Windows XP: Burning desire

Last month in Bugs and Fixes I mentioned that certain versions of the Easy CD Creator software from Roxio will not be supported in Windows XP. Only the newest versions of Roxio's software will work and only if you download the appropriate update files from the Roxio Web site. This means that you will have to fork out money for a new version of Roxio Easy CD Creator, or even turn to Nero or another program.

Unfortunately, not all programs work with all CD-RW drives, so you'll have to scour hardware and software vendor Web sites to make sure your particular drive will work under the software you're contemplating buying - and then, you'll have to make sure that software will work under Windows XP. It can be a very frustrating process.

One way to overcome this snag until better-supported software is released is to use Windows XP's own built-in CD burning support. Danny Allen went through the steps involved in creating audio CDs using Media Player 8 in his January 2001 Audio Here's How column, and this month I will go through the steps involved in creating CDs using the Windows Explorer interface.

ADDING FILES

The easiest file-adding method to use when creating CDs using XP is the good old drag and drop, and you can do this from within Windows Explorer. Open Windows Explorer from the Start menu and navigate the tree branch structure until you find the folder that contains the files you want to burn. Select them and drag them to your CD-RW drive icon. Assuming you haven't installed Tweak UI and removed the (mostly annoying) balloon tips, a little balloon tip will be displayed in your system tray telling you there are files waiting to be written to CD.

If you find dragging and dropping cumbersome, then there is a way around that. You can select files, right-click on them, and select Send To-CD Drive (x), where (x) is replaced by your drive letter. Or, you could even use the Edit menu to Copy your files, then open your CD-RW drive window and Paste the files into it.

ORGANISING FILES

Once you have added the files you want to burn to your CD, open up the CD-RW drive by double-clicking on its icon in My Computer to view them all. Unless you copied entire folders to your disc, you will find that all your files are in the root folder of the CD. You can easily organise your files into folders, though: right-click anywhere in the window, select New-Folder and name it appropriately. Now it's just a matter of again dragging and dropping files from the root folder of the CD to the new folder you've created.

It is worth creating a folder structure on your blank discs prior to dragging any files to it. That way, you will be able to see and utilise the tree structure in Windows Explorer and put files into their appropriate locations in one go.

RECORDING

Once your files have been added and you're happy with the layout of your disc's structure, it is time to burn the disc. From Windows Explorer, select your CD-RW drive icon from the tree structure on the left and click File-Write these files to CD. Alternately, open up My Computer, double-click your CD-RW drive icon and execute the same command from the File menu once again. This will invoke the CD Writing Wizard. You can give your CD a name; the default name will be the current date.

There are no other options to play with, but, as I explained in the December 2001 column, you can adjust the write speed by right-clicking on your drive in My Computer, clicking Properties and selecting the Recording tab.

Click Next to continue with the CD creation. At this point, if you don't have a blank CD inserted you will be prompted to insert one. Once a blank disc is in place, the write will commence automatically and, once finished, the wizard will display a message of success. Your CD will also eject, although, if it doesn't, you can select the Automatically eject CD after writing from the drive's Recording tab.

ADDING MORE FILES

The CD you create will remain open, which means that you can add more files to your disc at any time until it becomes full. The same procedure applies, as outlined above, for burning additional files. Unfortunately, RW discs can not be utilised to their full effect with this method, so a third-party program is essential if you want to delete data efficiently. You can update data files easily enough, but you can not delete individual files; instead, you have to wipe the entire disc.

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Elias Plastiras
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