Community College of Rhode Island

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Copying files to a CD-R or CD-RW

CD-Rs (Compact Disc Recordable) are inexpensive CDs that only allow you to do a one-time copy (or "write") of your files. It is a permanent recording of the files copied, with no ability to change what you stored on the CD. CD-Rs are best used for permanent data storage such as backing up your hard drive, sharing non-editable information, and saving large presentations. Files from the disc can be copied back to any hard drive.

CD-RWs (Compact Disc Re-Writable) allow you to erase and write over existing files once files/folders have been copied to a CD-RW. These discs are best used for transporting large files between computers, archiving data, storing large data files while you work on them, updating important files each week, and backing up files from your hard drive. They act just like a zip or floppy disc but hold much more information. They can typically be reused at least 40 times.

Steps for copying files to a CD-R or CD-RW
Instructions and Screenshots
Step 1

Insert a blank, writable CD into the CD drive. Use one of the following:

Recordable compact disc (CD-R) or Rewritable compact disc (CD-RW)

image of a cd
Step 2

Click Start in the lower left-hand corner, and then click My Computer.

image of the My Computer icon
Step 3

Select the files or folders that you want to copy to the CD.

To select more than one file, hold down the CTRL key while you click the files you want. Then, under File and Folder Tasks (located in the task pane on the left), click Copy this file, Copy this folder, or Copy the selected items.

image of selecting the file to be copied
Step 4
The Copy Items dialog box will open. Select the CD drive, as the location to copy the files to. Click Copy

image of selecting the CD drive

Step 5

In the lower left hand corner a balloon will appear indicating that "you have files waiting to be written to CD." To see the files now, click this balloon.

image of balloon indicating there are files to be written
Step 6

Windows displays a temporary area where the files are located before they are written to the CD. Verify that the files and folders that you intend to copy to the CD appear under Files Ready to be Written to the CD. Under CD Writing Tasks, click Write these files to CD.

image of selecting "Write these files to CD"
Step 7

The CD Writing Wizard will appear. Here you will have the opportunity to enter a name for the CD or click Next to accept the default.

image of the CD writing wizard
Step 8

Follow the wizard instructions to write the files to CD. When done click Finish.

image of completing the CD writing wizard

Note: Do not try to copy more files to the CD than it will hold. Standard CDs hold up to 650 mb. High capacity CDs hold 700 mb. If you do accidentally go over the CD's limit, an error message box will appear directing you to reduce the size of your files.

Care of CDS

Try to handle a CD as little as possible to avoid scratching the surface, and keep it away from heat and direct sunlight.

If possible, use labels designed for CDs to identify your media. Alternatively, you can write on the upper surface of the CD, but you must use a soft felt tip pen, such as a Sharpie, to do this.

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Last Updated: 3/20/13