Writing a CD Using Ahead Nero

CDs are a cheap, convenient, and durable solution for backing up data or transferring files from place to place. The SSCC strongly recommends that you keep backups of your critical data on CD, or ideally several identical CDs. The long-term archival qualities of CDs are not yet known--they simply haven't been around long enough to see significant failures due to age. But they are more durable than tapes or magnetic disks. CD readers are also ubiquitous--you'll rarely have to worry about finding the right kind of drive to read your CD.

The SSCC makes CD writers available in rooms 2470, 3218, and 4218. If your PC has a CD writer, Ahead Nero may have come with it, or it can be purchased online. The SSCC does not provide CDs, though you may be able to get them from your department. We currently do not recommend "rewriteable" CDs, as some CD readers have difficulty with them.

Please be aware of copyright issues when using CD writers.

Setting Up

Before you can write files to a CD, they need to be copied to the computer's local hard drive (C:). It will not work to copy files to a CD directly from network drives like U:. Your desktop is stored on the C: drive and is a convenient location for temporary storage, though storing large files on the desktop can reduce performance. If you need to write more than one file, put them in a folder on your desktop so you can easily delete them when you're done without accidentally deleting anything else.

Next put a writeable CD in the writer, shiny side down. It's not always obvious which drive is the CD writer and which is the ordinary CD reader, but if Nero tells you there's no disk in the writer, you probably need to switch.

Now start Ahead Nero, the program that writes CDs, by clicking Start, Programs, Ahead Nero, Nero-Burning ROM. When the program starts you'll see the following:

Setting up

If your CD has nothing on it, select Start Multi-session disc. If you already have data on the CD, choose Continue Multisession disc. If you choose the second, look carefully at the options in the lower half of this windows, and make sure you set it the way you want. There are no right or wrong answers for these, just personal preferences. The default is fine if you don't care.

When you're satisfied with your choices, click New on the far right. If you want to answer a number of additional questions on the way, click Wizard instead. It’s not necessary, but many people are used to seeing those options.

Either way you'll soon reach the window where you can decide what goes on your CD:

Choosing what goes on your CD

The top half shows the tables of your hard drive and any removable or mapped drives. The bottom half shows the tables of the CD. To place folders or files on the CD, simply drag them from the top to the bottom. Watch the bar at the bottom of the window to see how much room you have left on the CD. When you are done, click the Write to CD button.

This will open a window for the actual copying procedure.

Writing Your CD

If you are not sure of your CD, you can choose Simulation as your Action, to make sure everything will work all right. Otherwise stick with the default Write, and click the Write button in the top-right corner.

A new window will show you the writing process.

Writing the CD

You can stop the it at any time using the Cancel button, but this will probably render your CD unusable if you do it after the burn process has started.

When the your CD is done, you'll see the following:


Click OK, and one last window will open, asking what you want to do with the messages logged along the way.

Dealing with Messages

If you want to keep a record of the burn process, then choose Save or Print at the bottom of this window. But you probably want to choose Discard and not keep the messages.

Once you make this choice, the CD writer door will open, and you can remove your CD. This will also take you back to the window that you used for choosing files to be placed on the CD. When you close Nero it will ask if you want to save your setup. It won't load properly anyway, so click No. Once you are done, don’t forget to delete any files you may have copied onto your hard drive just for the purpose of creating this CD.

You can label the top of your CD with any permanent marker.

Before you rely on this CD, we strongly recommend that you test it. Put it in a CD reader and make sure you can read it. Ideally use the same reader you anticipate using in the future. For vital data, your complete dissertation research for example, we suggest making two or three identical CDs and storing them in separate locations.

Last Revised: 8/24/2004