CD question. cd-rw and dvd-rw vs. cd-r and dvd-r for backing up data?

i decided to use disks to back up my old laptop, as its hard drive is starting to give signs of failure. the reason im using disks is that i dont have enough money for a external hard drive. however im getting a headache from trying to understand the difference between a cd-r and a cd-rw. everyone says that cd-r is write only. first of all what does that mean? is it write only for data, burning media, or both? does it mean you can write onle one file in the CD afterwhich it stays there forever and you cant delete it? cuz guess what, i was backing up some pictures to a dvd-r without a complex software like nero (just windows wxplorer, as if it was a flash drive) and i accidentally put something on there i didnt want, and i pressed the delete button, and I ACTUALLY DELETED IT .. and then i added other pictures.. wow right?! i thought it was only "write once only" like everyone working in best buy told me as if they were trained monkeys.. so whats the deal here, was what happened today a miracle in the world of technology? should i call mythbusters? whats the real difference between the "r" and the "rw" format? cuz today i was using a dvd-R (THATS RIGHT NOT RW) and it was working exactly like a flash drive. i went on windows explorer, added files i wanted to add, deleted some files, and added more files. am i immune to this "WRITE ONLY ONCE" rule?? looking back i would have saved up for an external HDD to back up my laptop instead of confusing myself with this outdated technology...

i would be real happy if someone could explain in some detail, the difference between cd-r or dvd-r VERSUS the RW disks.

thank you guys, and please, please dont explain it like those imbeciles at best buy did


I thought the same thing but after i added the files to the cd as if it was a flash drive, i took the cd to another computer and they opened...

1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Burning a CD-R is not the same as moving a file to a flash drive. The file is not burned immediately, which is why you were able to delete the file. It wasn't actually burned to the disk yet so you could still make changes.

    Now there is a CD you can burn that makes the CD seem to work like a flash drive. If the CD uses the Live File System then it appears that you can delete and update files.

    As before, once you burn a CD-R the files cannot be changed. If you use the Live File System then Windows can make it LOOK like you can change and delete files. What's actually happening is that the old files are made invisible to you. They still exist on the CD-R and take up space but you can't see them so it appears that they've been deleted or changed. All that's happened is that a new file was burned to your CD and the old one made invisible.

    With a CD-RW or a DVD-RW the files can actually be deleted. The difference between these and a flash drive is that you can't delete individual files. You have to erase the whole disk at once to delete everything and star over again.

    You can combine the two technologies together. You can burn using the Live File System to a CD-RW or DVD-RW. When the disk is full, you can then erase the whole thing and start over again. It takes a while to erase a disk. This is why potable hard drive are more popular. They hold more than a DVD or CD and write and erase files quickly.

    Edit: That's because you created a Live File System disk. It'll appear to work like a flash drive in any Windows XP or greater computer.

    Edit: I see, it looks like I'm mistaken. I don't use Windows to burn things because I could never get it to work the way I wanted. After a quick test I see how things work now.

    So when you move a file to your disk it starts the burning processes. If you selected Live File System (use like a flash drive) then you can appear to delete a file. Thing is, the file is still there, it's just now invisible so if you use a regular CD-R, then the space the file you accidentally added is now wasted. Deleting it will only make it invisible to you, but it's still there on the CD since moving it burns it to the disk immediately.

    I thought you had to manually select burn to disk or that the CD was burned when you hit the eject button. I changed my mind when I watched Microsoft's tutorial on how to burn a CD in Windows 7.

    - Dominic

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