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Using CD-R & CD-RW Discs
When you put the CD-RW in the drive and open the drive, a menu on the left appears headed "CD Writing Tasks". It gives you an option to "erase this CD-RW". That's how I erase my CD-RWs.
If not check you CD writing program, Nero has an option to erase a CD-RW, I assume other writers have something similar.
If you want to permanently save data to a disc, use a CD-R (compact disc, recordable). The key word here is "permanently". If you record one-half of the CD-R, you can no longer use that half for future recording. As long as the disc is properly cared for, the data is safe.
"But what about the unrecorded half of the CD-R? Can it be used?" Whether you can record using the remaining free space depends on how you ended the last recording session. If the CD remains "open" after the recording session, the free space is available for recording. If the CD was "closed," no additional data can be recorded. And, unlike the "Closed" sign on the door of your favorite pizza place, a closed CD-R doesn't mean it will open tomorrow or the next day. A closed CD-R is a "Closed and Out-of-the-Recording-Business" CD-R.
If you want the ability to record and rewrite, then choose a CD-RW (compact disc, rewriteable). A CD-RW can be recorded, erased and rewritten hundreds of times. CD-RW's are more expensive than CD-R's and will not play on non-multisession CD drives, CD audio players, and some CD-R drives.
You can use a CD-R drive or a CD-RW drive to record CD-RW's; however, you need a CD-RW drive to rewrite a CD-RW. (To prevent embarrassing calls to your favorite technical support department, please reread the previous sentence before attempting to erase and rewrite a CD-RW using a CD-R drive.)
It's All in the Definition
Now that you know the difference between a CD-R and CD-RW and that a CD-RW drive is needed to rewrite a CD-RW, choosing how you end the recording session is the next step. The following terms are common to many CD-burning programs. Understanding each term will help you burn (or record) your first CD.
Session: Think of this as a single data-recording event during which songs, photos, video and files are recorded to a CD-R or CD-RW.
Open Session: Choosing to leave the session open will allow additional recording to that session later. Leaving the session open is typically used for recording audio. CD drives and audio players will be unable to read the session until the session is closed.
Closed Session: No additional data can be written to that session. However, the remaining free space on the CD-R or CD-RW is open for recording, providing you haven't closed the CD.
Closed CD: No additional data can be recorded regardless of the remaining free space. For example, if you close a CD-R or CD-RW after recording a single song, you'll have a CD with one song on it. If you close a CD-R, no additional recording can occur. If you close a CD-RW, however, the disc can be erased and rewritten using a CD-RW drive.
Open CD: An open CD will allow for further recording, providing that free space is available on the disc.
Track: A track is defined as a single collection of information such as a song or a picture.
Open or Close ?
Most CD-burning programs offer choices similar to those shown below before record begins. Some choices are only available when creating specific types of CD's (e.g., Audio, Mixed Mode, etc.).
Open Session and Open CD: This option is typically used when recording audio CD's. If you want to record a single CD without any interruptions and you know that days, if not months, will pass before you get to record again, leave the session and CD open. When all of the data or songs have been added and you want to view or play the CD, close the session. (If you close the CD—see definition above—no additional recording can take place.) Remember: A session can't be read until it is closed.
Closed Session and Open CD: Let's say you want to record five songs today on the CD. Next week, you want to add to the same CD the family photos that you will take over the upcoming weekend. Keeping the CD open after closing the recording session will allow you to record the family photos (and other data) later. Multiple sessions can be recorded as space allows or until the CD is closed.
Closed CD: If you are absolutely-positively-without-a-doubt certain that you want the last recording session to be the last recording session, choose "Close the CD." After a CD is closed, no additional recording can occur. (Remember: This only applies to the CD-R. If you record using a CD-RW and a CD-RW drive is available, it doesn't matter that you closed the session or closed the CD or closed the kitchen window, the disc can be erased and rewritten.)
Additional Options Explained
The following choices are also common to many CD-burning programs. Understanding what they offer will help you record your first CD.
Track-At-Once Option: The Track-At-Once selection typically includes the following sub-choices as defined above: Leave Session Open, Close Session and Leave CD Open, and Close CD. Choosing the Track-At-Once option allows you the flexibility to choose how you want to end the recording session (e.g., Close the Session and Leave the CD Open). The Track-At-Once option records one track at a time. When this option is selected, a gap separates each track. The gap between audio tracks is approximately two seconds. The gap between an audio and data track is approximately two or three seconds.
Session-At-Once Option: The Session-At-Once option allows you to record a single session and leave the CD open. You can then record subsequent sessions and close the CD when finished.
Disc-At-Once: This option creates and closes a disc in one step. Choosing the Disc-At-Once option eliminates gaps between tracks and closes the CD. This is a good selection to make if you are recording WAV, MP3 or other music files. The main thing to remember when using this option is that you can't add any more data to the disc because the disc is closed when the recording is complete.
The Create Options
Most CD-burning software programs offer three choices when it's time to create the CD.
Test Only: Selecting this option will simulate recording to the CD. The Test Only option verifies that the CD is recordable and that all recording devices are working. The main purpose of a test mode is to check for buffer overruns, which can occur when the processor is too slow or the hard drive is unable to keep up to the recording drive's demand for data. No actual recording takes place during testing.
Test and Create CD: Selecting this option will first test (described above) and then record to the CD, providing the test was successful.
Create CD: Typically, this is the default option. This selection is for the risk-taking free spirits who live on the edge. No testing occurs before recording begins.
That's it! It's time to purchase a few inexpensive recordable CD's and put your new knowledge to the test. With a little practice, you'll achieve total CD-recording freedom in no time.