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CD-RW Drive Overview

A CD-RW drive is a device that reads information or music off of a compact disk (CD) and can also write information to a CD. CD-RW stands for Compact Disc Read Write.

A CD-RW can write only to disks that are designated for writing; either CD-R or CD-RW. Disks that are already recorded upon, such as music CDs and commercial software, cannot be accidentally recorded over. A CD-R can be recorded upon once and read forever. CD-RW can be recorded upon numerous times and read forever.

The CD is spun at high speed inside the drive while a laser is directed at the surface to read the data or music. The CD-ROM is referenced as a 12X or 12 speed (or any other number). This simply means that it spins the CD that many times faster than the original industry specification. So, a 48X CD-ROM spins the CD up to 48 times faster than the original specification. Faster is better.

A CD-RW's speed is referenced as 4X 2X 20X. The first number is the top speed for writing a CD. The second number is the top speed for rewriting a CD and the last number is the top speed for reading a CD.

Some older CD-ROMs and music CD players cannot read CD-Rs. However, most equipment manufactured since 1999 can read disks created on a PC.

For greatest operating efficiency, the CD-RW drive should be connected to the IDE controller that is not controlling the hard disk from which writing will usually be done. Although it can be connected to the IDE controller with the hard disk, only one device can communicate with the controller at a time thus causes a bottleneck. If you will be copying files from a hard disk that is on controller one, then put the CD-RW on controller two or vice versa.

Mini CD's and business card CD's are not recommended for use in a CD-ROM or CD-RW because of the risk of damage. Although mini CD's are convenient, they tend to become unstable and damage the drive.

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