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Monday, April 23, 2001
On Hardware

Write and delete data with CD-RW
By Naveen S. Garewal

STORING data in a safe and secure manner has perhaps always been the most critical part of computing. The adage "its better safe than sorry" cannot hold more true than in the case of storing your data. Gone are the days when data used to be backed up on several floppy disks that invariably give data error while reading during a back-up recovery process. From floppy disks to tape drives, data storage has come a long way. Today compact disks (CDs) are accepted as a reliable and portable way of data storage.

In recent times, the prices of CD-writers (CD-R) and CD re-writers (CD-RW) have seen a sharp dip, making it possible for everyone to fulfil their dream of adding a CD-writer to their desktop computers. What is more important is that from a cumbersome task of burning a CD, writing data on a CD has become a simple task due to the introduction of the burn proof technology in CD writing. CD-writers in the market today are not only intelligent in determining the type of media but they also provide ease of use that has made the art of CD burning a child’s play. CD-Rs have become strong contender to more conventional data storage alternatives such as Zip and Syquest drives.


With the introduction of multimedia some years ago, CD drives became an integral part of all computers. With the ever-growing threat from the ever-increasing number of viruses that have the potential to invade data on a computer, it is not before long that CD-writers, which are a reliable method of data storage, would become a mandatory peripheral. With a CD-writer on the desktop, all data on the computer can be backed up from time to time and avoid losing months of precious work during a virus attack that enters the computer attached to an e-mail while browsing the Internet.

A simple yet important fact that is unknown to most is that a CD can be burnt in multi-session. This means that all data (about 650 MB) to be written on the CD does not have to be written in one go, the CD-writer can add data to the CD as and when it is available. The process is similar to writing data on a floppy or even the hard disk. With CD media available for as little as Rs 15, it makes perfect sense to store data like MP3 songs, movie clips, installable software, large backups, etc on a CD rather than cluttering the hard disk. Unlike on a floppy disk, where data can be written and deleted at will, space on a CD used to write data once is consumed permanently. However, a re-writable CD media can be used about 2000 times to write and delete data.

The CD-Rs can be put to several applications — the ability to create custom audio CDs on a CD-R has perhaps so far been the most commonly used application. But that is not all, write-once capability of CD-R media is well suited for archival applications where inability to erase data is a desirable feature.

Earlier, CD-Rs allowed a single-session recording, forcing the user to complete the CD burning at one go without interruptions. This often led to problems like buffer under runs, caused by limited buffer memory, which terminated a recording session abruptly, leaving the CD-R disk unusable for future recording sessions. Packet writing, a feature supported by most good CD-R drives today, eliminates this hurdle by allowing smaller chunks of data to be written over multiple recording sessions. Another positive trend has been the growing support for the new standard file format (UDF version 1.5 or Universal Data Format). UDF packet writing software packages make a CD-R disk to appear as a drive letter or as an icon on the desktop for drag-n-drop capability. This makes a CD-R drive behave like any other attached drive.

From a mere 2X write some time ago, CD-Rs in the market today have a 16X capability. Yamaha’s CRW2100EZ for example offers 16X write, 10X rewrite and 40X read capabilities. CD-Rs like Plextor makes use of Sanyo’s Burn Proof Technology, while Yamaha uses its own "Waste-Proof Write Strategy". This exclusive write strategy maximises stability of the recording environment by combining a large buffer memory. Yamaha drive has an 8 MB buffer. Some CD-R drives also have DVD capabilities built-in like the Samsung’s Combo drive. The modern CD-R drives use the laser sensing technology that adjusts the laser beam on the writing media in a way that it ensures flawless CD writing.
Most CD-writers come with software required to create customised software and may even have kits for making the CD label. Some software that you can expect to be bundled with CD-writers are Adaptec Easy CD Creator, Adaptec Direct CD, Adaptec Toast for Mac users, Adobe PhotoDeluxe and Adobe ActiveShare. It seems like nearly every CD-writer comes with Easy CD Creator. While it’s a nice program, there are other more trouble-free and feature-laden application, like Nero 5 that can be downloaded from the Net.


· It supports 80 minutes CD-R's.

· Allows over-sizing and over-burning

· Re-writes at least at 4x speed or better.

· Is able to copy protected CD's.

· Supports TAO, DAO, multi-session and incremental packet writing.

· Allows RAW writing (used in CloneCD and BlindWrite).

· The CD-R Flashroom is upgradeable.

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