How To Burn Files To Disc

Any good business backup advice will tell you to store a copy of important data offsite. Your company can’t have all its eggs in one basket, so to speak. If your only copies of your business data are housed in a single building, what happens if there’s a fire or flood? Offsite backup can take several forms. Online storage is an attractive option these days, despite the occasional news story about an outage or security breach. Even taking home a thumb drive every night is better than nothing, even if it’s kind of risky. For serious offsite protection, however, you might prefer a weekly trip to your bank’s safe deposit box to drop off a backup on some form of portable media. And to avoid the temptation to overwrite the backups of previous weeks-as you might if you use a portable hard drive as a backup device – consider using write-once, recordable DVDs, CDs, or BDs (Blu-ray Discs). Optical discs are inexpensive, after all. They’re also impervious to strong magnetic fields, which can corrupt the data on a portable hard drive. Likewise, they don’t break when you drop them-another hard drive vulnerability. It’s possible to scratch a CD/DVD/BD, of course, but if you’re careful to handle them by the edges, store them in cases or sleeves, and refrain from setting them down bare on anything but a drive tray, you shouldn’t have many problems. Before we talk about the basics of writing data to disc, let’s do a quick brush-up on CDs, DVDs, and BDs in general. Optical media can be confusing, so let’s lay out each topic one by one.

Optical Discs Exposed

A CD/DVD/BD-writing drive uses a laser to burn pits, or dark spots, in a disc’s recording dye layer. That’s why people refer to writing data on an optical disc as “burning.” Later, optical drives can use lasers on lower power settings to read the pitted and unpitted areas (lands) of the dye layer as the 1s and 0s of binary data storage. There’s a reflective layer above the dye layer. Usually made of aluminum, the reflective layer bounces the laser back to the drive’s read head when there’s no pit in the way. This is why the data side of an optical disc looks kind of like a mirror. CDs, DVDs, and BDs are all the same physical size, which makes manufacturing easier. In order to store more data than CDs, DVDs and BDs use lasers of different colors (wavelengths), which can create finer pits. CDs store 650MB or 700MB; DVDs can hold 4.7GB or 8.5GB (DL [dual-layer] discs with two recording dye layers); and BDs have capacities of 25GB or 50GB (DL). Mini versions of each have less storage space. Note that you can’t modify the data on a store-bought movie DVD/BD, audio CD/DVD, or software CD/DVDROM (read-only memory), as these types of discs don’t contain recording dye. Instead, their reflective aluminum layer is stamped with an indelible pattern of pits and lands.

What R, RW & RE Mean

Optical discs are considered either recordable or rewriteable. You can only write data once to the dye in a recordable disc. Mind you, you can record multiple data sessions to a particular disc if you didn’t completely fill it the first time. Recordable discs have ‘R’ suffixes, as in CD-R and BD-R. There are actually two standards for recordable DVD: DVD+R and DVDR. The only practical difference between the two is that certain playback devices (and a few ancient DVD burners) prefer one or the other. With a rewriteable disc, you can erase data and overwrite it with new information. The secret is a recording dye that can be changed to two unique states (amorphous or crystalline, to be technical) when the drive’s laser operates at different power levels. Thus, the dye can be “burned” to act as a pit or returned to its original state as a land. Types of rewriteable media include CD-RW, DVD-RW and DVD+RW (plus their forerunner DVD-RAM), and BD-RE. While rewriteable media sounds like a great way to go, its mutable nature doesn’t quite jibe with record retention regulations that mandate permanent records of business data, such as on recordable media of the WORM (write-once, read many) kind. Also, rewriteable media has a history of compatibility issues among drives and devices.

  • Drives

Optical drives that can only read discs have ‘ROM’ suffixes, as in BD-ROM. Note that with few exceptions, drives are backward compatible with earlier disc formats; therefore, a BD-ROM drive should also read DVDs and CDs with no problem. Predictably, the drives that can write data, in addition to reading it, are called burners. They may be marketed with rewriteable format suffixes, as in a BD-RE drive or a DVD±RW (a burner that can write both DVD+RW and DVD-RW). All burners can read the formats they write, and they’re backward-compatible. or example, a BD-RE can both read and write DVDs and CDs. There’s a third type of drive called a combo. Historically, this is a burner that can also read one format newer than it can write. For instance, a BDROM/ DVD±RW combo is a DVD burner that can also read BDs, while a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo is a CD burner that can play DVDs. Internal optical drives use a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) or IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) interface. External drives typically come with a USB cable and an AC power adapter.

  • Speeds

Blank discs and drives are both rated by their maximum data transfer speeds, such as 22X DVD writing and 48X CD reading. An ‘X’ varies by the type of media: 1X CD is 150KBps, 1X DVD equals 1.35MBps, and 1X BD is 4.5MBps. As an example, 4X BD equals 18MBps. Note that optical drives only hit max speeds when reading or writing the last files on a full disc. Data recovery Las Vegas done right!

Burning The Data

Once you’ve decided to copy some files to CD/DVD/ BD, the trick is to do so in a way that will make the discs accessible in any other computer later on. In all of the following instructions, we’ll assume you’ve placed an appropriate, blank disc in your burner. First, we’ll show you how to burn data via Windows 7’s built-in utility and then we’ll show you how to do the same with a popular burning program, Nero Multimedia Suite 10.

  •  Win7

To write files to disc in Win7, drag and drop them on your burner’s icon. Alternatively, right-click them, click Send To, and select your CD/ DVD/BD writer. And if an AutoPlay window pops up when you put a blank disc in your drive, you can click Burn Files To Disc. By default, Windows burns some discs with its Live File System, known generically as Mt. Rainier recording. It’s meant to make optical discs as convenient to use as USB flash drives or hard drives. However, discs formatted with Live File System may not be readable in all computers. Opt for the With A CD/ DVD player setting to make a Mastered (traditional) disc, and then click Next. Windows will copy your files to a new folder, but it won’t write them to disc just yet. If you change your mind about a file, delete it from the list. (Don’t worry: As long as you’re deleting a file with a down arrow icon, it’s a copy, not the original.) Finally, click Burn To Disc and Next.

  • ISO Disc Image Files

Some software comes as an ISO file. An ISO is a type of disc image file that contains all the files necessary to make a CD, DVD, or BD, such as a bootable utility disc for OS installation, virus removal, or hard drive partitioning. You can think of it as an archive file like a ZIP, only without file compression. The trouble with ISOs is that in order to extract their files properly to a blank optical disc, you need to specify a setting or two before you burn it. If you simply burn an ISO to disc the same way you would any other type of file, you’ll merely end up with a CD/DVD/BD with the ISO file on it. Windows 7. Fortunately, Windows 7 has built-in support for burning ISOs to disc. Right-click an ISO file and select Burn Disc Image. (If Burn Disc Image isn’t an option, click OpenWith and Windows Disc Image Burner.) Click Verify Disc After Burning and then click Burn. To do this in Nero 10, launch StartSmart. Click Data and then select Burn And Copy Data – Advanced. Click Cancel to close the New Compilation window and then click Recorder and Burn Image. ind the ISO file and click Open. Next, click Verify Written Data. Finally, click Burn.


Smart Computing | August 2011 p.25


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