How to back up data using Windows and by using CDs and DVDs as backup media.

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Burning CDs and DVDs

If you have a CD or DVD burner, you can use that hardware to easily create a backup of data stored on your hard disk. Creating a backup is as simple as dragging and dropping the files to an application that allows it. As mentioned earlier though, if you’re burning to a CD, you have to remember that you can’t copy more than 700-800 MB of data. This makes creating a CD a little more complicated than creating a DVD because you have to keep track of the amount of data you’re planning to copy. This usually isn’t such a huge issue with DVDs though, because even the least expensive DVDs hold over 4 GB of data. For the most part, when you insert a blank CD or DVD you have four options:

* Open writable CD folder using Windows Explorer

* Burn a CD (using Windows Media Player)

* Create a CD (using iTunes)

* Take no action

You may have more options, or less, depending on what programs you have on your computer. You may not be prompted with any choices, though, because you have an older operating system, you chose at some point to always open a specific program when you insert a blank CD, or your system is buggy. If that’s the case, you’ll need to select the program from the Programs menu choices or browse to your CD burner’s drive in My Computer in XP or Computer in Vista.

Because there are so many options, the actual process of burning a CD will differ depending on what program you choose. If you choose a third-party program like Nero for instance, you’ll have to work through the program’s interface to add data to burn. However, it is my experience that most programs use a drag-and-drop procedure. With third-party software, most keep track of the data you’re adding too, which will help you know when you’ve collected enough data for the CD or DVD. Once you’ve collected the data, simply use the interface options to burn the media.

Using Vista

In Vista, to burn a Data CD or DVD:

1. Insert a blank CD or DVD into the drive.

2. When prompted, choose a program for burning the media. You can choose from a variety of options depending on the media inserted and the programs you have installed on your PC. Here are a few:

Burn a DVD data disc using Windows Media Player

Burn an Audio CD using Windows Media Player

Burn files to disk using Windows

Burn a DVD video disc using Windows DVD Maker

3. Follow the prompts to create the CD or DVD.

Advantages of this Method of Back Up

Although I have a Windows Home Server and it is configured to back up on a schedule, I still create my own manual backups to CDs and DVDs. If the Home Server ever fails I have a backup. I also have an option to recover a single file easily by simply copying it off the back up CD or DVD. Finally, CDs and DVDs offer a way to efficiently store data off site or take it along. All in all, I prefer these manual backups to automated ones, although I do use both.

This post is part of the series: Know what computer data you need to back up, why you should, and how to do it.

A guide for telecommuters, small business owners, and SOHO users; learn what to back up, why, and how to do it.

  1. Know what data to back up and why
  2. Data Types You should Back Up Regularly
  3. Remember to Back Up Internet Explorer Data
  4. Remember to Back Up Data Created in Third-Party Applications
  5. Back Up System Information, Fonts, and Updates
  6. Back up data to a CD or DVD using Windows
  7. Another Back Up Option – The External Drive
  8. Alternate Backup Strategies and Media
  9. Test and Organize Optical Media Backups
  10. Test and Organize Backups on External Drives
  11. Restore Application –Specific Files and Folders
  12. Conclusion: The Backup Series