Don't get burned – get the right CD burner
CD burners are a great way to keep track of files and photos, or create your own musical collections for that morning commute. Many computers come with a built-in CD burner, but if you are working on an older computer that still works fine, you may want to consider buying a CD burner. You can buy an internal CD burner and install it yourself, or look at external CD burners, which have dropped dramatically in price and are easy to install and use.
There are two types of CD burners you can buy – CD-R (or recordable) burners or CD-RW (rewriteable) burners. Recordable burners are great for those who only want to make their own CDs, while rewriteable burners are better suited to people who want to backup their data.
CD Burner Features
Whichever burner you buy, there are a few factors you should keep in mind:
- Speed. CD burners come in different speeds, and can take from a few minutes up to 15 or 20 to burn a CD. Generally, you'll pay more for faster CD burners, but the extra cost may be worthwhile if you're impatient.
- Compatibility. You'll need to make sure the CD burner you buy is compatible with your computer. Like other computer devices such as external hard drives or printers, different burners connect in different ways, including USB, SCSI and FireWire.
- Quality. External CD burners are particularly notorious for their range in quality. Do some research into a brand before you buy – chances are, your best bet will be to go with a trusted name.
One important note: If you plan to burn large amounts of data, you may be better off looking at DVD burners. DVDs have a much larger capacity than CDs.
Having the burner is only half the process – you still need blank CDs (either recordable or rewriteable CDs, depending on your device). Prices have come way down on these discs – usually $10 or less for a pack of 25 recordable discs, and slightly more for rewriteable discs.
Most CD burners come with software to install on your computer, which allows you to burn a CD. If it doesn't come with software, you can usually buy or download these programs separately. This software typically allows you to simply drag and drop your files, and then burn the disc with the click of a button.
One important thing to remember is that you should only use permanent marker to label a disc or, ideally, a special marker designed for writing on discs. Label the disc only after you burn it, not before, as some inks can cause damage to the burner's internal mechanisms.
CD and DVD Replication
Burning CDs one at a time on your computer is all well and good if you're simply backing up data or making a portable copy. If you need hundreds or thousands of copies (to sell or distribute) this would simply not be feasible.
CD replication services used high-end equipment to mass-produce discs quickly and accurately. These companies can also print custom artwork on the discs, produce packaging and ship either to you or direct to your customers.