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Resolve Disc Burning Issues in Mac OS X

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 5/19/2011

Burning a DVD or CD is usually pretty straightforward, but with poor quality media or the wrong settings when copying data to a disc you could end up with a wasted DVD and even an error code. Find out how to avoid these problems and enjoy trouble-free data burning!

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    Why Won't My Mac Burn Discs?

    Sometimes, your Mac won't burn discs... Burning a CD used to be a pretty tricky procedure, requiring lots of free RAM and hard disk space, an optical drive with all of the correct drivers and lots of peace and quiet, just in case a vibration upset the procedure.

    Ten years later, things are much simpler, but that doesn’t mean problems don’t occur. The existence of the error code -5001 when burning CDs and DVDs on Apple Macs is proof enough of this, and while it is a simple enough error to work around, if you do encounter it you can guarantee that you have just wasted a blank disc…

    Macs are usually pretty reliable, and there are various ways in which you might burn a disc; however, all computer systems can encounter errors, and Mac OS X is no different.

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    What is the -5001 Error?

    Typically the -5001 error appears as follows:

    Mac OS error. Result code = -5001

    You will probably find that the error occurs in one of the popular third party disc burning applications such as Roxio Toast, although it can occur with the native optical disc tool.

    There are various causes for the problem, just as there might be various fixes. For instance, if you are burning with an external drive, the fault could be with your drive cable. Additionally, if you are using an older PowerPC iMac, the fault might be because you are using +R media instead of –R discs.

    The -5001 error basically means that there is a problem somewhere with either the chosen media, the condition of the data that you are intending to burn, or the disc drive itself if experiencing difficulties.

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    How to Overcome the Error

    There are various ways to get around this problem. The first is to check the cabling of your external disc drive (if you are using one).

    The second is to confirm that you are using good quality media. Even in modern Intel Mac computers, where the disc drive can burn to +R or –R, the device expects good quality discs. Dual layer discs produced by Verbatim are pretty reliable.

    Additionally and perhaps most crucially, don’t ramp up the disc burning to the maximum speed. If it is a choice between a few seconds or a wasted disc, choose the middle available speed at most.

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    Identifying Mac OS X Error Result Codes

    5001 might seem like quite a high number; in fact you might be surprised to find just how many error codes are present in Mac OS X. Despite its reputation as a near-perfect operating system error codes are still required. Without one, an error would be undefined, making it much tougher to track and resolve.

    There are many different error codes, each concerning different faults with different hardware and processes on a Mac computer. If you see an error code, remember to make a note of it, as this will help you to understand what the problem is.

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    1. Author's own experience
    2. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Mattnad