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These are intended to be brief (if somewhat incomplete) answers to basic questions. More detailed information can be found later in the FAQ. For example, section (1-5), "How much can they hold?", is answered in far more detail in section (7-6).
CD-R is short for "CD-Recordable". Recordable CDs are WORM (Write Once, Read Multiple) media that work just like standard CDs. The advantage of CD-R over other types of optical media is that you can use the discs with a standard CD player. The disadvantage is that you can't reuse a disc.
A related technology called CD-Rewritable (CD-RW) allows you to erase discs and reuse them, but the CD-RW media doesn't work in all players. CD-Rewritable drives are able to write both CD-R and CD-RW discs.
All CD recorders can read CDs and CD-ROMs, just like a standard CD-ROM drive.
CD-ROMs and music CDs you commonly find in stores are pressed from a glass mold. CD-Rs are burned with a laser. They may look different (often green, gold, or blue instead of silver), they're less tolerant of extreme temperatures and sunlight, and they're more susceptible to physical damage. Whether CD-Rs or pressed CDs last longer is difficult to answer.
While they're not physically identical, they work just the same. Some CD players and CD-ROM drives aren't as good at reading CD-R and CD-RW discs as they are at reading pressed CDs, but by and large they work just fine.
By the way, you can't record on pressed discs, so you might as well throw out all those AOL CD-ROMs you've been accumulating (or try one of the suggestions in section (7-9)). Buying a bunch of old CDs in the hopes of writing new stuff onto them is a bad idea. For similar reasons you can't record on DVD media, not even DVD-R and DVD+RW, unless your drive explicitly supports the DVD formats. You have to buy blank CD-R or CD-RW media.
Yes. You can create CD-ROMs from data on your hard drive, and you can create new audio CDs from anything you can record into a WAV or AIFF sound file. With an audio-only CD-Recorder, which hooks up to your stereo system instead of your computer, you can record directly from CD, cassette, DAT, or whatever.
The CD-ROMs you produce will play in ordinary CD-ROM drives, and the audio CDs you create will work in your home or car CD player.
Writing to CD-Rs and CD-RWs requires a CD recorder. You can't write CDs with an ordinary CD-ROM drive.
One of the more popular things to do with a CD recorder is make copies of old cassettes and LPs. See section (3-12) for information about this.
Yes, both audio and data CDs can be duplicated. You can even create audio CDs that are compilations of other audio CDs (perhaps a personal "best of" disc).
Bear in mind that most CDs are protected by copyright laws.
Commonly available blanks hold either 74 or 80 minutes of music, which works out to 650MB and 700MB of data, respectively.
See section (7-6) for more info.
Yes and no. The process can be a bit more involved than that, and requires software that (usually) comes bundled with the drive.
With "packet writing" software, and a recorder that supports it, you can treat a CD-R or CD-RW disc like a floppy. On a CD-R you can only write to each part of the disc once, so deleting files doesn't free up any space. There are other limitations as well.
With more traditional software -- necessary if you want broad compatibility -- you usually end up writing everything to the disc all at once. When you're doing the writing you can't interrupt the drive, and you can't reclaim the space you've used. If you want to write your files in smaller bunches, you lose a fair bit of space every time you stop and start again.
Nothing. This FAQ is about CD-R and CD-RW, and only crosses over into DVD when the two technologies rub up against each other.
To learn more about DVD, see section (2-14) and read the DVD FAQ at http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html. For DVD recorders, check out the Usenet newsgroup alt.video.dvdr and perhaps rec.video.dvd.tech.
Not directly. CD and DVD are very different formats, so you can't write DVDs with your CD recorder. You may be able to convert the contents into a lower-quality format though. Be wary of scams. See section (3-49).
There are devices now that can record both DVD-R and CD-R. Those are usually advertised as "DVD recorders", not "CD recorders".
I don't know. I don't track prices. There are web sites dedicated to finding the lowest prices, and you can do a little research with a web browser, starting perhaps with the vendors listed in section (8-3).
Yes, from the manual that comes with your recorder and software. There's no information of this type in the FAQ because there are far too many permutations of hardware and software, and the instructions would have to be updated with every new release of the software.
Yup. You can download MP3s, write them to a CD, and play it in anything that handles audio CDs. In fact, many of the popular CD recording programs will decode the MP3s for you.
It's also possible to take songs from a CD and convert them to MP3s for use in an MP3 player.
Section (3-27) has more details.
There are some good glossaries on the web, though they're becoming harder to find. Here are a few.
You only need "music" blanks if you have a "consumer" stand-alone audio CD recorder. If you have a recorder attached to your computer or a "professional" deck then the "music" blanks will work no better or worse than "data" blanks.
See section (7-17) for details.
This FAQ contains a great deal of information, but it's geared toward answering specific questions rather than providing a general education. Some of the other net resources are more like a tutorial than a Q&A list, and may provide a better starting point.
Mike Richter has a primer on CD-R at http://www.mrichter.com/.
Roxio has some good information at http://www.roxio.com/en/support/.
If you're new to CD recording and are feeling a little lost, you may want to buy a book on the subject. Try one of these:
You may be reading an out-of-date copy of the FAQ. Some sites like to make a copy of the FAQ with the version, date, and contact information stripped off the top (in violation of section (0-1)), which makes it hard to tell when it was last updated. The FAQ is updated about once a month, and the most recent version is always available from http://www.cdrfaq.org/.
If you are reading the current version, either the section hasn't been updated in a while (check the date in the section), or something has slipped past me.
If you want news articles updated daily, try the sites in section (8-4).
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FAQ Copyright © 2006 by Andy McFadden. All Rights Reserved.