Today we are going to talk about burning CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. Sadly, this is not a bonfire ritual, it is the act of writing data to the disc.
Got Any Matches?
No! No matches. No lighters. No rubbing two sticks together. It’s not that kind of burning. When referring to discs, such as CDs, burning is a way to write information to those discs. Instead of asking for fiery implements, you should instead ask for a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray burner.
Should I Burn CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Rays?
There are three common disc types in use now. The first and oldest is known as the compact disc, or CD. CDs are cheap and fast compared to the other disc types; however, they typically only hold 700 megabytes of data.
Digital versatile discs, or DVDs, were the successor to CDs. DVDs hold either 4.7 gigabytes or 8.5 gigabytes depending on whether it is “single-layer” or “double-layer.” The smaller single-layer option is cheaper and faster than the double-layer, but doesn’t hold as much data.
Blu-ray discs are the newest entrants to the lineup. They hold either 25 gigabytes for single-layer, or 50 gigabytes for dual-layer, and are the most expensive and are slightly slower than DVDs. There is a variation on the Blu-ray technology that allows up to 128 gigabytes on the disc, but that hasn’t gained widespread support yet.
When choosing the type of disc you are going to use, it is usually best to select the cheapest one that is large enough to hold what you need. If you are only burning 100 megabytes of data, doing it on a CD is faster and cheaper than on a dual-layer DVD. Modern burner drives will write to any of the three. To give you an idea of the costs involved, listed below is a burner drive, and the various types of discs available.
Blu-ray, DVD, and CD Burner
50 Blu-ray Discs, Double Layer (50 GB)
50 Blu-ray Discs, Single Layer (25 GB)
50 DVDs, Double Layer (8.5 GB)
50 DVDs, Single Layer (4.7 GB)
50 CDs (700 MB)
As you can see, you probably want to use the smallest, cheapest option that will hold your data. Going bigger is a waste.
What Can I Burn?
Anything you want, you little pyromaniac you. These discs can store any data. However, the procedure for burning certain types of data may vary. For example, burning a music CD is different from burning a Blu-ray movie, and that is different from burning an ISO image to a DVD. For now, we will focus on burning ISO images.
The procedure for doing so is fairly straightforward, if you know where to look.
Okay, I’ve Got the Matches. Let’s go!
ACK! No! Put the matches away! Just load an empty, writable disc into the burner into your computer and follow our instructions.
Burning with Microsoft Windows 7 and Later
Windows 7 introduced a simple yet effective built-in program that will burn ISO images to a disc.
Make sure the empty disc is in your burner, find your ISO image file in the File Explorer, right-click on it, and click “Burn disc image.” Make sure the selected drive in the dropdown menu is your burner and click “Burn.” Checking the “Verify disc after burning” box will make sure the burning process was successful, but takes extra time.
Burning with Earlier Versions of Windows
Before Windows 7, Microsoft did not include a burning program with Windows, and you needed to get a 3rd party tool. Free ISO Burner is a free, easy-to-use tool for the job. The only major difference between Free ISO Burner and Microsoft’s utility in later versions of Windows is that you must open Free ISO Burner and select your ISO image from within the program instead of right-clicking on the ISO image in the File Explorer.
Burning with OS X
Mac OS X has a program called Disk Utility which will burn ISO images. Open the Applications > Utilities menu and click Disk Utility to open it. Insert your blank disc, then drag and drop the ISO image from the File Explorer into the left pane of Disk Utility, click the “Burn” button up top. Ensure the selected drive is correct in the window that appears and click “Burn.”
Burning with Linux
There are a number of programs that will burn ISO images in Linux. Most distributions come with a tool pre-loaded. K3b is a popular burning software choice for many distributions, so that’s the tool we will explain here. If you need help with a specific burning program for your distribution, let us know its name and your distribution in the comments, and we will gladly help out.
Insert the blank disc into your burner, and open K3b. Click the Tools menu followed by “Burn <disc format> image…” replacing <disc format> by CD, DVD, or Blu-ray depending on what type you are using. A window will open, choose your ISO image using the File Explorer and click “Start.”
I’ve Got That Burnin’ Feelin’
Excellent! Burn away. Just do it our way, not with matches.
Burning any ISO image to CDs, DVDs, or Blu-rays is generally straightforward. If something isn’t working out for you, let us know in the comments and we’ll help as best we can. If everything worked wonderfully, let us know what nifty stuff you burned… to the disc, not something you burned down with those matches.