Before you can burn files to a CD, DVD, or Blu‑ray Disc, the disc must first be prepared using a process called formatting. There are several ways to format a disc. Your choice of format determines which computers and other devices will be able to read the disc.

  1. Insert a recordable or rewritable disc into your computer's CD, DVD, or Blu‑ray Disc burner.

  2. In the AutoPlay dialog box that appears, click Burn files to disc using Windows Explorer.

  3. Type a name for your disc in the Disc title box.

  4. Click one of the following formatting options:

    • Like a USB flash drive

      The disc will use the Live File System format.

    • With a CD/DVD player

      The disc will use the Mastered format.

  5. Click Next to prepare the disc.

    Now you can burn files to your disc using whichever method you selected. For more information about burning a CD or DVD, see Burn a CD or DVD in Windows Explorer.

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Choosing the right formatting option for the job

When you format a CD or DVD, you can choose either the Live File System or Mastered format. Use the following information to help you determine which formatting option you should choose.

Live File System discs:

  • Enable you to copy files immediately to the disc by dragging them.

  • Are convenient if you want to keep a disc in your disc burner and occasionally copy a few files at a time.

  • Are convenient because there is no lengthy recording step as there is with Mastered discs. Each file is written to the disc as you drag it to the disc folder.

  • Enable you to save a new file directly to the disc.

  • Enable you to update or delete individual files.

  • Enable you to format the disc again when you use a rewritable disc, such as a CD-RW, DVD-RW, or DVD-RAM.

  • Might have to be closed before they can be used in other computers.

  • Are compatible only with computers running on Windows XP and later versions of Windows.

Mastered discs:

  • Enable you to drag files to the disc and then burn all the files at once.

  • Are convenient if you need to burn a large collection of files.

  • Are compatible with computers running older or current versions of the Windows operating system, a different operating system other than Windows, as well as some consumer electronic devices, such as CD players, DVD players, and Blu‑ray Disc players.

  • Might require a large amount of free hard disk space to burn (up to twice the capacity of the disc you're burning).

For more information about these formatting options and determining which one to choose, see Which CD or DVD format should I use?

Choosing the right disc for the job

There are many kinds of writable discs, and not all discs can be formatted in the same way. Refer to the following table for details on disc formatting.

This type of disc Can be formatted
This type of disc


Can be formatted

Only once. Information can't be deleted from this type of disc.

This type of disc


Can be formatted

Many times. If the disc has been formatted at least once, you can erase the disc quickly, format it, and then burn files to it again. For more information about erasing files from a disc, see Erase a CD or DVD.

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