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CDs and DVDs offer a way to backup data from your computer. Older computers have the capacity to burn CDs, while most newer computers have the option of burning DVDs as well.
How can you tell whether your computer can burn DVDs? That depends on whether you have a Mac or a PC.
CD's and DVD's come in two types: R and RW. While you can use either type of CD or DVD for any backup, each type has special purposes for which it is designed. In simplest terms:
Most CD's have a 700MB capacity. To get an idea of how much data this will hold, a typical 5 page Word document is only about 60kb. At this size, you could store over 10,000 files on a CD. Uncompressed image files may average about 1MB each, so you could save about 700 pictures on one CD.
DVD's have a capacity of 4.7 GB, which is almost 7 times as much as a CD.
The line between R and RW discs becomes blurred because some CD/DVD burning software allows you to use each type more flexibly.
For example, if you use Roxio Easy CD Creator on a PC or Toast on a Mac, one option you will be given is to finalize a session on a CD-R, but not finalize the CD. This enables you to burn some files today, and return and burn more files on another date. In this way, a CD-R disc can perform similarly to a CD-RW. This is a helpful feature if you want to fill a CD. With a capacity of 700MB, if you burn a single file or folder, you may use only a tiny fraction of the available space. It is important to note though that the CD may not be compatible with other CD drives, so you will only be able to reliably read the files from your own computer.
By finalizing a CD-RW or DVD-RW disc, you can use it as an archive CD/DVD for backing up your data. If you do this, you will not be able to erase the disc and burn new files to it at a later time. You should also know that CD-RW's and DVD-RW's are less reliable for this purpose, and should not be used this way except when a backup must be made, and a CD-R or DVD-R disc is not available.
The step-by-step instructions provided below are the simplest method to burn files to a CD or DVD on either Macs or Windows PC's. Your own computer might also have other CD/DVD burning software installed on it, which will provide you with more options.
This process allows you to add more files to the same CD or DVD at a later time. Here are the steps: