Buy the Right CDs and DVDs for Burning with Windows 8 - dummies

Buy the Right CDs and DVDs for Burning with Windows 8

By Andy Rathbone

If your PC has two CD or DVD burners, tell Windows 8 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.

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 stick their burned disc into the car’s stereo or stash it as 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. 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.

  • Although Windows 8 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.

  • 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 8 can’t copy DVDs on its own, but some programs on websites from other countries can handle the job.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.