Make Sense of CDs and DVDs in Windows 10 - dummies

Make Sense of CDs and DVDs in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

The way in which your computer handles CDs and DVDs isn’t much different in Windows 10. Although Windows 10 can handle simple disc-burning tasks, it’s extraordinarily awkward at duplicating discs. Most people give up quickly and buy third-party disc-burning software.

Writing to CDs and DVDs

Most computers today write information to CDs and DVDs by using a flameless approach known as burning. To see whether you’re stuck with an older drive that can’t burn discs, first remove any discs from inside the drive. Then from the desktop, double-click the taskbar’s File Explorer icon and look at the icon for your CD or DVD drive.

Because computers always speak in secret code, here’s what you can do with the disc drives in your computer:

  • DVD-RW: These drives both read and write to CDs and DVDs.


  • BD-ROM: These can read and write to CDs and DVDs, plus they can read Blu-ray discs.


  • BD-RE: Although these have the same icon as BD-ROM drives, they can read and write to CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.

If your PC has two CD or DVD burners, tell Windows which drive you want to handle your disc-burning chores: Right-click the drive, choose Properties, and click the Recording tab. Then choose your favorite drive in the top box.

Buying the right kind of blank CDs and DVDs for burning

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-Rs 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 stick their burned disc into the car’s stereo or stash it as a backup.

  • CD-RW: Techies sometimes buy CD-RWs for making temporary backups of data. You can write information to them, just as you can with CD-Rs. But when a CD-RW 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. Most DVD burners sold in the past few years can write to any type of blank CD or DVD.

Buying blank DVDs for older drives is chaos: The manufacturers fought over which storage format to use, confusing things for everybody. To buy the right blank DVD, check your computer’s receipt to see what formats its DVD burner needs: DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, or DVD+RW.

  • Discs come rated by their speed. For faster disc burning, buy the largest number “x” speed you can find, usually 52x for CDs and 16x for DVDs.

  • Blank CDs are cheap; borrow one from a neighbor’s kid to see whether it works in your drive. If it works fine, buy some of the same type. Blank DVDs, by contrast, are more expensive. Ask the store whether you can return them if your DVD drive doesn’t like them.

  • Blank Blu-ray discs cost a lot more than CDs or DVDs. Luckily, Blu-ray drives aren’t very picky, and just about any blank Blu-ray disc will work.

  • For some odd reason, Compact Discs and Digital Video Discs are spelled as discs, not disks.

  • It’s currently illegal to make duplicates of movie DVDs in the United States — even to make a backup copy in case the kids scratch up the new Disney DVD. Windows can’t copy DVDs on its own, but some programs on websites from other countries can handle the job.