Can't Write To CD-RW Drive

If you cannot get the software to work with your CD-R or CD-RW drive, by far the most likely explanation is that you have not installed all the software which came with your CD-R or CD-RW drive. Your drive should have come bundled with something called "packet writing" software, which is required by my software. This is what allows other programs to write to your CD-R or CD-RW drive through its drive letter, similar to a hard disk or floppy diskette.

Packet writing software is generally part of a larger software application for your CD-R or CD-RW drive, though frequently it isn't automatically installed when the larger application is installed. This is usually the explanation when my software can't write to a CD-R or CD-RW drive. If you received Easy CD Creator with your drive, the packet writing software is called Direct CD. If you received Nero Burning ROM, the packet writing software is called InCD. I'm sure there are other equivalent packages available.

To determine if your problem is missing packet writing software, try to use Windows Explorer to create a folder on your CD-R or CD-RW disc, and then use Windows Explorer again to copy a file to that folder. Do both of these things exactly like you would for your hard drive, but with the drive letter you would ordinarily use to *READ* something from your CD-RW drive. You should be able to write with that drive letter as well. Do *NOT* use the standard CD-R/CD-RW burning software that comes with Windows XP, use the normal drive letter you would use for *READING* th CD-RW drive. It is important to use Windows Explorer, not some other program. If Windows Explorer can create a folder and copy a file to a CD-R or CD-RW disc, then your packet writing software is functional, and you should be able to use my backup software.

If you can't copy with Windows Explorer, then you should rerun the setup program for the software that came with your CD-R or CD-RW drive. Look for an option in the setup program to install packet writing software. It probably won't be called that in the setup program, instead it will be called either the specific program name (Direct CD or InCD, for example), or something very generic (the ability to write to the CD-R or CD-RW drive from Windows Explorer and other programs by using the drive letter).

If the Windows Explorer test passes, but you still can't use the drive letter in my software, there is one last test which may turn up something: Using Windows NOTEPAD to save a file to the CD-RW drive. Sometimes Windows Explorer is overly clever, and may do something other than what I am expecting. NOTEPAD, however, is dumb as a stump. To perform this test, click "Start", "Run...", and enter "notepad ?:backuptest.txt" into the box. Instead of "?", insert the drive letter you normally use to *READ* from your CD-RW drive. So it will probably look something like "notepad e:\backuptest.txt". Then click "OK". NOTEPAD will start, and give you a message saying there is no such file and asking if you want to create it. Click "Yes". The main NOTEPAD window will then open, where you can type any text you like. Enter a few lines of text - it doesn't matter what. Then select "File" on the menu, and "Save". If you don't get an error, then it worked, and your packet writing software works fine. If you use the same drive letter in my software, it ought to work fine.

An alternate way to diagnose whether you have packet writing software is to use Windows Explorer to look at the "file system" of the backup disc. Put the backup disc in the CD-RW drive, wait for it to spin up and be recognized in Windows Explorer, then right click the drive letter for the CD-RW drive with the mouse and select "Properties". The properties dialog for that drive will open. Look at the "File system:" shown on the dialog. For a normal hard disk this will be "FAT", "FAT32", or "NTFS". For a mass-produced read-only CD-ROM this will be "CDFS" (meaning "CD file system"). For discs prepared (formatted) to be used with packet writing, the value will reflect the packet writing software you use and the type of media. For Direct CD, CD-R media will be "CDUDF", and CD-RW media will be "CDUDFRW". If you see "UDF" (no "CD" anywhere), then you probably do not have packet writing software installed or you have not formatted the CD-R/CD-RW disc to use it.

I am not an expert in all the different kinds of packet writing software, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when using various specific packages: (1) To my knowledge, Nero InCD will give you packet writing capability for CD-RW discs, but not CD-R discs. This means you can use my backup software and InCD to write CD-RW discs, but not CD-R discs. (2) To my knowledge, NTI FileCD provides packet writing capability but does not make it available to other programs via the drive letter. It is only available by drag and drop to the FileCD window. I do not believe this will work with my backup software, but I am not 100% sure. (3) Adaptec (Roxio) DirectCD provides packet writing for both CD-RW and CD-R, and is compatible with my backup software.

Other software loaded on a computer has been known to cause problems as well, particularly virus checkers, screen savers, and power management software. Try disabling these to see if the situation improves. You should also check the web site for your packet writing software to see if there is an upgrade available which addresses any problems with your make and model of CD-RW drive, or version of Windows.

Several people have also cured problems like this by upgrading their packet writing software. Even though their packet writing software seemed to work fine when used outside my software, upgrading caused problems inside my software to go away.

* Special Note to Everybody *

You should also look at the "General Bizarre Misbehavior" topic under "Troubleshooting Errors". Many problems can manifest themselves in a wide variety of ways, from simple refusal to write to the drive to any number of error messages at various places during the process.

* Special Note on Windows XP *

Windows XP has more support for CD-RW drives than earlier versions of Windows, but it does NOT include packet writing. It includes "mastering" software, where you collect copies of all the files you want to write to a "holding area" on your hard disk, and then you've collected everything the whole collection is written at once. You cannot write file by file, which is what packet writing supports and my software requires. All the popular third party software for CD-RW drives, such as Easy CD Creator and Nero Burning ROM, have versions which supply packet writing for Windows XP which will allow you to use my software.