by May 11, 2002 0 comments



Like everything else related to computing, the speed at which CDs are burnt has also gone up tremendously. A session that would have taken half an hour of your time earlier can now be completed in less than 5 min. However, faster speeds also make CD-writers more data hungry, which means that they need a fast and uninterrupted supply of data. And any irregularity or interference in the burning process can mean the end of the road for your CD-R. So, let’s see how to burn right. 

Enable DMA
Enabling DMA for your hard drive, CD-drive and CD-Writer can dramatically improve your CD-Writer’s performance. Not only does this increase the data transfer rate of your drives, but also decreases processor utilization. This is also one of the prime reasons why you can’t burn at the writer’s full potential. The way to enable DMA differs for different OSs. (On how to enable DMA, see Free up your CPU, page 39, PCQuest, February 2002.)

If you have an older motherboard you might need to buy a separate PCI based USB 2.0 card USB 2.0 

Most USB CD writers today are USB 2.0 compatible. The new version of USB enables much faster data throughputs. However, to be able to use USB 2.0, your motherboard must also support it. If your motherboard make is older than April 2000, then it won’t support USB 2.0. In such a case, you’ll need to buy a separate PCI based USB 2.0 card. If you try to use your USB 2.0 writer on a USB 1.1 port,
then performance will be severely crippled. For example, an Iomega 24x CD-Writer will burn CDs only at 6x if used on an older USB 1.1 port.

Check your IDE cables
Most hard drives today support the ATA/66 and the ATA/100 standard. However a thing you need to remember is that to take advantage of the speed benefits of these standards you will need to use an ATA/66 or ATA/00 compatible IDE cable, which have 80 wires instead of 40, found in older cables. 

Disable background programs
Before you start burning make sure background tasks like anti-viruses and screen savers have been disabled. Also while the CD is being burnt it is advisable not to run any other applications, especially those that require large amounts of data from the hard disk, or are processor intensive like transferring large files or watching DivX movies. 

Copy files locally
The files and folders you want to burn should ideally be copied to your local hard drive before you burn them. It is never a good idea to burn files directly over the network, as you have no control over network traffic, and any undue interference could ruin the burn process. Also, if your source CD has scratches on it, then you should first copy the files to your hard drive before burning. In case of an audio CD, you can first create an image of the same on your hard drive, and then burn it on to a CD-R. 

Disable all shares
If your machine is on a network, then you should disable all external access to your machine like folder shares before you start burning. 

Defrag
Before you burn, it’s a good idea to check how fragmented the data on your hard drive is, and defrag it if necessary. This is especially necessary if your drive is divided into large partitions. 

Media care 
Most CD writers come with a single CD-R media only. So you’ll have to buy more on your own. But, before you buy media, make sure it supports your drive’s maximum speed. For example if your drive can burn at 24x, then a 16x media won’t do. The same is true for CD-RW media. If you are constantly facing problems with a particular brand of media, then check the list of recommended media in your writer’s manual. 

Always keep your media away from sunlight, heat and dust. And if you do need to clean its surface use a soft dry cloth, and clean from the inside to the outside and not in circles. 

Sachin Makhija

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