Burning Compact Discs

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How to tune your PC to efficiently burn CD's.

With the dropping prices of CD burners as of late, it is relatively easy and cheap to get into burning your own demo CD's. Since printers for CD's are still quite expensive, it will be a while before the average PC owner can make their own publicly releasable CD's.

Burning a CD is more than just throwing in burner in your PC and pressing "record". You must make sure your PC is set up for optimum efficiency and has enough power to burn. Having reliable burning capability does require an above-average PC, and some common sense. If you are using an IDE burner, make sure it is set as the "master" on the secondary IDE bus (Assuming the Primary bus master is your hard drive, if not put it there). If using a SCSI burner, make it the lowest available SCSI ID, it should be ID 0 unless you use SCSI hard drvies, if so, make it the lowest ID after the hard drive array.

Common sense seems to be the area that many people fall short. When I was working as a PC technician I had many people coming in the store and complaining because their CD burner didn't work. They said they were always getting "buffer under-run" errors. This type of error message is commonly given when the burner is recording the data faster than the system is feeding data to the burner.

Before getting into the cause of this problem, let me explain a little about burning technology. A device like this records it's data with a laser that "burns" the data onto the writable surface of a blank CD. If this laser is stopped for any reason, or for any amount of time, no matter how short, the CD is junked. You now have a coaster for your drink. For this reason the most critical aspect of burning is making sure nothing is taking away from the PC's ability to get the data to the burner.

Now, back to the story...these customers at my store would later then tell me that they were mad because they started a burn, and then with the CD being written in the background, they decided to start playing Quake or Half-Life to kill time until it was done! Needless to say, the reason their burns kept failing was their own lack of common sense.

The moral of the story is this...the only real trick to a successful burn is starting the burn and then leaving your PC alone while it is working. Turn off all your system utilities, anti-virus scanners, and anything else you have running on your system. In doing that your system will be free and efficient enough to make your many recordings of your music for years to come.

There are many fine burners available for your PC, and some great stand-alone units as well. I personally recommend Yamaha burners. They are the ones I use, and they have proven to be very reliable and easy to use. Smart and Friendly have also consistently been rated as some of the best burners on the market by many critics.

Most CD-R's available today are also CD-RW's which mean they also re-write. Re-writable CD's are usually only readable by the burner that wrote them, so they aren't much use for music to listen to in your home stereo, but it does make them very useful in keeping a current backup of your PC.

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