular perception is that translucent CD-R media -- discs that are, to some extent, see-through -- are lower in quality than discs you can't see through. The argument is that the discs reflect less light, and as a result are less likely to work in some players. The argument is without merit. So long as the disc reflects at least 70% of the beam when it strikes a "land", it meets the CD-R specification. All CD-R media, except for discs treated with an opaque top coating (usually to provide an absorbent surface for ink-jet printers), are to some extent translucent. Take your favorite brand of un-coated disc, write on the top with a black marker, and hold it up to a bright light source. The writing will be visible through the disc, even on widely recommended high-end brands. Suppose the translucent media had an opaque label added to the top. Now that you can't see through it, is the quality of the media higher? There is much more to media quality than its ability to reflect the visible light spectrum. It can be argued, of course, that there is a correlation between the process that yields discs that are easy to see through and discs that don't work very well. There is, as yet, no proof that such a correlation exists. Subject: [7-20] How do I destroy CD-R media beyond all hope of recovery? (2005/08/11) This question comes up every once in a while, because somebody with sensitive data wants to obliterate unwanted copies on CD-R. With magnetic media, the problem is well understood, and guidelines have been published for the proper treatment of floppy disks and hard drives. To the best of my knowledge, no such guidelines have been published for CD recordable media. To be effective and useful, an approach must have two properties: it must guarantee that there is no hope of recovering any data from the media, and it must be safe and easy to implement. The qualifications for the former involve a fair degree of paranoia. If, for example, you want to erase a file from a hard drive while leaving the remaining contents intact, it is necessary to write over every sector in which the file was written several times with different bit patterns. If you just zeroed out the blocks, a sufficiently sensitive device could detect lingering magnetic traces, and possibly reconstruct significant pieces of the original file. Some possible approaches for CD-R: Death by physical delamination Scrape off the reflective layer with something sharp. Can be done by an unskilled worker or simple device. You still need to do something with the reflective layer, though, and there might still be traces of data on the polycarbonate (dye residue). Death by shredding Run the disc through an industrial-strength paper shredder. The polycarbonate tends to shatter into many small pieces. The resulting jigsaw puzzle should be exceptionally difficult to reassemble. The trouble is that the reflective layer and underlying dye is very flexible once separated from the polycarbonate, and might not shred well. (A much simpler variant of this is to snap the disc in half. If you do it the right direction, the polycarbonate breaks into several pieces. You may want to tuck the disc inside a magazine or newspaper to control the shrapnel.) Many "home office" shredders will handle CDs now. Death by drum sander Secure the disc to a piece of wood, and run it through an industrial drum sander ( These come with dust vacuum hoods, which should minimize the amount of breathable polycarbonate. The system would have to be calibrated carefully though, or the sander might just rip the data layer off and fling it (or, for that matter, fire the whole disc across the room). Using the piece of wood more than once might be problematic, depending on the exact method used to attach discs to it. Death by chemical delamination Drop the disc into acetone. That ought to dissolve the top layer and leave little left that's meaningful. Something still needs to be done with the polycarbonate, though, in case it retains any traces of the data, and disposal of acetone can be a problem. Death by incineration Pop the disc into a wood-burning stove. Quick, easy, effective, and really bad for the environment. The fumes from burning polycarbonate are not recommended as a treatment for lung disorders. Elevating a CD-R disc above 250C (about 480F) should cause it to become fully "recorded", but it's possible that some traces of the original recording would remain. Death by microwave Microwaving a disc for a few seconds renders it pretty well unusable. It's not clear how thorough this process is. A visual inspection suggests that some regions of the disc go relatively untouched. Death by coherent light The disc was written by a laser that turned on and off. Presumably it is possible to modify a CD recorder such that it turns the laser on and leaves it on. This would obliterate all of the data on the disc. It's not clear if a sensitive detector could see regions that were "written" twice. Death by sandblasting Blasting discs with sand will certainly take the reflective layer off, and do a pretty fair job of scrubbing them clean. The only concern is for whether the delaminated layer gets fully pulverized or just sheared off (and stays intact). Death by sidewalk This approach is similar to the others, but can be performed with inexpensive equipment: a patch of rough cement and a rubber-soled shoe. Put the disc, shiny side up, on the sidewalk. Step on it, and twist vigorously while applying pressure. This will gouge the foil and polycarbonate, and with sufficient force may even split the disc itself. More force may be required on disks with adhesive labels, and cleanup can be tricky on a windy day. There doesn't seem to be a simple answer or perfect method. If you aren't concerned about the NSA or a major national power recovering your data, though, scratching with car keys or snapping in half with your hands should be all the security you need. Subject: [7-21] Can I recycle old CDs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs? (2004/08/31) Yes. One such recycling company, Polymer Reprocessors (in the UK), has a nice web page describing what happens to the materials. Visit Others: - GreenDisk, - Plastics Recyling Incorporated (no web site) -- Indianapolis, IN USA 317-780-6100. Subject: [7-22] Is there really a fungus that eats CDs? (2005/10/12) Yes. It appears to be limited to tropical climates. Two articles from mid-2001 (no longer on original sites, so links are provided): - - The incident in question was discovered by a researcher from Spain who visited Belize in Central America. What is believed to be a strain of Geotrichum entered a CD from the outer edge and destroyed the aluminum reflective layer as well as some of the polycarbonate. A person in Australia reported a few years earlier that store-bought pressed CDs were getting eaten, but gold CD-Rs were doing rather well. Subject: [7-23] How do I clean CD-R and CD-RW discs? (2004/02/22) The short answer is, clean them the same way you would a pressed CD. Take a lint-free cotton cloth and wipe from the center out. It's important to move in a straight line from the hub to the outside, rather than moving in a circular motion. The act of cleaning could cause the surface to abrade, and the error correction employed is better at correcting scratches and marks that go from the center out. You have to be a little more careful with CD-Rs than you are with pressed CDs, because the lacquer coating may not resist certain chemicals as well. Some CD-R discs all but fall apart when exposed to alcohol. Some really cheap ones start to dissolve in tap water. Your best bet is to just use a dry, clean, soft, lint-free cloth, like you would use to clean the lens of a camera. (In practice, a wadded up tissue works pretty well, but it's best to avoid paper products. Lens cleaning papers are great for glass, but polycarbonate is much easier to scratch.) Subject: [7-24] Are "black" discs different from other discs? (2003/08/24) Yes and no. Your eyes can tell you that the disc is different, but the laser in the CD player can't. A "black" disc, popularized by the tint added to Playstation games, has had color added to the polycarbonate layer. The tint looks very dark to the eye, but so long as it doesn't absorb or disperse too much light in the laser wavelength it won't interfere with disc performance. If you hold the disc in front of a light, you may discover that your "black" disc is actually very dark red. Some people have suggested that, by blocking other light, the coloration enhances the performance of the disc. This makes about as much sense as drawing around the outside of the disc with a green magic marker (a popular myth from the 1980s). If you find that "black" discs work poorly or especially well, you haven't discovered anything different from what most owners of CD recorders know: some discs just work better than others. The tint in the plastic isn't likely to be involved. (Some users have done some fairly careful testing, and found that "black" audio discs sounded better than non-black discs from the same manufacturer. I haven't seen a controlled double-blind study that reached this conclusion, but there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the colored polycarbonate causes the discs to sound different.) Subject: [7-25] My disc just shattered in the CD drive! (2004/03/03) This is rare but not unheard-of. Spinning an object at high speed puts it under a lot of strain. Poorly-balanced discs can cause vibrations and make the problem worse. Drives rated at 52x typically spin somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 RPM (see section (5-22) to see how this is calculated). This is not enough to shatter a disc in good condition, but more than enough to destroy a disc with minor defects. This is one reason why Sony's 52x drives default to 40x maximum, with a "turbo boost" feature that enables 52x reading and writing. Super-fast drives, e.g. 72x, are actually spinning more slowly, but employ multiple read lasers to read from more than one area of the disc at a time. has some warnings and safety advice. There is a PDF document containing a thorough analysis of the problem. The study concluded that uncracked discs are not expected to shatter in 40x and 52x drives, but discs with small cracks near the hub of the disc are at risk. If you have a disc with a visible crack in it, DO NOT use it in your CD-ROM drive unless you can reduce the speed to 8x or below (the slower the better). Not all drives can be slowed. For Plextor models use the tools that came with the drive; for some models there are speed-reduction applications available on the web; for others you're simply out of luck. Nero DriveSpeed ( will work for many drives. Some web pages with destructive experiments: - - An episode of the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" TV show demonstrated discs flying apart near 30,000 RPM. This speed would only be necessary for a 150x drive. Apparently they assumed that 52x drives read at 52x across the entire disc, rather than just at the outside where the amount of data read per revolution is higher. Subject: [7-26] How do I tell which side on a silver/silver disc is up? (2002/02/25) There is one approach guaranteed to work: put the disc in the drive. If it works, you have it right. If it doesn't, eject it and turn it over. Alternate approach: many discs have numbers or letters printed near the hub. If they appear to be written backwards, the disc is upside-down. Another approach: hold the disc edge-on in front of you, so you're looking right across the surface of the disc. Tilt it up slightly, and look closely at the edge farthest from you. When it's the right way up you'll just see the label, when it's the wrong way up you'll be able to see some light through the polycarbonate. Yet another approach: the area of the disc near the hub may feel different (one side may have a groove or a lump that the other doesn't). Figure out which side is which, then remember how the disc feels. Subject: [7-27] How should I handle and store CDs? (2004/02/20) This list comes substantially from NIST Special Publication 500-252, available from Most of it is common sense. - Handle discs by the outer edge or the center hole. Don't touch the surface of the disc, or you'll leave fingerprints and oil behind. - Label the disc with a non-solvent-based felt-tip permanent marker. Beware of permanent markers that contain strong solvents. The use of adhesive labels is not recommended for long-term storage (more than five years). If you do use a label, never try to remove or reposition it. - Keep the disc free of dirt and other gunk. - Store discs vertically rather than flat. Over a long period, gravity will warp the disc if it's left flat in a jewel case. Most jewel cases support the disc by its center, holding it off the backing. - Return discs to storage cases immediately after use. - Open a recordable disc package only when you are ready to record data onto that disc. If your discs came on a spindle, leave them on the spindle until you need them. - Store discs in a cool, dry, dark environment in which the air is clean. Avoid areas that are excessively hot or damp. Keep them away from direct sunlight and other UV light sources. - Clean dirt, smudges, and liquids from discs by wiping with a clean cotton fabric in a straight line from the center of the disc toward the outer edge. Never wipe in circles. The error correction codes on the disc can handle small interruptions, such as a scratch that travels across the spiral, but can't handle large interruptions, such as a scratch that's traveling in the same direction as the spiral. Avoid paper products, such as lens-cleaning paper. - Clean stubborn dirt and foreign substances with 99% isopropyl alcohol or 99% methyl alcohol (methanol). Apply the cleaner to the cloth, then rub the cloth across the disc, taking care not to get any fluid on the label side of the disc. Some labels or coatings may not react well with alcohol. - Do not bend the disc. Flexing the disc can cause stress patterns to form in the polycarbonate, and if you stretch it far enough you might start to deform the reflective and recording layers. Take care when pulling discs out of tight jewel cases. - Do not expose the disc to rapid changes in temperature or humidity. - Use quality discs from an experienced manufacturer. Low-quality discs will degrade quickly, even under ideal conditions. A temperature between 20C (68F) and 4C (39F) with a relative humidity of 20-50% is recommended. Before you go stuffing all of your discs in the refrigerator, make note of the fact that rapid changes in temperature and humidity can be harmful. You would need to let your discs slowly come up to room temperature before placing them in a CD player. Discs that are accessed frequently should be stored in an environment similar to the one in which they will be played. Subject: [7-28] What causes the rainbow effect when looking at the data side? (2004/03/03) A CD has a single spiral track, each revolution of which is separated by 1.6 microns on a 74-minute disc (less on higher-capacity discs). The mirrored "grooves" act as a reflection diffraction grating, causing interference patterns in the reflected light. Some related web sites: - - Subject: [7-29] Can I print directly on a CD-R? (2005/11/08) Yes, with the right setup. You have to use media with a printable surface that holds ink, and you need a disc printer. One equipment source is Primera Technology ( It's also possible to use offset printing (the process used to print newspapers and magazines). Some additional information can be found at
Subject: [8] Net Resources and Vendor Lists (1998/04/06) Some of these sites have both technical information and product sales; they're listed twice. The CD-Info bibliography at is also worth checking out. Subject: [8-1] Information resources (2005/11/08) Some useful web pages. Don't forget about the newsgroups, listed in section (0-5). Mike Richter's collection of files and URLs related to CD-R. Information about CDs and CD-Rs, especially technology and industry stuff. Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA); see the CD-R Q&A doc at Lots of useful information on CD-R. Cinram's (was Disc Manufacturing, Inc.'s) technical library. Used to have more stuff. A few articles remain. Information and FAQs from the group. Highly technical paper on CDs. Very nice explanation of how CDs work. A bunch of good stuff. Information on CDD2600 and CDD3610 recorders. The "Orange Forum" web page. (CD-R is "Orange Book".) Very artistic. A few articles on various subjects relating to studio-quality audio recording. Home Recording Rights Coalition (some good legal stuff). The Media Sciences web site; good technical info. CD-ROM section of the Repair FAQ ( Lots of good technical info on CD stuff, as well as how to fix things when they break. Several articles on CD-R (a/k/a News and information on CD recording. Some useful info about CD-R. [Polish] General CD-R info. Some practical advice and experiences with CD-R, including a lengthy discussion on transferring audio recordings from other sources. News and information for people in the CD/DVD duplication industry. Subject: [8-2] Magazines and other publications (2008/10/09),, and seem to be gone. Coverage of various forms of digital content. Subject: [8-3] Net.vendors (2004/08/27) NOTE: this should not be considered an endorsement of these vendors. No attempt has been made to verify the quality of products or service you will receive. This list is provided as a convenience. Dead links are occasionally weeded out. Subject: [8-3-1] Consumer software, hardware, and media (2007/08/08) Places to buy the stuff you need. If you're looking for media in bulk, try these and perhaps also the vendors in the next section. Search for products, view results sorted by price. Street price search engine. Hardware and media. Hardware and media. Freeware and shareware utilities. Media. Hardware and software. CompUSA's online catalog. Hardware and media. Hardware and media. Media. Hardware and media. Hardware and media. Hardware and media. Hardware, software, and media. Hardware and media. Media. Media. Media and hardware. Roxio's online store. Media and jewel cases. Bags Unlimited; carries a remarkable variety of CD envelopes and cases. Media. Hardware and media (emphasis on stand-alone audio equipment). Hardware and media. Transfer video tape to VideoCD. Labels, clip art, and label software. Media, labels, printers, supplies, duplication equipment. Media. Media. Media. Lots of labels. Labels, labels, and more labels. Bulk media. Bulk media. Hardware and media. Hardware and media. CD labels and sleeves. CD/DVD packaging. Many types of media and jewel cases. Media. CD/DVD media and duplication hardware. Subject: [8-3-2] Net.vendors (duplication services and hardware) (2007/08/08) If you need a large number of discs made, perhaps with booklets and printed labels, you can enlist the aid of a duplication house, or buy CD recording and printing equipment to do it yourself. Most of these also sell various types of blank media in bulk. (While it's outside the scope of the FAQ, it's worth noting that nearly all of these companies handle DVD as well as CD.) "Duplication" means copying to recordable media, "replication" means pressing from a glass master. Duplication usually has a faster turnaround time and is the most economical for quantities under 1000 or so, replication is less expensive for larger orders. CD/DVD duplication and replication services, audio/video production. CD/DVD duplication, packaging, and printing. CD/DVD duplication equipment, software, media. CD duplication equipment. CD duplicators, media, and networked CD-R jukeboxes. CD-R duplication hardware and services. CD-R duplication hardware and services. (formerly CD replication, specializing in same-day service. Hardware (including duplicators), software, and media. Hardware (including duplicators), software, and media. CD-R duplication hardware and services. CD/CD-R duplication, blank media, duplication equipment. CD-R and DVD-R printing and duplication systems. CD-R and DVD-R printing and duplication systems. Media, as well as production and duplication services. CD-R duplication services, equipment, and media. CD-R duplication services, equipment, and media. CD and DVD duplication and replication services, hardware, media. CD and DVD duplication and replication services, hardware, media. CD and DVD duplication hardware, media. CD/DVD duplicators, disc printers and duplication supplies. Duplicating equipment and services. Media, duplicators, replication services. Media, duplicators, replication services. CD/DVD duplication. CD duplication, replication, and hardware. CD duplication and replication services. CD duplication services (with online order form). CD-R duplication services, equipment, and media. CD/DVD duplication services. CD/DVD replication, custom printing. CD duplication services, artwork templates. CD/DVD duplication and replication services. CD/DVD replication. CD/DVD duplication and replication. CD/DVD duplication and replication. CD/DVD duplication and replication. CD/DVD duplication, replication, and artwork services. CD/DVD duplication. Subject: [8-4] News sources & mailing lists (2006/01/13) Sources for current news on subjects relevant to CD recording. Most of these sites are updated daily, with news, product reviews, and software update notices: - - - - - - Blogs: - (CD and DVD duplication industry) A mailing list for CD-R users: - (Yahoo! groups "advanced_cdr")
Subject: [9] Contributors (2002/02/20) Much of the information contained in this FAQ was culled from the Usenet newsgroups comp.publish.cdrom.* and the WWW sites mentioned in the previous sections. All of the contents, except for a few items in "double quotes", is original material written by Andy McFadden. Please remember that the author is NOT a CD-R expert, so sending him mail won't get you very far. Please *post* questions to comp.publish.cdrom.*. The CD-Recordable FAQ was first posted to Usenet on March 2nd, 1996, and was made available in HTML form on on March 24th, 1996. It moved to on May 28th, 1998, and moved again to its current home on on March 3rd, 2001. This FAQ was written by: Andy McFadden With a great deal of help on the first several drafts from: Katherine Cochrane Hal Rottenberg hal_rottenberg@--- Georges Brown Georges@--- And information and suggestions -- often in the form of posts to comp.publish.cdrom.{hardware,software,multimedia} -- from: [ Due to spammers, e-mail addresses are truncated. ] Decius Aiacus decius_aiacus@--- Robert M. Albrecht romal@--- Alecto alecto@--- David Anderson C270@--- Maurice Andres lusseau@--- Pierre-Yves Andri PierreYves.Andri@--- Jeff Arnold jarnold@--- Jeff Aspinall aspinall@--- Evil Azrael evil_azrael@--- Michael Battilana mcb@--- Mario Diguez B. hidrosan@--- Clive Backham clive@--- Brian Barth BrianBarth@--- Dave Bayer bayer@--- Alex Bell abell@--- Yves Belle-Isle BelY@--- Ricardo Martinez Benesenes Ricardo.Martinez-Benesenes@--- Dennis Benjamin ocms0001@--- Mathieu Besson Mathieu.Besson@--- Blaine blam1@--- Jim Blietz entexse@--- Peter 'Pedro' Blum peter@--- Patrick Boen patrick.boen@--- Robert R. Boerner, Jr. bob973@--- Eric Jan van den Bogaard bogaard@--- Axel Booltink ab@--- Michael Borowiec mikebo@--- David Bouw bouw@--- Scott Bracken scott@--- Sune Bredahl sjn@--- Peter Broadbent bent@--- Simon Brownlee simon.brownlee@--- Craig Burgess craigb@--- Frans de Calonne fdecalonne@--- Chris Cant chris@--- Mirco Caramori mirco@--- Mark Carde mcarde@--- Juan Carlos ackman@--- Carter Duplicator@--- Brian D. Chambers bucknife@--- David Charlap shamino@--- Kenneth Chen lore@--- Michel Cherbuliez cherbu@--- Andrew Chiang andrewc@--- Sean Christy seanchr@--- Dave Chung dtchung@--- Kevin Clark clark@--- Christophe CLERC-RENAUD clerc@--- Carlos Coimbra ccoimbra@--- Jef Collin Jef.Collin@--- Daniel Courville courville.daniel@--- Kevin Coyle kmcoyle@--- Gary Crosby gacrosby@--- John Daly jdaly@--- datta datta@--- Gary Davis gdavis@--- Matthew Day mtday@--- Paul DeFilippo bruttium@--- Peter DiCamillo peter@--- Steven M. Dietz steve@--- Mike Dijkema m.dijkema@--- Kurt Dommermuth kurtz@--- Hans Driessen marcomlo.pkm@--- Barry Drodge bdrodge@--- Bob Drzyzgula bob@--- Russell Duffy rad@--- Pierre Duhem duhem@--- Mark J. Dulcey mark@--- Cydrek Dysan cdysan@--- Lunatic E'Sex Luny@--- Toerless Eckert Toerless.Eckert@--- Erik Eckhardt erik@--- Jonathan Edelson winnie@--- Heiko Eissfeldt heiko@--- Daniel Elroi audndani@--- Steve Enzer enzer@--- Grant Erickson eric0139@--- Sam Etler etler@--- Martin Evans MARTIN@--- Voytek Eymont voytek@--- Frank Feder fwfeder@--- Helen Feng wanderer@--- Joel Finkle jjfink@--- Rob Foster rfoster@--- Joe T. Fountain gorjoe@--- Oliver Friedman oliverfriedman@--- Emile Gardette egardett@--- Nick Gawronski nickg@--- gialitt gialitt@--- E. Goldberg earl@--- Gerry Goodrich gogood@--- Colin Gordon gordonc@--- Jac Goudsmit Gary E. Grant ggrant@--- grasser grasser@--- Patrick Green patrick@--- Richard Green srcemag@--- Dave Grimes dgrimes@--- Ron Gustavson rongus@--- Gregory F. Haas gregh@--- Joe Hall phroget@--- Steven Duntley Halpape UserNAme@--- Dan Hamilton danh@--- Rich Hanson richard.hanson@--- Russ Harper topquark@--- Chris Harrison c-harry@--- Matt Hartley hartlw@--- Mike Harvey mharvey@--- Robert Hedges rhhedgz1@--- Marc Herbert Marc.Herbert@--- Herman Hillebrand hermanh@--- Anders Holm anders.holm.1965@--- Steve Holzworth sch@--- Vincent van't Hoog hoog@--- John J. Hook jjh@--- Dan Hopper ku4nf-N0SPAM@--- Frank Huberty frank@--- M. H. mhulden@--- Malcolm Humes mal@--- Todd R Hustrulid Todd.R.Hustrulid-1@--- Chris Ice Kristof Indeherberge kristof.indeherberge@--- Andrea Invernizzi ainvernizzi@--- Jadiel jadiel@--- Ben Jenkins bjenkins@--- Patrick Jeski pjeski@--- JMC j_mc3@--- Harri Johansson harri.johansson@--- Curt Johnson cjohnson@--- Arnold Jones arnold@--- Bryan Jones siz1@--- HK hk@--- Oliver Kastl Tapio Keihanen dio@--- Roger A. Kendall kendall@--- Steve Kennedy prografx@--- Jorg Kennis jorg@--- Roger Kirk rkirk@--- Richard Kiss richard@--- Peter van Klaveren Peter.van.Klaveren@--- Lyle Knox laknox@--- Jerry Kohoutek jerryk@--- Adrie Koolen adrie@--- pieter korremans pieterkorremans@--- Steven A. Kortze skortze@--- Alexander S. Kosiorek alex_audio@--- James Krainock jamesk@--- Bernard Lang lang@--- Rick Langston Rick.Langston@--- Nils Emil P. Larsen Peter_Larsen@--- William Leech William@--- Matthew Leeds mleeds@--- Greg Legowski gregleg@--- Lemarcha lemarcha@--- J. Russell Lemon Lemon.J.Russell@--- Jim Leodidis osa@--- Barry Libenson barryl@--- Marc van Lierop marcvl@--- Wee-Keong LIM keong@--- Linda linda@--- George Lindholm lindholm@--- Mike Linhart mlinhart@--- Torbjrn Lindgren tl@--- John Lodge johnlodge@--- Chris HP Lovecraft tmservo@--- nelson luc nelson_luc@--- Jean-Paul Maas jmaa@--- Maki maki@--- Nathan Manlove nate@--- Mark fingers@--- Markie markie#the@--- Bob Martin rtm@--- John Marvin jsm@--- Jean-Francois Masse jfmasse@--- Jonathan Austin Maton jmaton@--- Mats mats@--- Matthew MTDay@--- Anthony McCarthy anthony@--- Doug McFadyen dmcfadye@--- Dawn Messerly dawn#_@--- Michel Milano mmilano@--- Gene Miller gmiller@--- Carlos Miranda resal1719@-- Hans Mons Hans.Mons@--- Patrick Morris patrick.morris@--- Ken Moss kmoss@--- F.Mouta fernando.mouta@--- Brian Mullen mullen@--- John Navas JNavas@--- Brandon Navra navra@--- Gordon Neault gordo-x@--- Paul Newson ienewson@--- James Nichols jbn@--- Niderost, B.U. niderost@--- Lou Nigro buster@--- Jon nobody nobody@--- Alexander Noe' alexander.noe@--- Nick Norton Nick@--- Jonathan Oei joei@--- Ross Orr rossorr@--- David Oseas doseas@--- palomaki palomaki@--- Dana Parker danapark@--- Jeff Pearson lumpofcoal@--- Reto A. Pergher dzkrper@--- Chris Petersen cpeterse@--- Matthias Petofalvi mpetofal@--- Phred ppnerk@--- Dave Platt dplatt@--- Jaap v.d. Pol Kevin Purdy kpurdy@--- Frank Racis racis@--- Ron Reaugh Ron-Reaugh@--- Paul Reeves reeves@--- Reinhart Lasernut23@--- Phillip A. Remaker remaker@--- Peter Richardson pk.r@--- Rick Richardson rick@--- Mike Richter mrichter@--- Jim Riggs jriggs@--- Stephanie Roberson Thursday@--- Robert Rolf Robert.Rolf@--- Danny Roos mayday@--- Meelis Roos mroos@--- Tonko de Rooy tderooy@--- Paul Rubin phr@--- Michael Rubin mickster@--- Joost Ruijsch j.ruijsch@--- Road Runner rmiller2@--- Aaron Sakovich sakovich@--- Giuseppe Salza gsalza@--- Torsten Sander ints@--- Nick Sayer nsayer@--- John Schlichther jschlic1@--- Angela Schmidt Angela.Schmidt@--- Jrg Schilling schilling@--- Bertel Schmitt bschmitt@--- Mike "NO UCE" S. s_c_h_u_s_t_e_r_@--- Barbara Severance digihorse@--- Chris Severance severach@--- Jason Shannon Jason.Shannon@--- Guy Shavitt guy-s@--- Shawn shawnl@--- Steve Sheppard steve@--- Brett Sherris bsherris@--- Aron Siegel vinylm@--- J. Robert Sims, III robsims@--- Keith Sklower sklower@--- RE Smallwood robert.smallwood@--- Bart Smith BartSmith@--- Calum Smith cbsmith@--- Eric Smith eric@--- Greg Smith gsmith@--- Tim Smith tzs@--- John Smyth xy3@--- Henry Soenarko soenarko@--- Guy G. Sotomayor, Jr. ggs@--- Dave Souza souza@--- Spalding spalding@--- Ziv Speiser xor@--- Jeff and Mary Spencer spencer@--- Startide startide@--- Don Sterner dsterner1@--- Jon Stewart jstewart@--- Deirdre' Straughan deirdre_straughan@--- Kees Stravers pb0aia@--- Gregg Strawbridge audubon@--- Jan Strous jan@--- Ron Stuurman rons@--- Steven Sullivan ssully@--- Sybren S.J.Hettinga@--- Nagy Szabolcs nagysz@--- Bob Talbert btalbert@--- Johann Taucher Johann.Taucher@--- Thomas Tempelmann thomas_tempelmann@--- Paula Terrell paula@--- John Tessier support@--- tethys tethys@--- Gregory Theulings marcomlo.pkm@--- Kevin Patrick Thibedeau thibedek@--- Lorin Thwaits lthwaits@--- Tim timrush@--- Hock Toh transx@--- Martin Trautmann traut@--- tRIs sis5264@--- Tung Cheng Tsai thlx@--- Louis Tumbao tumbao@--- Dave Ulmer david_ulmer@--- Rich Unger rbu1@--- Doug V. dutchman@--- S Valdez svaldez@--- Chris Valentine c.p.valentine@--- Vo, Charles H. st3wr@--- Greg Volk gvolk@--- Gilles Vollant 100144.2636@--- Jon Wadelton eden@--- Andreas Walfort andreas.walfort@--- Kevin J. Walsh Walsh@--- Michael Walker mwalker@--- Mark Warbington markoni@--- Stephen Warren swarren@--- Carl Weaver ckw@--- Gerald E. Weber geweber@--- Lauren Weinstein lauren@--- Jerome H. Whelan whelanj@--- Royce White rwhite@--- James B. Wilkinson jimmy@--- Nic Wilson nicw@--- Julien Wolf Julien.Wolf@--- Klaus Woltereck kw42@--- Roy Worthington royw@--- Joachim Worringen zdv181@--- Deidra Young D.Young@--- Yvon yvonus@--- Stefek Zaba s@--- Gero Zahn gero@--- Oliver Zechlin oliver.zechlin@--- Zohar Ziv zziv@--- OSTA CD-R Q&A My humble apologies to anyone I've omitted. ++ATM 20080429 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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