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Top CD / DVD Burning Tips and Tricks to Avoid Coasters

by Shivaranjan on July 8, 2008

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cd1 Today CD / DVD burners are a standard component in every computer be it a Desktop or a Laptop. The CD / DVD media is the most affordable and most easily available backup options that we have today. But many times we end up creating discs that are either not readable, fail to read after a period of time and ofcourse the dreaded coaster. Well now you would be wondering what this term coaster is that I keep referring. ;)

What is a CD / DVD Coaster?

Well coaster can be defined as a unreadable disc, a badly burnt disc or a disc with lot of errors.

CD / DVD Burning Tips and Tricks to Avoid Coasters:

1. Check if your CD /DVD writer has the latest firmware: Always make sure that your CD/ DVD burner has got the latest firmware. The latest firmware offered by manufacturer of your drive would have support for latest blank CD / DVD medias and bug fixes if they were present in the earlier version of firmware.

2. Always use good quality media: Those nameless flashy cheap CD / DVD are no good. The quality of these cheap media is very poor so if you use those then you are risking your backup data. It is recommended that you buy branded media that can offer good results.

3. Take care of your Media: Buying good quality media alone is not sufficient, you must also take precautions that these media don’t get damaged. Keep the blank CD / DVD media away from sunlight and dust. Before you put the blank CD / DVD media into your burner make sure that they are clean.

4. Burn at lower speed: Burn at lower speed to get the best quality burning rather than burning at max speed or using overspeeding than the rated speed. I have noticed that the slower I burn the better quality of burns I get when compared to the max rates speed. I don’t mean that you have to burn you media at 1x speed, if you have 16x rated media try to burn at 12x which is quite optimal and you also don’t loose lot of precious time.

5. Defragment your hard drive: To get the best quality burns your CD / DVD writer needs to get data at the desired speed at required rate. To achieve this the hard disk drive would need to transfer the data at that rate hence it is advisable to have your data defragmented so that hard disk drive can transfer the data without any hiccups. Even if you set the max burning speed the burn rate will slower if the data is highly fragmented.

6. Close the programs that you do not use: The CD / DVD burning is more of hard drive taxing job rather than the CPU, close all those hard disk hogging programs that you don’t intend to use. To make the burning smoother the CD / DVD burning program uses quite some RAM if you are running low on RAM close all the unwanted programs that would free up more memory to the burning application.

7. Enable DMA for CD / DVD drives: The DMA mode allows the CPU to transfer huge chunks of data to the drive thereby reducing the CPU utilization. If this mode is enabled then high speed and high quality burning can be performed. You can read here further on how to enable DMA in Windows XP.

8. Make your CD /DVD drive as Master: If you are using IDE or PATA based CD / DVD burner then it is a wise decision to make that drive as master drive to get better performance.

9. Opt for SATA based DVD drive: Planning to buy a new drive? If yes then it is better that you a SATA interface based drives as it offers better performance over its PATA counter part.

8. Enable buffer under-run protection: Enable the buffer under-run-protection in your burning application before you burn your data.

What is buffer underrun?

A buffer underrun occurs during recording if the recorder runs out of data in the recording buffer. Once the laser is on, it cannot stop and resume flawlessly; thus the pause necessitated by the underrun can cause the data on the disc to become invalid. Since the buffer is generally being filled from a relatively slow source, such as a hard disk or another CD/DVD, a heavy CPU or memory load from other concurrent tasks can easily exhaust the capacity of a small buffer. Therefore, buffer underrun protection was implemented by various individual CD/DVD writer vendors. With this technique, the laser is indeed able to stop writing for any amount of time and resume when the buffer is full again. The gap between successive writes is extremely small.

Modern burners and burning applications by default enable the buffer underrun protection but it is always better to double check it before you start your backup or burning project.

9. Use Ultra DMA (80-Conductor) IDE/ATA Cables: If you are using a PATA or IDE CD / DVD drive use the 80 pin ultra DMA IDE/ATA cable over the 40 pin cable as it offers better performance.

80_40

Image courtesy: Seagate

If you got any more tips then do let us know we will update those here.

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