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Using CD-RW's successfully, suggestions please

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WOW - Been awhile since I checked in here - Really like the new look folks!

I am setting up my pc from a recent demise [Sucked the life out of my teeny power supply and lost everything on my hdd] So of course the terms 'back up and restore' have a whole new sentimentality to me now. I am looking for suggestions on preferred software to use, sites to check out for knowledgeable unbiased information, how to's etc. regarding CD-R and RW and DVD, recording, both for video and their use for data recording as well. Far too many diff types of DVD's [-R,+R -/+R and what the heck is a DVD-RAM dble sided disc ?]
Other than my WinMedia player[v9] and the Office 2003 Pro[SP2] I haven't started to re install my lost applications as of yet. Still fine tuning my security/antivirus/antispyware O/S updates fixes etc. Thought I would try some thoughtful dilligence this time. Always meant to before but you know how it can go, but I don't want to find myself doing this again in the near future unless it is because I find myself with some new seriously upgraded hardware. [Santa? r u listening?]

I have used and have available to me -
IOMEGA Hot Burn Pro,
HP CD-Writer Plus [came with the burner],
Nero [Express and Burning Rom several versions ranging from 5.5 thru 6.?? I'll get back with the specific version numbers when I next return]
WMPlayer v 10.5, and of course the XPburn to cd. also have some past exposure / experience with the Roxio and Adaptec software , IN-CD . Easy-CD, and Have, but have not used, as I don't have a DVD burner as of yet -
DVD X-Copy Xpress v2.5.5.
Even tho I can't burn DVD's at this time, my sister can and does with regularity and calls upon me for directional guidance. [scarry as that sounds to me] She has been surprisingly successful with the help of her son, but he has a life now [18yrs] and time is not always there for them to sit down and continue the tutorials so she calls on me, and I am flying blind beyond the common sense stuff in this area and we are long distance on the phone so I need to find some place to read more...etc] but that will follow later. She does copy DVD movies and purchased Audio CDs for archives, of course.

So what I am looking for is suggestions from the GTG guys and anyone interested in sharing, re burning software, what is your favorite or least favorite, etc.
I use my burner alot, in the past for data storage - sharing, music, photos, etc. I now want to learn about using the CD-RWs succesfully for the data and photo stuff because I am getting far too many little cds of duplicate stuff. and am tired of never being sure if I can throw that cd away or not, All part of trying to be more organized etc.
Also want to learn about the use of the DVD for the same purpose -

My sister does alot with photo media, has a toshiba satallite laptop w a 60G hdd running XPMedia Center. I looked thru it over the Thanksgiving weekend get together and read about data storage/backup specific to the needs of persons with a lot of photos and video data.
It referred to using something I had never heard of and they were very specific,

it said " using a DVD-RAM double sided disc" huh? suggested getting the 5.? gig size for storage neeeds.

Never even heard of this one, and I looked at a few places the other day and couldn't find anything like it in the stores but I hadn't gone to anything other than places that sold the usual types of discs and equipment.

I will be starting to re install the other apps I want back on my system in a few days - just in case it matters I have alot of the Adobe Products- Photoshop, Elements, Illustrator, Image and other web dev tools. macromedia mx, dreamweaver mx fireworks flash freehand etc - Primarily working with the photoshop stuff but wanting to branch out if I ever get the time. Here are the specs on what I am working with incase anyone needed to know.
Thanks in advance for anyone wanting to share their ideas and opinions - ynape

Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 (build 2600) Gateway 4000678
933 megahertz Intel Pentium III
32 kilobyte primary memory cache
256 kilobyte secondary memory cache Board: Intel Corporation WL810E AAA27218-206
Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
BIOS: Intel Corp. WL81020A.15A.0007.P06.0010031249 10/03/2000
Drives Memory Modules c,d
81.95 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
76.05 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

HP CD-Writer+ 9100 [CD-ROM drive]
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Neil Jones

Neil Jones

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http://www.cdrfaq.org/ - more stuff about CDs and writing than you can shake a stick at.

As for everything else:

Different CD units just tend to get on better with certain brands.

CD Rewritables (CD-RWs) can be very flakey and very unreliable. While they do offer advantages in certain areas (such as being able to do what's known as packet writing which is basically treating the CD as a huge floppy disk), they have disadvantages as well.

Packet Writing, a good idea in principle, is let down by the fact that there are copious filesystems available, none of them work in conjunction with each other and if, for example, you do all your packet writing with InCD v3 and then switch to InCD v4, it won't read the v3 disks. An average CD-RW lasts about 1000 writes.

Their upside is that they are good for dummy runs of burns. If you make bootable CDs, the only way to test them is to burn them and boot off them. They're also slightly cheaper but considered an inferiour medium and definitely not recommened for long term storage. They are ideal for short temporary holdings of stuff though.

DVD-RWs are from the same kettle of fish, and because they hold 8 times more than a standard CD, means you can potentially lose 8x more data.

Having said all this, a CD/DVD will last far longer if its treated with care and respect - ie keeping it in its jewel box when not in use and out of direct sunlight as opposed to leaving it on a desk to get scratched. But no media is totally 100% reliable - floppies wear out, CDs wear out and hard drives fail.

XP has its own built-in writing software which is strictly one-way - you can send stuff to the disc and iit'll burn it on there. It works like the packet writing technique above and comes in useful if you don't like CD-RWs (or your drive(s) don't like them) because XP will fill the disk to capacity before insisting on another one.

Edited by Neil Jones, 28 November 2005 - 04:55 PM.

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Thanks for the site suggestion - Guess I will be doing a lot of reading for a while and I will get back to you with any more questions I am sure to have.
Thanks also for the ugly truth about the rewriteable situation. I feared it all sounded too good to be really true. But I liked the boot disk 'test burn' idea -
Any other ideas and suggestions are still welcome - thanks
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