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Installing a CD-R/W Drive on a Windows-based PC

by Ryan Pollack

You are encouraged to make links to this article from your website and tell your friends

The following article is based on years of experience. It is provided as a free service to our customers and visitors. However, Directron.com is not responsible for any damage as a result of following any of this advice.

Copying the contents for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without Directron.com's written consent. However, you are welcome to distribute these computer support tips free to your friends and associates as long as it's not for commercial purposes and you acknowledge the source. You are permitted and encouraged to create links to this page from your own web site.


Removing the Old Drive

This section of the guide will cover how to remove an old CD-ROM or CD-R/W drive. You only need to read this section if you do not have a free drive bay in your case. If you already have a free drive bay, proceed to the next section, "Installing the Drive."

Note: If you have a manual for your computer or case then refer to it for help on removing the side panels.

  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Remove all the cables attached to the back of your computer.
  3. Place your computer on a workbench, a table, a large piece of cardboard, or a hardwood/tile floor. Working on carpet is not recommended due to the fact that carpet builds up a large amount of static electricity that could easily damage your computer.

    Warning: Before you go ANY further, you must remove all static electricity from your body. This step is extremely important because you cannot feel the amount of static electricity necessary to damage your computer. To remove static electricity from your body, simply touch any non-painted metal part of the case frame (not any circuitry or the components themselves!). If you have a grounding wrist strap, attach it now. If not, touch your case frame several times during this procedure in order to disperse any static buildup.

  4. Open your computer's case. If the case sides come off in two parts, then you should remove both pieces in case the drive is screwed in on both sides. Be sure to keep track of any screws you remove. Your computer's manual may assist in this task by directing you on how to remove the side panels.
  5. Locate the drive that you are removing. If you are looking straight at the right side of your case, you will see the drive extend into the case's insides from the front. The drive is usually inside gray housing.
  6. Disconnect all cables attached to the drive. Grip each cable by the plug and not the wire itself. The power cable (the one with the large white plug) is usually the hardest to get off. If there is a skinny black wire attached to the far side of the drive, you need to press in on the plug in order to release it.
  7. Remove any screws connecting the drive to the case.
  8. Slide the drive forward (towards the front of the case) and remove it from the case. At this point, you may wish to protect the drive by placing it on a piece of cardboard or inside an anti-static bag.
| Go to Top |

Installing the Drive

You're now ready to install the new CD-R/W drive. This part of the guide assumes that you have the following:
  • A vacant drive bay
  • A free power connector. If you do not have a free power connector, you will need to purchase a Y-adapter that enables two devices to use one plug. This purchase can be made here: http://www.directron.com/cbl-y.html.
  • A free IDE port (explained below). If you do not have a free IDE port, you can purchase an expansion card that adds ports to your computer. http://www.directron.com/ide.html has a full listing of such products.
Configuring the Drive

Your computer uses data paths (called IDE channels) to transfer data to devices such as CD-R/W drives, hard drives, and CD-ROM drives. Your computer has two IDE ports, and each port can support up to two devices.

The Master/Slave jumper setting on the back of your drive will tell your computer whether your CD-R/W drive is the first or second device on the port. So in order for your computer to properly detect the new CD-R/W drive, you need to set its Master/Slave configuration.

Note: Check the top of the drive for a label describing jumper settings.

  1. Locate the Master/Slave jumper setting on the back of the new CD-R/W drive. Figure 1 shows you where this setting is located.

    Figure 1: Location of the Master/Slave Jumper Settings

  2. Adjust the jumper setting appropriately. If your CD-R/W drive is ... set it as:
    The only device on the IDE channel: Master
    The first device (out of two) on the IDE channel: Master
    The second device (out of two) on the IDE channel Slave
Inserting the Drive
  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Remove all the cables attached to the back of your computer.
  3. Place your computer on a workbench, a table, a large piece of cardboard, or a hardwood/tile floor. Working on carpet is not recommended due to the fact that carpet builds up a large amount of static electricity that could easily damage your computer.
  4. Open your computer case. Your computer's manual may assist in this process.

    Warning: Before you go ANY further, you must remove all static electricity from your body. This step is extremely important because you cannot feel the amount of static electricity necessary to damage your computer. To remove static electricity from your body, simply touch any non-painted metal part of the case frame (not any circuitry or the components themselves!). If you have a grounding wrist strap, attach it now. If not, touch your case frame several times during this procedure in order to disperse any static buildup.

  5. Locate the drive bay where the new CD-R/W drive will reside
  6. Slide the back end of the new CD-R/W drive into the free drive bay, so the drive's tray faces outwards. Most modern cases have small metal brackets that will guide the drive's placement.
  7. Screw the CD-R/W drive into place. You may have to slide the drive back and forth a bit to reveal the screw holes in its side.

    Note:
  8. Use at least two screws when securing your drive. In addition to holding the drive in place, screws minimize drive vibrations and movement that can interfere with use.
Connecting the Cables

You need to attach two cables to your drive for it to work properly: the data cable and the power cable. If you do not have a data cable or one did not come with your CD-R/W drive, contact the manufacturer to get a replacement. Otherwise, you can buy data cables here: http://www.directron.com/cables---adapters-ide---floppy-cables---adapters.html.

The third kind of cable, the audio cable, is optional and is only necessary if you want to play music CDs in your new CD-R/W drive.


Figure 2 A power cable

Figure 3 A data cable
Note the red stripe in the ribbon cable.

  1. Connect the data cable to the CD-R/W drive. The cable only fits in one way, so there's no need to force it in. In figure 3 you will note the red stripe running down one side of the cable. This stripe must align with Pin 1 on the drive's connector. Pin 1 is marked on the back of the drive in white lettering.
  2. Connect the other end of the data cable to the IDE port. The red stripe on the cable must again align with Pin 1 on the IDE port. Again, Pin 1 is marked.
  3. Connect the power cable to the CD-R/W drive. Make sure that it fits snugly inside the socket.
  4. Connect the audio cable to the CD-R/W drive (Only one end fits in the right spot).
  5. Connect the other end of the cable to your sound card. Refer to your sound card's manual for further help on this issue. Your CD-R/W manual might also be able to provide assistance in this task.
Congratulations! You're almost ready to start making your own CDs.

Finishing Up the Installation: Drivers and Recording Software

You need to install the drivers (pieces of software that let Windows make use of your hardware) and recording software (programs like Nero and Easy CD Creator that let you record CDs) before you can start recording CDs. Since this process varies from drive to drive, consult the manual that came with your CD-R/W drive for assistance. Recording a CD

This section will walk you through recording data and audio CDs in a popular CD recording program, Nero Burning ROM. All the operations in this section should be performed using CD-R media, not CD-R/W media. Recording a Data CD

  1. Insert a blank CD-R disc into your CD-R/W drive
  2. Start Nero. The Nero Wizard, a series of menus designed to streamline the CD recording process, will appear.
  3. Select Next to begin creating a CD
  4. Select Compile a New CD, then select Next
  5. Select Data CD from the three choices you are given, then select Next
  6. Select Create a New Data-CD, then select Next
  7. Select Finish. The wizard will close and Nero will present you with two windows labeled ISO1 and File Browser. The ISO1 window contains the files that will be recorded to the CD; the File Browser window shows the contents of your entire hard drive.
  8. Navigate the File Browser window to the directory where your files are.
  9. Drag 'n drop the files you want to record into the ISO1 window.

    Tips:
    • Right-clicking on any whitespace in the ISO1 window will present you with a window. From here, you can create separate directories in which to place related files. You can view this directory structure in the left-hand frame of the ISO1 window, exactly like the structure of the File Browser window.
    • You can change the name of the data CD by left-clicking once on the word 'NEW' in the left-hand frame of the ISO1 window and pressing F2. This is the name that will appear in My Computer when you insert the recorded CD into a drive later on.
    • Keep track of the amount of data you have on the CD with the progress bar at the bottom of the screen.


    Figure 4 The Nero Window

  10. Select Write CD from the File Menu. A new window will appear with several options:

    Test (no actual burning): This option will simulate a CD-writing operation but will not actually perform it. Simulations prevent wasted CDs by catching any errors before any data is actually written to the disc.

    Test and burn: This option will simulate a CD-writing operation and then follow by actually writing the data.
    • Burn: This option leaves out the simulation and simply writes the data to the CD.
    • Create Image: This box, when checked, will create an "image" on the hard drive instead of writing data to the CD. You can then transfer this image between computers if you so desire. If this box is checked, Nero will prompt you for a location in which to save the file, and no data will be written to the CD.
    • Write speed: This drop-down box contains all the supported speeds at which your CD-R/W drive can write information. You want to leave this at the highest number available. However, if frequent errors occur, you may want to drop the speed down a notch.
    • Close Wizard: This box will cancel out the Nero Wizard and allow you to select some more advanced options for recording a CD.
    • Burn: This button starts writing data to the CD.


  11. Select Burn when you are finished setting all available options. A new window will open that shows the progress of the recording operation.
Recording an Audio CD

  1. Insert a blank CD-R disc into your CD-R/W drive
  2. Start Nero. The Nero Wizard, a series of menus designed to streamline the CD recording process, will appear.
  3. Select Next to begin creating a CD
  4. Select Compile a New CD, then select Next
  5. Select Audio CD from the three choices you are given, then select Next
  6. Select Create a New Audio-CD, then select Next
  7. Select Finish. The wizard will close and Nero will present you with two windows labeled Audio1 and File Browser. The Audio1 window contains the files that will be recorded to the CD; the File Browser window shows the contents of your entire hard drive.
  8. Navigate the File Browser window to the directory where your music files are.
  9. Drag 'n drop the files you want to record into the Audio1 window.

    Tip: Keep track of the total length of songs you have on the CD with the progress bar at the bottom of the screen.

  10. Select Write CD from the File Menu. A new window will appear with several options:

    1. Test (no actual burning): This option will simulate a CD-writing operation but will not actually perform it. Simulations prevent wasted CDs by catching any errors before any data is actually written to the disc.

    2. Test and burn: This option will simulate a CD-writing operation and then follow by actually writing the data.

    3. Burn: This option leaves out the simulation and simply writes the data to the CD.

    4. Create Image: This box, when checked, will create an "image" on the hard drive instead of writing data to the CD. You can then transfer this image between computers if you so desire. If this box is checked, Nero will prompt you for a location in which to save the file, and no data will be written to the CD.

    5. Write speed: This drop-down box contains all the supported speeds at which your CD-R/W drive can write information. You want to leave this at the highest number available. However, if frequent errors occur, you may want to drop the speed down a notch.

    6. Close Wizard: This box will cancel out the Nero Wizard and allow you to select some more advanced options for recording a CD.

    7. Burn: This button starts writing data to the CD.


  11. Select Burn when you are finished setting all available options. A new window will open that shows the progress of the recording operation.

    Appendix

    The following is additional information you can use as a reference.

    Understanding Recordable Media



    Recording CDs involves three separate components:
    • The drive The physical drive that you insert into your computer. This guide will cover the process of installing the drive in your computer.
    • The media The blank discs onto which you record information. These discs come in two formats, which will be discussed below.
    • The software The program that you install on your computer that allows you to select what information you wish to record
    Since all drives today can record onto both kinds of media, this guide will not differentiate between the types of drives. This guide assumes that you have purchased a CD-R/W drive which is capable of writing to both kinds of media formats (discussed below). Recordable Media Formats

    Recordable media comes in two formats: CD-Recordable (CD-R) and CD-Recordable/ReWritable (CD-R/W). Several important differences characterize each type.

    CD-R

    Record Once

    What defines CD-R as a medium is the fact that it can only be recorded on once. If an error occurs in your software while recording the CD, that's it; the CD remains half-written and can no longer be used. Along these lines, once you successfully record data to a CD, you cannot erase it or record more data to it. Many people half-jokingly refer to these useless CDs as coasters, because their use as a medium has been destroyed.

    Today's CD-R drives utilize technologies that prevent this scenario from occurring most of the time. Most drives advertise these features as "Burn-Proof Protection," "SMART" burning, or "Buffer-Underrun Protection."

    Inexpensive

    CD-R media is inexpensive. In bulk packs of 100, blank CD-Rs can cost as little as $0.13 apiece for a total of $13. Even in packs of ten, CD-Rs generally do not cost more than $0.25 or $0.30 per disc.

    Capacity

    Two capacity types of CD-Rs exist. Either data or audio can be recorded on a single CD. Mixing both types on a single CD goes outside the scope of this guide; refer to your software documentation for help on such issues.

    Table 1 shows the different capacities for each type of disc:

    Data capacity Audio Capacity Type 1 650 Megabytes of data 74 minutes of recorded audio Type 2 700 Megabytes of data 80 minutes of recorded audio

    Table 1 Different capacities depending on the type of CD-R

    Uses

    CD-R media has many uses:

    • Making a permanent backup of important data
    • Making a copy of a data CD
    • Making a copy of an audio CD
    • Making a customized audio CD to play in any CD player
    • Making an MP3 CD to play in any MP3 CD player CD-R/W
    Note: You must have a CD-R/W capable drive in order to write to CD-R/W media. Any drive you buy today will have this capability. Still, it is a good idea to check with whomever you purchase the drive from to ensure that it can write to CD-R/W media.

    CD-RW

    Record Multiple Times

    CD-R/W media lives up to its ReWritable name. You can write information to a CD-R/W disc up to 1,000 times, depending on which brand you choose.

    Price

    While packs of CD-R/W discs won't break your wallet, they do cost more than CD-R media. A typical pack of 100 CD-R/W discs will cost about $40, or approximately $2.50 per CD. This higher cost reflects the ability to write to each disc over and over again, something that cannot be done with CD-R discs.

    Capacity

    CD-R/W discs are available in the same capacities as CD-R discs. Refer to Table 1 above for more information.

    Uses

    Since you can write to a CD-R/W disc more than once, you can use CD-R/Ws to transfer large files. In this capacity, the CD-R/W medium acts like a large floppy disk that can be written to over and over again. New technologies such as Mount Ranier allow dragging-and-dropping of files identical to floppy disks. The Meaning of the X Numbers on CD-R/W Drives

    CD-R/W drives are measured in terms of how much data they can write per second. The base measurement of this speed is 1x. 1x is a speed of 150 kilobytes (KB) per second. So a CD-R/W drive labeled as 1x could write data to a CD at 150KB per second.

    When shopping around for a CD-R/W drive, you will see pieces of information that look like the following:

    40x/12x/40x

    or

    32x/10x/40x

    A measurement of 40x indicates that the CD-R/W drive is 40 times faster than the base speed of 1x: it can write data at 6,000 KB (or 6 Megabytes) per second. 32x indicates 32 times the base speed of 1x, and so on.

    The three numbers always appear in the same order and represent the same measurements:

    • The first number is a measurement of how fast the CD-R/W drive can write data to CD-R media
    • The second (middle) number is a measurement of how fast the CD-R/W drive can re-write data to CD-R/W media. This number is always less than the first number because re-writing data takes more time than simply writing data once.
    • The third number is a measurement of how fast the CD-R/W drive can read data from a CD that already contains data For example, 40x/12x/40x means that the CD-R/W drive:
      • Writes to CD-Rs at 40x speeds
      • Re-writes to CD-R/Ws at 12x speeds
      • Reads data from any CD at 40x speeds

        A measurement of 32x/10x/40x means that the CD-R/W drive:
        • Writes to CD-Rs at 32x speeds
        • Re-writes to CD-R/Ws at 10x speeds
        • Reads data from any CD at 40x speeds
        In all three categories, higher numbers indicate better drive performance.


      If you find this article useful, please create a link to it from your website or tell a friend about it. If you have any comments or suggestions about this article, please email information@directron.us




      Installing a CD-RW Drive on a Windows-based PC
      Part Number:cdrw-guide


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