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This document is Copyright (C) 1996-2010 by Andy McFadden, All Rights Reserved. All of the content here, except for attributed quoted material, is my original work.
Free distribution of the this FAQ is encouraged, as are conversions to HTML or other formats and translation to foreign languages, so long as no content is removed, and additions are clearly marked. (You are not required to retain the Google advertising links.)
The plain ASCII text and www.cdrfaq.org HTML versions aren't otherwise restricted, but other conversions might be (the content is free, the presentation or translation might not be). Check with the publisher.
The date and version number on the FAQ *are* considered part of the content that must not be removed. I occasionally get messages from people who don't realize that the copy they're reading is more than a year and a half old.
Caveat lector: the information here is often derived from Usenet postings, e-mail, and information on web sites. It may well be DEAD WRONG, and you are encouraged to verify it for yourself.
I take no responsibility for damaged hardware, CD-Rs turned into coasters or frisbees, time lost, or any other damages you incur as a result of reading this FAQ. Information on specific models of hardware and software is based on *opinions* of other users, not scientific studies. I am not an expert in this (or any other) field. Everything here could be a total malicious lie, and should be treated as such. You have been warned.
I don't get paid to plug anybody's software or equipment. The sections on "what XXX should I buy" are not here because I want to sway purchases one way or another, they're here because the questions are asked *a lot*, and the answers are pretty consistent. You are invited and encouraged to investigate the capabilities and reputations of all products.
The various product and company names are trademarks of their respective companies.
for a mini-FAQ on copyright laws.
This document attempts to answer Frequently Asked Questions about Compact Disc Recordable technology and related fields. It was originally developed as a Usenet newsgroup FAQ, and is updated and posted about once a month. The main foci are explaining CD-R technology, describing hardware and software solutions for creating audio CDs and CD-ROMs, and helping people find solutions to common problems.
The FAQ is heavily biased toward PCs and computer-based recorders, because that's what I'm most familiar with, but I have made an effort to include useful information for owners of other equipment. I don't anticipate the section on stand-alone audio CD recorders expanding greatly, because they're far simpler to operate than computer-based recorders, and most of the "must know" information about them is more appropriate in an FAQ on stereo systems or studio recording. I do try to address deficiencies in Macintosh coverage.
I don't usually address questions that can be phrased, "how do I make my software do this?" The answers to those should be in the manual that came with your software. In general, this is a collection of answers to specific questions, not a "how to" guide. I have tried to make the answers easy to understand by an inexperienced user, but if you know absolutely nothing about recording CDs then some sections may be confusing.
This is not a newsletter. Actively maintained web sites are a much better source of breaking news than this document, which is updated at most once a month. I also don't try to track moving targets, like CD recorder firmware versions or software versions unless a specific release is especially interesting. Ditto for which recorders work with which packet-writing solutions, or which recorders can overburn.
This FAQ does not, and will not, cover DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, or any of the other formats in the ever-expanding DVD morass. There are other resources on the web for DVD topics.
You will not find a lot of detail about "backing up" copy-protected software, or where to find unlock codes or "warez". There are many web sites that explain these matters at length.
All sections are tagged with a modification date, so you can see how long ago something was revised. (Some of the sections were written 10 years ago and probably need to be rewritten.) If you want to know *everything* that has changed since last time, you can get a set of "context diffs" from http://www.cdrfaq.org/txtdiffs.zip.
Removed some vendors, added others, updated URLs.
There are a few translations available.
German, by Carsten Stupka: http://www.dvddemystifiziert.de/cdr/faq.html.
Hungarian, by Nagy Szabolcs: http://delfin.klte.hu/~nagysz/cdrgyik/.
French, by Marc Kergomard: http://www.lagravuredecd.com/.
Russian, by Oleg Nechay: http://members.tripod.com/greatkorzhik/cdrfaq.htm.
Italian, by Marzona Simone: http://web.tiscali.it/marzonaontheweb/faq/faq.html.
Turkish, by Firat Tarman: http://www.tarman.ws/.
At one point there were Dutch, Chinese, Spanish, and some other Italian and German translations, but those were discontinued by their authors.
French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish translations can be done through http://babelfish.altavista.com/translate.dyn. This is an automatic language translator that is HTML-aware. It only translates the first part of each document, so it's not entirely helpful if you just want to read a translation, but it may make doing a full translation much easier. (The translation is pretty good for an automatic translator, but is still pretty rough. I don't want to post a translation that is inaccurate or misleading, so I'm not going to run the FAQ parts through babelfish automatically.)
If you're interested in translating this FAQ, you are welcome to do so, but please respect the amount of work that I and others have put into it. Don't strip out sections, remove author attributions, or hide the revision date of the document. I don't think the terms in section (0-1) are terribly restrictive. If, for whatever reason, you can't keep up with every update of the English version, that's fine; all I ask is that you include a link to the www.cdrfaq.org version, so that the current information is easily locateable. (Some commonly updated things, like the list of recorders in section (5-1), don't need much translation.) If you don't want to translate a particular section, just leave it in English.
If you want to start with an HTML version, use the pages from http://www.cdrfaq.org/. If you prefer to do the translation on a text document, and you're converting to an iso-latin language, the "faq2html" converter that I use can be found in the "downloads" section on http://www.fadden.com/.
If you do a translation, let me know and I'll put the URL here.
This FAQ covers the three newsgroups in the comp.publish.cdrom hierarchy, one for software, one for hardware, and one for multimedia. The names of the newsgroups imply that the intended topics are related to publishing material on CD-ROMs, but the current discussions cover most everything related to CD-Recordable devices.
Here are a few guidelines. These aren't hard and fast rules -- nobody died and put me in charge of making the rules -- but if you're not sure what the appropriate subject matter is then this may be helpful.
news:comp.publish.cdrom.hardware is the most popular of the groups. Appropriate material includes questions about past, current, and future CD-R devices. Asking for installation help or advice on what to buy is appropriate, as are questions about related hardware like SCSI adapters and CD-ROM drives. Some related newsgroups are:
news:comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.cd-romnews:comp.publish.cdrom.software is for discussions about software used to prepare material for and create CDs and CD-ROMs. Questions about how to do things with a specific piece of software belong here, as do "the CD-R software from XXX won't recognize my drive", and "does a program exist that does YYY". Some related newsgroups are:
news:alt.cd-romnews:comp.publish.cdrom.multimedia is for discussions about creating multimedia products on CD-ROMs. Questions about multimedia authoring software belong here, as do most production-type questions, e.g. "where can I go to get my CD pressed with jewel cases and glossy inserts?" Related newsgroups are:
news:comp.multimediaPlease try to keep cross-posting to a minimum. Broadcasting questions to 3 or 4 related newsgroups will increase the noise level and probably won't get you more answers.
Some general rules apply to all of the comp.publish.cdrom.* groups:
(1) Piracy of CD-ROM software or CDs: CD recorders can be used to make copies of copyrighted material, and while backups of data are legal, making or accepting copies from others most likely isn't. Whatever your opinion of the matter, software piracy and other copyright violations are illegal in most countries in the world, so requests and/or advertisements for pirated material should be kept off the newsgroup. Also, please don't start or participate in a debate about whether or not software piracy is bad. There have been hundreds of such debates over the past several years, and the only thing that either side has managed to prove is that piracy debates are a tremendous waste of time.
(2) Personal CD-R hardware and software sales: strictly speaking, these groups aren't appropriate for selling off your old hardware or software. Such things are best left in misc.forsale.computers.*, ba.market.computers, and related groups. Since many readers are in the market for new hardware, a limited number of clearly marked articles are tolerated. The common Usenet convention is to use "FS: HP4020i $400 obo" for "For Sale" messages and "WTB: HP4020i" for "Want To Buy" messages.
(3) CD-R product advertising: these groups by their nature are somewhat commercial. Many readers are in the market for new hardware or CD-R media, and for this reason a *limited* amount of retail/wholesale advertising is tolerated but discouraged. If you *clearly* mark your postings as advertisements, you will get relatively few complaints. Posting frequent and useless followups just to broadcast your 20-line signature will get you flamed and subsequently ignored. Feel free to send mail to people who post questions about product pricing and availability, but please don't create mailing lists and broadcast to everyone who posts.
(4) Other advertising: while it's certainly the case that most or all of the readers have a CD-ROM drive on a computer, the same could be said of almost every person reading news from a home computer today. Please keep ads in newsgroups that are more appropriate. Advertising the latest educational, game, or adult CD is inappropriate for these groups, as are "hot new Cyrix 686 PC" posts. Subtle attempts to advertise web sites ("golly, this looked really neat, so I thought I'd tell everyone") are more obvious than you might think.
(5) Spam: you cannot make money fast. That's life, get used to it. If the message involves putting your name at the top of a list of 5 or 10 people, don't post it. If it has an 800 or 888 number that a reader would call to hear more about your unique business opportunity, don't post it.
(6) Job postings: looking for job candidates on these newsgroups is a tolerated but generally futile exercise. Most of the readers are looking for or offering help on CD-Rs, not searching for a job. Try one of the other groups, like misc.jobs.offered.
(7) Binaries: as with most Usenet newsgroups, posting binary files (large or small) is inappropriate. If you want to make a binary file available to Usenet readers, send it to an appropriate alt.binaries newsgroup, and just post a pointer to it in the other group(s).
One final note: bear in mind that these groups are read by people all over the world. If you're looking for local retailers, be sure to specify what "local" is for you. Posting in English is the best way to ensure that you will get a response, but the readership is diverse enough that you will likely get a reply no matter what language you use. If you want to quote prices, specify the currency to avoid confusion (e.g. US$300 or CAN$300 or Y30000 or ...).
The first thing to do is look at the web pages for the products you're using. Sometimes there will be software or firmware updates, or pages with information on common problems. Doing a web search or scanning through news archives on servers like Google Groups (http://www.google.com/) will often turn up relevant material.
If you don't find anything, calling or sending an e-mail message to the technical support department for the product that is giving you trouble is a good second step. If you want to contact other users, posting a message to one of the Usenet newsgroups is a reasonable thing to do.
You will get faster, more accurate responses to questions if you include enough detail in your mail message or news posting. For most problems having to do with recording, you need to specify:
Whenever possible, the FAQ tries to use the correct spelling and terminology. Errors should be reported to the FAQ maintainer, but bear in mind that I don't modify the contents of quoted material, the names of products, or the titles of articles and web pages.
Some common mistakes are:
(1) Writing "CDROM" instead of "CD-ROM". It should be CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, and CD-DA, not CDROM, CDR, CDRW, CDDA.
(2) Writing "disk" instead of "disc". The words have the same meaning, but are spelled differently in different countries, just like "color" and "colour". By convention, CDs are called "discs", while hard drives and floppies are called "disks". "Disc-to-disc" copies are different from "disk-to-disc" and "disc-to-disk" copies!
(3) Referring to a sector as a "frame". On a CD, the basic allocation unit visible outside the firmware is the 2352-byte sector (sometimes called a "block"). A "frame" is a structure at a lower level. There are 24 bytes in a frame, and 98 frames in a sector (24*98 = 2352). Even the SCSI-3 MMC specification gets this one wrong.
Since its inception, the FAQ has been made available, in its entirety, free of charge. For nearly nine years, this was done without any overt advertising. This was made possible in large part by Katherine Cochrane and Andy Rubin, who provided free web hosting on cd-info.com and spies.com, respectively. The FAQ was using over 1GB of bandwidth per day at its peak, occasionally exceeding 2GB per day, so hosting the FAQ back in the late 1990s was not for the faint of heart.
The free web hosting days came to an end in January 2005, so I decided that the FAQ should try to pay its own way. I'm currently using Google's advertising service, because Google's ads tend to be tasteful and relevant to readers. It's also easy for me to manage. The ads themselves are chosen by Google based on some criteria I have no control over, so please do not assume that I endorse the ads or vendors in any way.
The text version posted to the newsgroups doesn't cost me anything to distribute, so no ads will be found there. Only the cdrfaq.org version has advertising.
In an effort to keep the FAQ fair and impartial, I have never accepted direct advertising, mutual linking, or links with affiliate IDs. Vendors with relevant products can have URLs added to appropriate sections of the FAQ, simply by asking. Anyone who wishes to provide a link to the FAQ on their web site is welcome to do so.
Products that solve problems specifically addressed here, such as recovering data from damaged discs, repairing scratches, or removing pops and clicks from digitized audio tracks, will be listed under the appropriate topic. CD recording software and hardware vendors can get their own sub-section. Vendors that don't fit in a specific category will be listed in section (8).
When the FAQ was originally written there were people who had e-mail but no web access. Those days are pretty much over, so the answer to this question is "no".
You used to be able to get it from email@example.com, but the MIT site stopped accepting updates in mid-2006.
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FAQ Copyright © 2010 by Andy McFadden. All Rights Reserved.