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Buy the Right Kind of Blank CDs and DVDs for Burning

Buy the right kind of blank CDs and DVDs when burning content to them. You can buy blank CDs and DVDs in recordable and rewritable formats.

Stores sell two types of CDs: CD-R (short for CD-Recordable) and CD-RW (short for CD-ReWritable). Here’s the difference:

  • CD-R: Most people buy CD-R discs because they’re very cheap, and they work fine for storing music or files. You can write to them until they fill up; then you can’t write to them anymore. But that’s no problem, because most people don’t want to erase their CDs and start over. They want to stash their burned CD for a backup.

  • CD-RW: Techies sometimes buy CD-RW discs for making temporary backups of data. You can write information to them, just like CD-Rs. But when a CD-RW disc fills up, you can erase it and start over with a clean slate — something not possible with a CD-R. However, CD-RWs cost more money, so most people stick with the cheaper and faster CD-Rs.

DVDs come in both R and RW formats, just like CDs, so the preceding R and RW rules apply to them, as well. Beyond that, it’s chaos: The manufacturers fought over which storage format to use, confusing things for everybody. To buy the right blank DVD, check your DVD burner to see what formats it uses: DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and/or DVD-RAM. (Most new DVD burners support all of the first four formats, making your choice much easier.)

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