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CD/DVD/Blu-ray Optical Disc Drives/Writers - Page 1


This page - First page of CD/DVD/Blu-ray Optical Disc Drives/Writers.

Internal IDE and External USB Floppy Disk Drives [On Page 2 of this section]

The other two articles of Disk/Disc Drives:

Internal Hard Disk and SSD Drives

External Hard Disk Drives

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Click here! to go to information on this site on Network Storage

USB Flash Drives

Click here! to go to information on this site on USB Flash Drives

IDE, SATA and SCSI CD/DVD/Blu-ray Optical Disc Drives

IDE DVD-RW drive and packaging


Click here! to visit the page on this site devoted to CD/DVD drive/writer problems and their solutions.


Click here! to go to information on this site on what you need to consider when upgrading a PC's CD/DVD drive.

Introduction to optical drives and their media (discs)

Note that an optical disc is spelt with a c not a k as in disk, which is used in the terms hard disk drive and floppy disk drive.

The internal optical disc drives in desktop PCs and laptop PCs are currently of two types - DVD writers that can read all the different DVD formats and write to all or most of the CD- and DVD-disc formats, which use the IDE/ATAPI or the SATA connection interfaces and Blu-ray writers that can read and write to all or most of the CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc formats.

Blu-ray writers still cost about four or five or more times the cost of a DVD writer (in May 2012), so will only be provided by higher-end desktop and laptop PCs. You can currently buy a good-quality Sony, Samsung, Plextor, LiteOn, Asus Blu-ray drives from between £50 and £80. I have just seen a Panasonic drice costing £140, but there is no need to spend more than £20 for DVD drive, with most of them costing between £12 and £15.

Note that it is best to use the disc's plastic cover that usually comes with paper sleeve to make a record of the contents and/or number the discs and keep a separate record of the contents. I have used a marker pen with no adverse results, but I have read reports that the ink of used by felt-tip pens is solvent-based and can degrade discs. If you use a marker pen, the ink can be difficult to remove, so it is better to use a circular stick-on label, especially with rewritable discs. If you need to remove the ink, use nothing more than washing-up liquid, certainly not a solvent, which will damage the disc. Some users say that a sticker makes the disc unstable, but I have never experienced any problems with circular stickers. Using a square label meant for a folder might make the disc unstable due to the uneven coverage of the paper over the disc. If you want the discs to be accessible over a long period (more than two years), it is best to use high-quality gold-based discs.

My top three manufacturers of DVD and Blu-ray dics are: 1. - Tiayo Yuden (recently bought by JVC) 2. - Verbatim (produced by Ritek) 3. - Sony.

Note also that currently no version of Windows, not even Windows 7, supports Blu-ray burning or playback. Third-party software is required, such as PowerDVD 9 (or higher version) for playback only. Some free burning and playback software is available, information about which is provided further down this page.

Windows XP does not support DVD-burning or playback, so third-party software, such as the free VLC is required for playback (free burners are also available), but Windows Vista Home Premium (only the versions that provide the Media Center provide DVD playback) and Windows 7 Home Premium (and higher versions) support both DVD-burning and playback. The version of Windows Media Player that is installed with Vista and Windows 7 can burn data to the various recordable DVD discs and the version of Windows Movie Maker can be used to create DVD movies.

How can I enable the DVD Library in Windows Media Center on a Windows Vista-based computer? -

Here are the specifications for the LiteOn iHAS524 DVD writer, showing the CD/DVD disc formats that it reads and writes to:

LiteOn iHAS524 review [Specifications] -

Here are the specifications for the LiteOn iHBS212 Blu-ray writer, showing the CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc formats that it reads and writes to:

LiteOn iHBS212 review [Specifications] -

Note that if you have a desktop or laptop PC and you want to upgrade the DVD writer to a Blu-ray writer, unless the motherboard supports both the IDE and SATA interfaces, you have to find out which interface the current drive uses (IDE or SATA) and buy a Blu-ray drive that uses the same interface if you don't want to buy an IDE-to-SATA converter that allows you to use an SATA drive on an IDE interface (or an IDE drive on an SATA interface).

Ultra SATA to IDE and IDE to SATA Adapter Review [Video] -

But you have to buy a drive of the correct interface for a laptop PC, because you cannot change its internal wiring. In fact, upgrading a laptop to a Blu-ray writer can be problematic regardless of whether the laptop supports the IDE or the SATA standard, so a portable external USB Blu-ray drive or writer that uses one of the laptop's USB ports is probably a better option. (Note that internal IDE PATA Blu-ray drives are not easy to find and buy for both desktop and laptop PCs and that situation will worsen with time, because the SATA interface has almost replaced the IDE interface. Of course, if you buy a laptop or a desktop PC (not just the base unit of a desktop PC) that has a Blu-ray drive/writer, it will have the HDCP copy-protected graphics capability provided by the graphics card and monitor/screen that allows it to play Blu-ray movies.

Adding Blu-ray to a [laptop] notebook computer -

You can use the search query ide to sata converter in a search box to find local vendors.

A suitable video-graphics card (or integrated chip on the desktop or laptop computer's motherboard) and monitor is required for Blu-ray playback and you should have a high-definition TV if you output the playback to a TV. Blu-ray movies have High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) copy protection that requires the support of both the graphics card and the monitor.

The following two webpages should provide you with all the information that you need to know. To find alternative information, enter the search query system requirements for blu-ray playback in a search engine.

Is Your PC High Definition DVD Ready? -

Download BD & 3D Advisor -

More information is provided on Blu-ray discs and writers further down this page.

Each of the following is a different CD or DVD standard/format: CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD+R, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW DL, DVD-R DL, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD RAM. Only the CD-ROM and DVD-ROM standards are not recordable. -R and +R mean that the disc can be recorded to only once, and -RW and +RW mean that the disc is rewritable (can be written to hundreds or thousands of times). The DL stands for Dual Layer, which means that the disc has two recordable layers on the same side that doubles its capacity. If you need to know the capacity of a particular format immediately, enter a suitable search query in a search engine, such as: capacity dvd+r dl. The first link probably goes to a Wikipedia page devoted to that format.

CD/DVD drives allow software/data to be installed/copied from CD/DVD discs, or allow software/data to be written to and read from recordable CD/DVD discs. A CD/DVD writer can write data to the recordable disc formats that it supports and read data from the disc formats that it supports.

CD-ROM and DVD-ROM discs are not written (burned), they are pressed in the same way as vinyl records are. The ROM stands for Read-Only Memory, which means that the discs can only be read, not written to.

There are several recordable CD and DVD disc formats - CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM. Your desktop PC or laptop PC must have a CD/DVD writer/drive in order to be able to write data to recordable discs.

Note that a CD drive cannot read DVD discs, but most DVD drives can read both CD and DVD discs. CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives can only read CDs or DVDs respectively. A CD-ROM drive cannot read DVD-ROM discs; a DVD-ROM drive is required. There are DVD writers (recorders) that can read from and write to all of the disc formats, but a CD writer can only write data to CD-R (record-once) discs, and CD-RW (recorded to many times) discs.

Whichever type of disc you choose to use (the write-once CD-R, DVD-R and DVD+R are are far more popular than the rewritable discs (CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM), you should always buy brand-named discs that the manufacturer of the drive recommends for your PC's CD/DVD writer/drive.

I have used write-once DVD-R discs since the standard's early days. At first I bought cheap no-brand discs and paid the price for that - discs that I could not read only a few weeks after burning them. Then I switched to using brand-name discs - Verbatim, Maxell, Sony, TDK, Imation, Memorex, etc. - which I have been using for five or more years with very few problems.

The difference in price between different makes of DVD writer is due to the build quality, although it is difficult to buy a bad a DVD-RW drive these days. Unless you are only looking at Blu-ray drives, then any optical DVD burner you buy is likely to be of good quality. However, if you want the best quality, you should be looking at drives made by Pioneer or Plextor. Drives of mid-range quality would be Samsung or Sony, NEC and Sony Optiarc. All of the makes of DVD writer have risen to a certain level of features and reasonable quality, probably due to the arrival of the Blu-ray optical-drive standard. That is, there is no innovation in DVD burners anymore, so they all are competing on pretty equal terms.

Quality, brand-name optical CDs and DVD discs (including Blu-ray discs) are probably still the best option for long-term storage of data. If the discs don't have labels glued on to them and are stored in a dark place at normal residential heat and humidity levels, most estimates give them a minimum lifespan of 5 to 10 years. I have tested some 10-year-old CDs that worked 100%.

If the discs are kept in carefully controlled data-center or museum-quality storage conditions (in dark, dry, low-temperature conditions) the lifespan of recordable optical discs can be very much longer — from 30 to 100 years.

The Blu-ray and HD DVD disc standards

Sony's Blu-ray high-definition disc standard has beaten Toshiba's HD-DVD standard in the high-definition war, so it is not advisable to buy a HD DVD writer/player, because Toshiba is no longer developing it, but the disc manufacturers will be making HD-DVD discs available for as long as the demand warrants doing so.

Blu-ray writers are currently much more expensive than DVD writers - at least four to five times more expensive (in March 2011). A good DVD writer currently costs £20 or less and a Blu-ray writer costs between £100 and £200 and most of them can also read and write to the recordable CD and DVD disc formats. Note that at the time of writing this (March 2011), both internal and external IDE ATAPI and SATA Blu-ray drives/writers were available for desktop and laptop PCs.

Here is an example:

LiteOn iHBS212 Blu-ray writer - £110 (September 2010) - Supported disc formats and writing speeds:

Quoted read formats: CD-ROM 48X - DVD-ROM 16X - DVD-ROM dual layer 16X - DVD-RAM 12X - Blu-ray BD-ROM 8X

Quoted write formats: CD-R 48X - CD-RW 24X - DVD+R 16X - DVD+RW 8X - DVD-R 16X - DVD-RW 6X - DVD+R DL 8X - DVD-R DL 8X - DVD-RAM 12X - Blu-ray BD-R 12X - BD-R DL 8X - BD-RE 2X - BD-RE DL 2X

The new Blu-ray standard, created by Sony, also has write-once (BD-R) and rewritable (BD-RE) discs. Single and dual layer (DL) discs are available that have capacities of 25GB and 50GB respectively.

Note that there is now a new specification of Blu-ray disc called BDXL, the discs of which can store up to 100GB or 128GB of data. The new specification supports both rewritable and write-once formats, but currently (Sept. 2011) only the write-once discs are available, priced very high compared to standard recordable Blu-ray discs. For example, a 100GB 4X BDXL write-once disc made by TDK currently costs around a staggering £85, which works out at 85p per GB. A 500GB external hard disk drive costing around £50 works out at a cost of only 10p per GB. A Blu-ray writer that supports BDXL currently costs around £150, which is two to three times the cost of a standard Blu-ray writer. Note that current Blu-ray drives can't read BDXL discs. However, firmware updates can make doing so possible.

50GB is enough storage for 9 hours of HD movies, 23 hours of standard definition content, or 72 CDs on a single disc. Moreover, Blu-ray Disc gives you playback of MPEG2, the native compression technique for HDTV broadcasts, or even more capacity with advanced codes such as AVC.

LiteOn iHBS212 [Blu-ray writer] review [Review Date: 9 Sep 2010] -

Excellent free CD, DVD, Blu-ray disc-burning software

Ashampoo Burning Studio Free is excellent disc-burning software, available free from the program's download page on CNET's -

This burning software does not require much hard-disk space, is relatively simple to use and rips and burns recordable CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs reliably in all of the standard video, audio, and data formats. It supports all of the current versions of Windows, even Windows 7, released officially on October 22, 2009. However, it doesn't support Blu-ray playback, which the website providing the free DAPlayer by Digiarty Software says that it does.

How to burn data and ISO files to recordable CD/DVD discs in Windows 7

Click here! to find out how to use the burning software built into Windows 7 to burn CDs and DVD, but not Blu-ray Discs, which Win7 does not support - a third-party tool is required.

Note that Windows 8 does not support DVD or Blu-ray Disc burning. Microsoft is giving the disc-burning-software industry a break. CDBurnerXP is a free tool that burns all of the types of disc. -

Rewritable discs: How many times can a CD-RW/DVD-RW/DVD+RW/BD-RE disc be written to/rewritten?

Currently, CD-RW discs can be rewritten approximately a 1,000 times. A DVD+RW or a DVD-RW disc is very similar to a CD-RW disc with regard to the number of times that it can be rewritten. However, as with CD-RW discs, in practice the number of times will probably be much higher and vary between the brand-name makes of disc. Blu-ray rewritable discs (Blu-ray Disc Rewritable discs) are designated by BD-RE (not BD-RW in the way that CD-RW and DVD-RW/DVD+RW are used for the CD/DVD rewritable standards). The BD-RE specifications require that the discs, at minimum, should be rewritable at least 1,000 times. However, different materials, designs, and fabrications may allow a greater number of rewrites. Some, but not all of the BD-RE disc manufacturers, specify that their discs are capable of 10,000 or more rewrites.

How to identify the make and model of a CD/DVD drive and the disc formats that it supports

If you want to find out which formats a particular CD or DVD writer supports, you can usually identify its make and model in the Windows Device Manager under the DVD/CD-ROM drives category of devices, and then enter that information enclosed within double quotation marks in a search engine to find links to specifications and reviews. If it is not identified in the Device Manager, you can use a free utility, such as the Belarc Advisor from

Alternatively, most CD/DVD writers that are purchased come with writing (burning) software, such as Nero Express, that also installs the Nero Toolkit, which contains the Nero InfoTool that provides information and technical specifications on a particular CD/DVD writer and the disc formats that it supports. The toolkit also provides the Nero CD-DVDSpeed and the Nero DriveSpeed utilities that measure reading and writing speeds. Other CD/DVD writing software bundled with CD/DVD drives probably also provides similar tools. The information provided by the Nero InfoTool is show below. The letters DL stand for Double Layer, which means that discs in that format that have two layers instead of just one are supported. More information is provided on all of these disc formats further down this page.

The information provided on CD/DVD drives and writers by the Nero InfoTool

Unfortunately, it is now assumed that most PC users have DVD drives/writers and players, not CD drives and players. The following pages provide disc-compatibility information on a huge number of DVD drives/writers and players:

DVD Writer and Blu-ray Writer list -

DVD Player and Blu-ray Player list -

Are Do-It-All CD/DVD Packages Worth It? -

"The packages we will look at are used for creating, compiling and burning CDs and DVDs: whether to create the ultimate mix, to immortalize home videos, build looping slide shows with music and voice-overs or simply to keep ancient vinyl or tape recordings alive. As far as we can tell, the race is on between Nero and Corel/Roxio to take the top spot in this latest go-round of "Clash of the Titans." Fortunately for consumers, this kind of battle offers tremendous value and lots of outstanding capability for a relatively small amount of money..." -


AVI video files play on my PC's DVD writer but won't play on my DVD player - "I have some stuff [AVI video files] on DVD that plays fine on my computer but will not work on my DVD Player, other than mucking about trying to convert files what is the cheapest way for me to get these to play on the TV other than connecting my computer to the TV (that is if it is possible to connect it)?" -,92244.0.html

This development was essential because modern software uses tens and hundreds of times as much hard-disk-drive and optical disc space as the software that was developed to run on 4 to 8MB of RAM memory and the MS DOS and its graphical user interface (GUI) Windows 3.x operating systems. Windows 3.1 was supplied on eight compressed floppy disks. Compare that with the compressed CD-ROM disc that the retail version Windows XP is supplied on. The full program would not fit on a single CD without being compressed. Windows XP Professional and Linux are stored on several CDs, or on one DVD-ROM disc. All of the versions of Windows Vista comes on a single DVD-ROM disc.

Like hard disk drives, optical CD/DVD drives use the IDE (ATAPI), the SATA, or the SCSI interfaces. Most new optical DVD and Blu-ray drives used in PCs now use the SATA interface, but IDE (ATAPI) drives are still available because of the huge number of ageing PCs that use them.

ATAPI stands for Advanced Technology Application Programming Interface. Any CD drive specified as IDE ATAPI will work on a PC capable of running an IDE PATA hard disk drive.

An excellent CD/DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray burning application

CDBurnerXP Pro - Before you spend money on a third-party tool, try the excellent free program CDBurnerXP Pro from To fund themselves, most free programs now have an option to install a toolbar and/or software of some sort, such as a web browser, and some of them install by default software that you might not want, so read all of the information that is provided during the installation. This program just requires you to opt in to the installation of a toolbar. A previous free burner that I used without any problems long ago recently installed in-line advertising software without any option to decline the installation that made in-line adverts appear in the text on the pages opened with all of the web browsers I had installed. I had to get rid of it by using System Restore to restore a restore point that predated the installation.

SATA optical CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives

March 12 , 2011. - Most of the new optical CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives only have the SATA interface that is also the main interface used by hard disk drives in PCs. However, there are still millions of ageing computers that use the older IDE interface for both hard disk drives and optical drives, so IDE drives of both types are still available.

Drive mapping: How to map a network hard disk and/or CD/DVD drive

Drive mapping: "Drive mapping is the way by which Microsoft Windows and OS/2 associate a local drive letter ("A" through "Z") with a shared storage area to another computer over a network. After a drive has been mapped, a software application on a client's computer can read and write files from the shared storage area by accessing that drive, just as if that drive represented a local physical hard disk drive." - That applies to both hard-disk, SSD and CD/DVD/Blu-ray optical drives.

How to connect and disconnect a network drive in Windows XP -

Create a shortcut to (map) a network drive [Windows Vista] -

Bear in mind that Vista's strict security policies can hinder drive mapping. If you run into trouble doing so in Vista, this Technet article may help you solve your difficulty. -

Deploying Group Policy Using Windows Vista -

You can find similar instructions for Windows 7 by using a web search query such as windows 7 mapping a network drive.

CD drives come as standard CD-ROM (read-only), CD-R (recordable only once), and CD-RW (re-writable - many times) drives.

CD-R and DVD+/-R writers and blank discs are now incredibly cheap. You will not be able to find a less expensive way to archive and store large amounts of data - safely and long-lastingly.

Most DVD writers can record to CD-R and CD-RW discs, play DVD-ROM discs and write to DVD-R/DVD+R and DVD-RW/DVD+R discs. Some, but not all DVD writers can also write to DVD-RAM discs. The DVD-RAM format has built-in error control and a defect management system. The structure of a DVD-RAM disc is similar to hard-disk and floppy- disk technology, as it also stores data in concentric tracks. The data on DVD-RAM discs is accessed and can be erased in the same way as it is on a hard disk drive or floppy disk and usually without any special software.

As with CD/DVD PC drives, the CD/DVD players that are available as portable units, in music centres and as car players should be able to read all of the current CD/DVD formats.

How to install a CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive/writer

It is easy to install any type of optical drive in a desktop PC - CD, DVD, Blu-ray drive. You open the case and screw the drive into a large drive bay in the PC case so that its face shows at the front of the case. You then attach the data cable to the drive and to the motherboard. The motherboard's user manual will show you where the IDE PATA or SATA ports are. Blu-ray writers/drives in desktop and laptop PCs can use an SATA or an IDE connection. An IDE-to-SATA converter allows you to use an SATA drive on an IDE interface (or an IDE drive on a SATA interface) in a desktop PC (not a laptop PC that can only use a replacement drive of the same IDE or SATA standard that the original drive uses).

Ultra SATA to IDE and IDE to SATA Adapter Review [Video] -

A user manual can be downloaded from the motherboard manufacturer's website. Note that older motherboards might not support the SATA standard, the first version of which came out in 2003. Most motherboards that support SATA have at least one legacy IDE ATA port, which many CD/DVD drives still use.

If you don't know the make and model of the motherboard installed in your computer, a good free utility - Belarc Advisor - creates an analysis of the hardware and software on a personal computer. Look under FREE DOWNLOAD on Another utility that also provides detailed information on the motherboard (processor and memory) is CPU-Z from

Then all you have to do is attach a power cable from the power supply to the drive and connect the sound cable from the drive to a header on motherboard, the position of which will be shown in its user manual.

DVD Drive Install [IDE ATA/ATAPI connection not SATA connection] -

Adding Blu-ray to your desktop computer [SATA Blu-ray writer. You would install an SATA CD/DVD drive in the same way.] -

Adding Blu-ray to a [laptop] notebook computer -

The new Blu-ray Disc (BD) and HD DVD high-definition formats

Blu-ray Disc (BD) is one of two optical disc formats designed to replace the current DVD format. The other competing format is HD DVD. Both of the new formats store High Definition (HD) movies.

Sony is the developer of the Blu-ray format and Toshiba developed the HD-DVD format. I have used the past tense for the HD DVD format because Blu-ray has won the HD war. Toshiba has announced that it will be killing its HD DVD format off. There is now only one HD format, so consumers have no choice but to buy it if they want HD content.

The Blu-ray format has the most support from the movie studios and the drive/player manufacturers, It therefore looks as if it will triumph over the HD DVD format, so I will explain it briefly here.

Blu-ray drives use a laser that uses blue light that can pack more data on to a DVD-sized disc that the DVD format can. A single-layer DVD-sized disc can store up to 25GB and a dual-layer disc can store up to 50GB of data. However, Pioneer has produced experimental Blu-ray discs that can store a huge 500GB of data by making use of 20 layers, which should be made available in a few years' time.

Pioneer Increases [Blu-ray] Disc Size to 500GB -

"August 5, 2008.- "About a month ago, Pioneer announced that they had developed a 400GB Blu-ray Disc. Not satisfied that they had exhausted all avenues, they continued developed and found a way to add four additional layers, bringing the total disc capacity to 500GB. As with the 400GB version, the disc is compatible with current Blu-ray drives found in computers, players, and recorders." -

Blu-ray drives and discs for the PC are available, but they are very much more expensive than comparable DVD discs. The drives can read dual-layer discs, but can currently only write to the 25GB recordable discs - BD-R (write once) or BD-RE (rewritable) - and have a formatted capacity of 22GB. Recordable DVDs are therefore still much better value.

Windows XP and Windows Vista does not support Blu-ray playback or recording. To play a Blu-ray movie therefore requires third-party software made by companies such as Cyberlink (CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra) and Roxio. If your PC came with a Blu-ray writer, it should have the writing software pre-installed. If you buy a Blu-ray writer/drive, it should come with writing software.

The prices of Blu-ray players, drives/writers, and discs (media) are currently (March 2008) very much higher than the prices for comparable DVD players, drives/writers and discs. You can find out what the latest prices are by entering a suitable search query (blu-ray discs, bd-r, bd-re, blu-ray writers, etc.) in a search engine.

"Welcome to, your source for everything related to Blu-ray Disc (BD). We offer Blu-ray reviews, releases, news, guides and forums covering Blu-ray movies, players, recorders, drives, media, software and much more. For more information about Blu-ray, see What is Blu-ray? or the Blu-ray FAQ."

Blu-ray Basics: Using The High-Definition DVD Format On Your PC -

"Now that Sony's Blu-ray has won the next-gen DVD war against Toshiba's HD DVD, find out whether it's worth adding to your PC, for entertainment and data storage." -

Can my PC/computer play high-definition (HD) Blu-ray movies?

It is a common assumption that only a computer Blu-ray writer such as the Pioneer BDR-202 is required to watch (high-definition) HD movies. However, both the PC's video/graphics card and its processor must be powerful enough. The PC should have at least a 2GHz dual-core processor and a video/graphics card that supports PureVideo HD (Nvidia video cards) or Avivo HD (ATI/AMD video cards). The video card or motherboard should also have a DVI or HDMI output port that supports HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). Blu-ray movies won't play on computers that are not HDCP-compliant. However, note that HDCP content protection appears to have been cracked.

Seeing the big picture on content - "The only real surprise about the news that HDCP has been compromised was that it took so long. The 'high bandwidth copy protection' scheme has been in use since 2004 even though the possibility that someone would be able to reconstruct the master key by examining HDCP-capable devices was known even before any systems were commercially available." -

Playback software, such as CyberLink PowerDVD is also a requirement. The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard has integrated ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics that are powerful enough for Blu-ray playback. The graphics has its own dedicated 256MB of graphics memory. Most integrated graphics solutions make use of system RAM memory installed on the motherboard. That Gigabyte motherboard was priced at only L64 in March 2008. Note that you should not buy a desktop PC or laptop PC that has integrated/onboard graphics (graphics chip) built into the motherboard) unless you know that the graphics is powerful enough to play Blu-ray movies.

Superfast online movie downloads will be competing with movies on Blu-ray discs to the extent that the Blu-ray standard might be be marginalised.

There are news articles on both of the HD formats in the next item.


Verbatim's faster blank Blu-ray rewritable double-layer discs with double capacity due out in June 2008

March 8, 2008. - Optical CD/DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray disc manufacturer, Verbatim, has announced a new range of blank Blu-ray high-definition discs that will be available in June 2008. Current single-layer rewritable Blu-ray BD-RE discs can only store up to 25GB of data, but Verbatim's new double-layer rewritable discs can store up to 50GB of data. However, they will be limited to 2x write speeds, which is slow compared to the current write speeds of DVD rewritable discs that operate at between 4x and 8x. Verbatim's other new products include 25GB single-layer, single-use BD-R discs that can be written to at 6x, and 25GB single-layer rewritable BD-RE discs that can be written to at 4x. This is an improvement compared to current 25GB single-layer, write-once and rewritable Blu-ray discs which are limited to 4x and 2x respectively. Verbatim says that its write-once discs have a shelf life that should exceed fifty years and that it will continue selling blank HD-DVD discs for players that support Toshiba's defunct high-definition standard as long as there is demand from consumers. Verbatim will not be developing faster or higher capacity HD-DVD discs, because Toshiba has announced that it has stopped developing the technology.

Sony beats Toshiba in the high-definition format war

February 20, 2008. - Yesterday, the news agency Reuters reported that Toshiba is moving to cut impending losses and kill off its HD DVD high-definition disc format, leaving Sony's competing Blu-ray high-definition format the winner of the format war. Today, Toshiba made a formal announcement of its withdrawal from the competition. Losing out to Sony is expected to cost Toshiba hundreds of millions of dollars.

This result was inevitable after Warner Brothers, which has the largest share of the global home video market, withdrew its support for the HD DVD format, because, as expected, several other high-profile companies, including Wal-Mart in the US, withdrew their support for the HD DVD format.

Although the HD DVD format has cheaper players and cheaper discs, consumers will now only be able to purchase the more expensive Blu-ray players and discs. The confusion as to which player to buy has at last been ended by this development, but consumers are unlikely to be able to pay HD DVD prices for Blu-ray given that Sony and the manufacturers of Blu-ray players did not drop their prices when the outcome of the format war could not be foreseen.

Toshiba makes it official, abandons HD-DVD format -

Blu-ray future limited for some -

"Owners of Blu-ray DVD players may find themselves frozen out of future developments in the technology because their machines are not upgradable..." -

Warner backs Sony's Blu-ray and drops Toshiba's HD DVD

January 7, 2008. - Warner Brothers has announced that it is to release high-definition movies exclusively in Sony's Blu-ray format. Warner was the only major studio still releasing films in both Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD DVD format. Five studios have opted to release only Blu-ray. Walt Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and, Sony Pictures are the other studios that release movies only in the Blu-ray format. Now only Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures favour HD DVD. Both formats deliver high-definition pictures and sound from discs, and work with HD TVs, however they are not compatible with each other, and neither format plays on standard DVD players. Warner said that it has chosen the Blu-ray format exclusively because 60% of its US high-definition sales in 2007 were in that format. Warner Home Video will stop releasing new titles on HD DVD at the end of May 2008.

Reading, writing, and rewriting speeds

CD-ROM and DVD-ROM drives can only read CDs and DVDs respectively, so they only have a reading speed. A reading speed given as 52x in the specifications means that it is capable of reading 52 times faster than the original CD-ROM drives, which could read at 1x. It's not really important to know how fast the reading speed is, it's just important to know that the higher the number in front of the x is, the faster that particular activity is.

CD and DVD writers have read and write specifications such as this: 52x24x52. The MSI CR52-A2 52x24x52x CD-RW drive has this specification. The first 52x is the speed at which the drive writes to recordable CD/DVDs, the 24x in this case is the rewrite speed, which is how fast the drive can write to rewritable (RW) discs, and the last 52x is how fast the drive can read CD discs.

The MSI 52x24x52 CD-RW offers a 52x write, a 24x rewrite (but 24x RW discs are almost impossible to find), and a 52x read, which is comparable to the other 52x CD-RW's currently being marketed.

Understanding CD-R and CD-RW Recording Speed -

Understanding DVD Recording Speed -

X (writing speed) -

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How long do burned CDs and DVDs last?

The longevity of recorded CDs and DVDs depends on a number of factors, such as the original quality of the discs, the conditions they are stored in (dry, cool conditions are obviously the best, and hot, humid conditions are obviously the worst), and the way in which they they have been labelled. The chemicals of some stick-on labels are known to destroy the top layer of the disc, which contains the information. But using a felt-tip marker to write on the top surface of a disc doesn't harm it in any way. The same is true of CD and DVD discs that are labelled by a printer that can make use of LightScribe technology to do so.

The Optical Storage Technology Association website goes into great detail about CD-R and CD-RW and recordable and rewritable DVD technology.

Data and "music" CDs

Blank recordable CDs that are labelled as "music" discs are specifically intended for use with consumer, stand-alone audio CD recorders. If you're using a standard computer CD burner, there's no need to worry about the label; you can use both types.

The RIAA worked with manufacturers of stand-alone, audio-only CD recorders to create a "special" type of audio disc so that it could receive a small amount of money from the sale of every "music" CD sold.

With regard to blank recordable CD/DVDs, avoid buying packs of cheap, no-brand-name discs unless you're not worried about the lifespan of a disc, which in their case is likely to be short. And don't pay extra for "audio" CDs for discs used with a computer's CD burner.

Tom's Hardware Guide and Expert Reviews have both commended Verbatim CD/DVD discs as being the make that is compatible with the most makes of CD/DVD writers.

Cleaning CD/DVD discs and drives

Cleaning a CD or DVD disc with a cloth by using a circular motion can create a curved scratch that might fool the laser that reads the disc. The laser can follow a circular scratch instead of the data track. Skips or misreads can result. The correct method is to wipe across the CD or DVD from its centre out to the circumference so that any accidental scratches are less likely to cause read errors. Of course any kind of scratching of the disc should be avoided. Only soft cleaning cloth should be used, and take care run to rub the surface too hard.

How CDs Work:

The following guide shows how to clean an Xbox DVD drive, but you can use the information for any DVD drive.

"Cleaning your Xbox DVD drive" - an illustrated guide:

Labelling (US: labeling) recorded CD/DVDs: Manual methods and using LightScribe

Stick-on, print-it-yourself labels often ruin the CDs or DVDs that they're stuck on, so don't use stick-on labels - ever - and don't put a lot of ink on any CD or DVD either. If you want to label a back-up, for example, use a fine-point or medium-point felt-tip pen to write the the date, the name of the computer (if you have more than one), and a brief description on the CD. If you need to record more information about what's on a CD, if the disc's container doesn't have an enclosed leaflet that provides space for a description, write it on a piece of paper or a CD storage envelope, which only cost about a penny or two each when purchased in bulk. That simple method of labelling very seldom causes any problems with the CD/DVDs.

If you really want to print on to your CDs and DVDs by using a printer that can handling such a task, which are themselves very affordable now, buy the more expensive brands of blank discs, which often have a protective plastic top coat to help preserve the data-carrying layers. However, cheap CD/DVDs usually have naked foil as the top surface, which is all right for the simple manual labelling method described above, but you should never trust them to any kind of label printer.

CD/DVD writers are now available that can print a label on the label side of a recordable CD/DVD by using LightScribe technology.

CD/DVD writers that support LightScribe technology can etch text and images on to the label side of specially coated LightScribe discs. "The special coating on LightScribe CDs and DVDs is what differentiates it from other media. Look for the LightScribe logo on CDs and DVDs." The latest LightScribe discs have a LightScribe 1.2 logo on their packaging. A CD/DVD writer that supports LightScribe is required, however you don't have to buy a new drive that supports LightScribe 1.2, you just need some LightScribe 1.2 discs, some LightScribe labelling software, which is included in packages such as Nero and Roxio Easy Media Creator, and the latest version of the LightScribe host software from

Writing a label to a disc can take between 20 and 30 minutes using the older discs, but the job can be done in between 4 to 5 minutes using LightScribe 1.2 discs.

If your DVD writer is not functioning properly, check its manufacturer's site for a firmware update for that specific model (it must not be for a any other model of drive).

The free LightScribe Diagnostics Utility from can be used to make sure that the latest LightScribe System Software is properly installed.

If the drive can't etch text or images on to the label side of discs, try using a different brand of LightScribe disc. Also check for updates for your LightScribe labelling program. Ahead Nero and Roxio Easy Media Creator both support that function. Free labelling utilities can be downloaded from the page linked to above.

CD/DVD copy protection

You cannot use DVD-burning software to make copies of DVD movies, because it is illegal to do so, therefore, DVD-burning software cannot legally copy commercial DVDs.

All commercial DVDs are protected by the Content Scrambling System (CSS), and it is illegal to create software that decrypts CSS.

However, DVD-copying software is still useful for use with home movies, which you can make unlimited copies of. Moreover, DVD-copying software can also recode and recompress home movies, which allows you to change the format to suit different playback modes for use on, say, portable media players and CDs.


Note that many new audio CD/DVDs won't play on a computer's CD/DVD drive because they are prevented from doing so by copy-protection measures built into the disks.

You can still use a computer to listen to such discs by plugging, say, a CD player, such as a CD Walkman, into the sound card's line-in port, but you won't be able to use the computer to copy them.

There are also cases of new stereo CD players that won't recognise some CDs, and of audio CDs that play in a stereo hi-fi player, but don't work in in-car CD players that are no more than two years old.

BMG, which is part of the Bertelsmann AG Media corporation and is the third largest music publisher (now owned by Sony) has implemented copy-protection on its audio CDs. Visit for more information and to access the contact information if a BMG CD won't play on your system.

You are advised to contact the publisher and ask for an explanation if you can't play its discs.

Note that I have read of cases in which the copy protection on CD/DVDs have trashed a system and made it unbootable. So, if you have tried to play any kind of copy-protected material on your computer and it suddenly becomes unbootable, try booting from the Windows XP/Vista CD and, if successful, reinstall Windows. Note that in order to boot from a bootable CD/DVD disc, the PC's BIOS must have the CD/DVD drive set as the first boot device.

CD/DVD copy protection -

See the Recovering Windows XP and Recovering Windows Vista and sections of the website for the recovery options for those versions of Windows.

CD Extra

A CD-Extra CD is a multi-session CD containing both computer data and audio files (MP3 and WAV files). The first session contains audio files so that a home or car CD player can play them. The second session contains data that is intended to play from a computer's CD/DVD-ROM drive or CD/DVD writer.

Many music CDs are created as a CD-Extra disc in order to provide music and video on the CD.

A home or car player reads the tracks on the first session but ignores the second (data) session. However, a computer's CD-ROM drive has to read the second session first and so will not start up automatically. If the computer's CD-ROM player is already running when you put the disc in, it will announce that the drive is empty. Therefore, you should insert the disc and then start it up by entering its drive letter in Start => Run (usually D:). The only requirement is that the drive can recognise multi-session CDs. Most CD-ROM drives can - even those over six years old.

How to record/burn CDs and DVDs and Blu-ray discs

Apart from the DVD writers that can use DVD-RAM discs, which can use the CD/DVD burning software built into Windows XP and Windows Vista, and which can be used in the same way as giant floppy disks when they're formatted with the FAT32 file system, CD and DVD writers require special software to "burn" data to them.

Note that Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional can only write directly to DVD-RAM discs formatted with the FAT32 file system. Windows Vista can access and write DVD-RAM discs formatted with FAT32 and UDF file systems, however, Windows Vista uses its own version of the UDF format giving rise to compatibility problems. Windows Vista also has issues with Windows-XP formatted FAT32 discs as Windows Vista uses the CPRM (Content Protection for Recordable Media) features. Only a very few files systems perform well on DVD-RAM because most file systems over-write data on the disc frequently, which includes the table of contents that is placed at the start of the disc.

Read Why can't I write to DVD RAM discs with my LG 4160B DVD writer? on this website for more information on using DVD-RAM discs as giant floppy disks.

16x DVD writers are now very cheap. You canbuy a DVD burner for as little as L15/$30. However, there still are differences in the quality of the drives on the market.

Are Cheap DVD Burners Worth the Trouble? -

"There are various reasons why you might want to purchase a DVD burner for your PC. On one hand, it can serve as a versatile and inexpensive storage device, as recordable DVDs store 4.7 GB on single-layer discs or 8.5 GB of data onto double-layer media (DL). This provides plenty of space for storing your family pictures, wedding videos or other data. On the other hand, DVDs are the most popular medium for digital movies and audio. Most DVD players and recent car audio solutions support audio and video playback of various popular formats, and a single-layer DVD can hold over eight hours of DivX or XviD video in standard definition or 750 MP3 songs in 192 kb/s quality..." -

Most types of blank DVD discs can also be purchased very cheaply (DVD RAM discs aren't cheap), especially if they're unbranded, but experienced burners only purchase brand-name discs, because in that way they can be sure of faster and more reliable results and disks that last a long time. Both Tom's Hardware Guide and Expert Reviews have found discs made by Verbatim to be the most reliable and compatible with the widest range of different drives.

How to record/burn recordable Blu-ray discs

You burn Blu-ray discs in the same way as you burn recordable CD and DVD discs. However, you need to use burning software that is capable of burning to recordable Blu-ray discs. Here is a free program that does the job well:

How to Burn Blu-Ray Discs With ImgBurn -

"Since the Blu-Ray format has won the format war of DVDs, it's worthwhile to find programs that allow you to burn Blu-Ray discs. ImgBurn is a free program (donations accepted) that works very well. After completing the two steps necessary to complete the process, you will be able to make as many copies of Blu-Ray discs as you like." -

You can find other suitable programs by entering a suitable search query, such as burn blu-ray discs, in a search engine.

CD/DVD recording/burning software

The most common burning software that is purchased and bundled with drives is Nero software made by Ahead. But there are many other burning programs, several of which are free downloads.

Free Utilities and Software Tools -

Windows XP has inbuilt CD-burning software, but it can be difficult or problematic to use compared to very user-friendly burning software such as Nero. If you can't get it to work, read Burning CDs in Windows XP here: The article answers the following questions: "How does Win XP's inbuilt CD-burning software work? What are its limitations? How do you work around them, or fix common problems?"

There are two types of CD recording software: packet writing software and standard CD recording software, often called CD burning software or premastering software. One or both types of software can be included with retail CD optical disc drives. OEM drives, supported by the vendor or private PC builder, may or may not come bundled with recording software.

The standard recording software is used like any other tool, such as a backup utility. You select the folder or files that you want to burn to disc, and click on the options that get the job done from within the tool.

Packet writing software installs at the driver level. The Universal Data Format (UDF) used in CD packet writing allows the user to use a CD writer in the same way as a floppy or hard disk drive.

Note that the UDF format is only used for packet writing to CDs. Elsewhere, notably in DVD recording, it has other applications.

With packet-writing software installed, a user can write files to recordable CD discs simply by dragging and dropping the files over the drive's icon in My Computer in Windows XP or placed on the Windows Desktop, or save the files to the drive from within an application, and they should be written to a recordable disc automatically.

Note that My Computer in Windows Vistaand Windows 7 is just called Computer.

Windows XP allows the user to drag-and-drop files to the CD/DVD writer's icon, but it does not packet write them straight to the drive so that they are burned to a disc, it just queues the files so that they can be burned (recorded) to the disc by activating the burning process of a CD/DVD burning program such as Nero.

It is possible to add further files to a disc (multi-session recording) by using software provided by Windows XP. However, packet writing software allows the user to delete specific files on a rewritable disc (RW CD\DVD), reuse space, or open, alter, or save files, just as you can on a floppy or a hard disk, which cannot be achieved by using a feature in Windows XP.

Many DVD software programs, such as Cyberlink Power2Go, allow the user to record data, image, or video files to recordable discs by dragging-and-dropping them on to icons placed on the Windows Desktop.

For more information on UDF and packet writing, visit these pages:

Burning CD/DVDs in Windows Vista and Windows 7

The situation is different in Windows Vista and Windows 7 (the latest versions of Windows). The following link provides information on burning CD/DVDs in Windows 7.

Windows DVD maker -

"Windows DVD Maker has been introduced with Windows Vista and it continues to be present in Windows 7. Unlike with other tools in Windows 7, Windows DVD Maker doesn't have any new major features compared to its Windows Vista counterpart. The differences are cosmetic at best and the tool works the same. In this article I will touch on the following topics: where to find Windows DVD Maker, which file types and discs is supporting, how to customize and burn a DVD and how to solve issues with this too. NOTE: Windows DVD Maker is included only in Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Ultimate ." Windows DVD Maker, is available in Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate. -

Windows DVD Maker -

The following two links provide information on burning CD/DVDs in Windows Vista.

Burn a CD or DVD - Applies to all editions of Windows Vista -

"If your computer includes a CD or DVD recorder, you can copy files to a writeable disc. This process is called burning a disc. By default, Windows burns discs in the Live File System format, but you can also choose to burn discs in the Mastered format. Note: You can use Windows to burn a data disc, which is useful for storing, archiving, and sharing files among different computers. If you want to make a disc that will play in a music or video player, you should burn the disc using a music or video program." -

Which CD or DVD format should I use? - Applies to all editions of Windows Vista -

This page provides a table that describes the different CD or DVD burning options and gives advice on the best disc format to use.

Packet writing software: Save and drag-and-drop directly to CD/DVDs


How can I drag-and-drop and copy files directly to recordable CD and DVD discs in the same way as I can to a hard disk drive? That is, by dragging-and dropping them to the CD/DVD drive without having to start my burning software.


Packet-writing software enables a user to drag-and-drop files to blank recordable CDs or DVDs using Windows Explorer, My Computer in Windows XP (just Computer in Windows Vista and Windows 7), and the standard Save functions from within applications.

There are two leading software packages that can work in that way with most CD/DVD writers. Drag to Disc, which used to be called DirectCD, is part of Roxio's Easy Media Creator. InCD is part of the Nero suite. Both of those packages can use rewritable media to drag-and-drop record, such as CD-RW and DVD-RW discs, but only Roxio's Drag to Disc can write to write-once media, such as CD-R, CD+R, DVD-R, and DVD+R discs by dragging-and-dropping them.

Hardware-based packet writing has been made possible by the Mount Rainier standard, which means that the CD/DVD writers themselves support packet writing. Many CD-RW writers are Mount Rainier compatible, but, so far, very few DVD writers are. Therefore, if you have a DVD writer that doesn't support that standard, you'll have to use packet- writing software, such as Cyberlink Power2Go.

The versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 for home users support the Mount Rainier standard natively, so, if the CD/DVD writer itself supports the standard, you should be able to drag-and-drop files to the CD/DVD writers listed in Computer (in Windows Vista/Windows 7) and Windows Explorer.

CD-Recordable FAQ - - contains all of the information anyone could need on recording to CD-R and CD-RW discs.

If you need other sources of information here are a few good links:

Understanding CD-R and CD-RW Recording Software -

Understanding DVD Recording Speed -

X (writing speed) -

This relevant Q&A on this site is self-explanatory:

If I format a CD-RW disc and drag and drop files to it, would another computer be able to read and write to the same disc?

DVD COPYING SOFTWARE - DVD Copy Software Review -

Internal and external USB/FireWire CD/DVD drives

One or more CD/DVD drives can be installed in a computer's drive bays, in which case they are called internal drives and are connected to the motherboard, or they can be external drives that are attached to the computer via a USB, FireWire, or eSATA port as a peripheral device. As with external hard disk drives, external CD/DVD drives are significantly more expensive than internal drives.

Several of the major internal CD/DVD drive manufacturers make external DVD drives.


Expert Reviews - storage reviews -

The above page on the Expert Reviews website provides reviews on the following storage devices:

  • Internal hard disk drives
  • External hard disk drives
  • DVD/Blu-ray drives
  • Network attached storage
  • USB flash drives

Web searches

If you want more information about any particular make/model of CD/DVD/Blu-ray drive, or to locate local vendors, enter the make and model in a search engine.

Most elderly systems, dating from around 1998 when the Intel Pentium 2 and the AMD K6-2 processors were the top processors, running Windows 98, with 64MB and more of RAM, can be used to operate a CD writer.

But note that an Intel Celeron/Pentium 3 or an AMD Duron/Athlon processor running at 1GHz (1000MHz), or higher, is the minimum amount of processing power that should be used with a DVD writer.

The minimum hardware and software requirements of a particular CD/DVD drive should be written on its packaging, or should be available from its manufacturer's or vendor's site.

CD-RW drives that can also record to CD-R discs are dirt cheap now that DVD writers with their much greater recording capacity per disc are the state of the art. You can buy a very good combo DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive for £20 in the UK.

The software that does the burning of the data to the discs is often bundled with the CD/DVD drive, but it can also be found as free downloads or purchased. The software's or the CD/DVD drive's website will usually provide detailed instructions on how to use it. Here is just one example of such a page provided by the drive manufacturer, Iomega. -

How do I create CDs or DVDs using the software that came with my Iomega® CD-RW (ZipCD 650) or DVD drive? -

Note that re-recordable CD-RW and DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs can be formatted. If they are not formatted they can be used just like CD-R and DVD+R/DVD-R discs except that the files are erasable. - "Now that your disc is formatted, you can drag and drop information directly to your disc [To its icon in My Computer (XP) or Computer (Windows Vista and Windows 7)]. Once the disc is full, you can use it just like a Zip® disk or any other removable media disk and delete single files to free up space. The files you delete will be removed permanently and cannot be recovered."

How do I use DirectCD to format a CD-RW disc in Windows® 95/98/2000/Me or Windows NT -

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