So, You Only Get One Shot At Burning Songs Onto A CD-R: Who Knew?

Using the last blank disc in the house last night, I went to burn some songs onto a CD for my daughter.

My great idea: Let’s burn one and see how that goes. Great!

So, now let’s burn the rest.

“Insert blank disc in Drive “E” and click retry.”

What? There’s tons of room left on this DC?

“Insert blank disc in Drive “E” and click retry.”
“Insert blank disc in Drive “E” and click retry.”
“Insert blank disc in Drive “E” and click retry.”
“Insert blank disc in Drive “E” and click retry.”

So, it’s an all or nothing process I guess. At least using Windows Media Player. Is there anyway around this?

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a universal truth of CD-R. CD-RW, on the other hand…

Burning data to a CD-R includes a step called “finalizing” or “closing”, during which the disk is made complete by having its table of contents (and other stuff, I’m sure) written. I don’t burn disks in Media Player, so I don’t know if that can even be turned off there. Nero and other similar programs give you the option to turn that step off so you can incrementally add data to a disk. The drawback to that is, you can’t play an audio CD until it has been finalized.

As far as I’m aware, you get one burn per CD.

Unless you use CD-RWs, but all they allow you to do is erase the burn you did in order to do another burn. So you’re not adding to a previous burn.

Looks like you just made yourself a coaster! :slight_smile:

CDs support many different formats.
The most common format, for audio CDs, doesn’t support multiple sessions, or adding data after the table of contents has been closed.
Other formats support open TOCs or multiple sessions, so you can add data to an already-written CD-R, but these will not be compatible with an audio CD player.

When I burn a CD, does the Player “finalize” or “close” the disc?


It depends on what type of CD you choose to burn. The Player automatically finalizes or closes audio CDs, but does not finalize data CDs. To create a finalized data CD, you must use another provider’s burning or CD authoring program.


You can in some cases, burn a multi-session data disk, where a partial table of contents will be written each time. In my experience, this results in a few extra uses of a CD-R, but not a lot. I seem to recall running out of sessions on a disk after three or four burns, even though I was only burning < 10MB of data each time. I had figured I’d get around 50 uses. It’s possible that the multi-session format has improved since then, as I last tried this about 5 or 6 years ago.

Actually, I thought everyone knew! That’s why they sell CDs in big big spindles. Lots of room for goof-ups.

Yeah, otherwise they’d be called CD-R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R,Rs

This brings me back to 1998 when all my friends were discovering this one at a time and message boards were filled with OPs just like this one.

Thanks for your understanding and clarity. :rolleyes:

I don’t think you can burn a couple songs, pop the disc into a CD player, listen to it, then later add songs, listen to it on a CD player, etc.

I do think you can burn a couple songs, play the disc on your computer, later add songs, listen to it on your computer, etc.

Once a CD-R disc is finalized with audio files, that’s it. Data discs, as noted above, can be used like the old floppies—as far as being able to add. They aren’t magnetic, though, so you can’t overwrite.

Whatever. The question was asked an answered. I wasn’t trying to be rude - it honestly brought me back. It was probably Christmas 1998 when a flood of my on-and-offline friends were saying, DUDE, did you know that you only get one shot at burning a CD-R?!

The thing about CD burning is that it’s not like a floppy disc, where it’s magnetic media easily manipulable; It’s solid state, and the information is burned into the disc permanently.

CD-RWs are slightly different, they use a surface material, I think it’s a layer of plastic, that can be burned evenly across and “wiped,” but that’s also a finite option.

I think.

Sez Wikipedia:

While a prerecorded compact disc has its information permanently written onto its polycarbonate surface, a CD-RW disc contains a phase-change alloy recording layer composed of a phase change material, most often AgInSbTe, an alloy of silver, indium, antimony and tellurium[1]. An infra-red laser beam is used to selectively heat and melt, at 400 degrees (Celsius), the crystallized recording layer into an amorphous state or to anneal it at a lower temperature back to its crystalline state.

I’ve never used them.

Actually, I think you’ve all misunderstood the question. Or perhaps I have.

What YOU are hearing - he has some songs to burn to CD. He has made multiple tries to burn them to the same CD. He can’t.
What I am hearing - He has some songs to burn to CD. He wants to make multiple copies of these songs. He wrote to the first CD just fine. Then he tried writing the same songs to a second CD, third, fourth and so on. It wouldn’t let him.

I don’t know why he’s having this problem. But It’s easy to find free CD burning software that you can download, which will make the task easy for him.

With respect, that doesn’t sound like it. The OP had one disc left, tried burning one song to it, and was perplexed at not being able to add further songs into what ought to be the remaining empty space.

I believe there are ways to do that and create a CD that will play in many modern standalone audio CD players, but it’s not going to be the standard behaviour for the drag-drop CD writing wizard in Windows, or even the default option in most of the CD writing packages.

Why is this even a debate? it’s already been answered.

CD-R - Write once. The ‘R’ stands for recordable
CD-RW - read / write many times. The ‘RW’ stands for Re-Writable.

It doesn’t matter what tool you use - Nero, Windows Media Player, whatever. You only get 1 shot to write to a CD-R. Also, doesn’t matter what tool you use for CD-RW - you can write (and overwrite) the same CD multiple times.

Except it’s not that simple - sure, any given area on the surface of a CD-R can only be written once, but the disc itself - as a whole - can be written to more than once - as separate tracks, or separate sessions - and in some cases, it can be used normally in between those separate writing instances.

CDs can be written with multiple sessions, but you must plan in advance and not finalize until the last one is written. Maybe you don’t need to finalize at all, see below.

Although I have always heard that some CD readers could not read multiple-session disks, after using the media for nearly 20 years, I have yet to find one, at least a computer drive. Standalone audio units…I’m not so sure.

I think the very earliest readers did not understand multiple sessions, but I couldn’t afford the $600 per drive cost back then, so I never used one. By the time they became more affordable, the spec had changed to include multiple sessions.

I have over a thousand data backup CDs made over the last 15 years. None have ever been finalized and most have multiple sessions. Not a single one has caused a computer drive any problem reading, and I dig random ones out often and read them in different computers.

Note: This entire post refers to CD-Rs. I never use RWs – cost more, slower to write, erasing takes time, and the permanance of Rs I consider a plus.

So there.