Download directly to CD using Windows XP?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Kim S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I love your site! It is one of the best I have ever seen to date. My question for you is this: I have Windows XP Home Edition and I would like to be able to save my the programs I download directly to CD recordable. The problem is, I don't see an option in the 'Save as' window to save to disc. Can you help? "

My response:

First, let me say that this is a tricky subject and requires quite a bit of technical knowledge. I will do my best to give you the 'break down' with the least amount of techie-talk; however, I strongly believe that you'll find it *much* easier just to use CD Burning software (like Ashampoo CD Burning Suite) to write your files to disc after they've been saved to your hard drive, rather than burning directly to CD.

With that said, here goes.

RE: Writing directly to CD with Windows XP

From what I understand, most new CD recorders support something called "Mt Ranier", which allows you to burn directly to CD (similar to copying to a floppy disk, for example). In order to write to a Mt Ranier compatible drive, you will first need to install Windows XP Service Pack 1, available from Microsoft.

If your CD Recorder does *not* support Mt Ranier, you will need to install supplemental "packet writing" software, in order to write to directly to a CD. The caveat here is that most packet writing software is not freeware. Furthermore, packet writing software (DirectCD, InCD, DLA, for example) are not natively compatible with other Windows systems. Also, CD packet writing software will disable Windows XP's built-in CD recording feature, so you will have to use the packet writing software interface to record directly to CD (Source:

If your CD Recorder drive supports Mt Ranier, and you have Windows XP Service Pack 1 installed, you can easily write to CD using these steps:

First, make sure that your CD-R drive has "enabled recording". To do this, go to My Computer, right click your CD-Recorder drive, and select Properties. Go to the Recording Tab and ensure that "Enable CD Recording on this drive" has a checkmark beside it. Once recording is enabled, insert your disc. If you're using a CD-RW, you can format by right-clicking on the CD-Recorder drive and select "erase this CD-RW".

If you want to save a file from the Internet to CD, for example, simply click the download link, and a "File Download" window should appear. From here, click the "Save" option, and then a "Save As" window will ask where to save the file. In this case, select your CD Recordable drive from the pull-down menu. Note, however, that any file downloaded will actually save to your hard drive first; you will need to right-click the CD-R drive in My Computer and select "write files to disc" to actually store the downloaded file(s) to disc.

RE: Burning small files directly to CD vs. in "batch" mode

Each time you burn files to CD, the table of contents (TOC) on the disc must be updated. When the TOC is written, it uses up ~14 megabytes on the disc. For example, if you used the "write files to the disc" 10 times in a day, that would use up 140 megabytes on the disc; since most CD recordable discs have 680 megabytes of storage, this would be very wasteful. Therefore, it's a good idea to use the "write files to the disc" feature only if there is a significant amount of files to write to the disc (and that exceed more than 14 megabytes in size).

More information on directly burning to a CD using Windows XP

There is a web page dedicated to burning directly to a CD using Windows XP, available from The page explains in great detail much of what I just said, but the lingo is a bit technical and may be over the head of some Readers.

Alternative Solutions to Direct CD Writing

As I mentioned at the top of this article, burning directly to CD using Windows XP can prove to be confusing -- if not difficult for most users. Personally, I only write files to CD when I'm ready to use a good portion of the disc, and even then, I use CD mastering software to get the job done.

If you're looking for super easy to use CD Burning software, consider using Ashampoo CD Recording Suite 4. It not only copies files to CD, but can also copy CDs, create music CDs, make movies CDs, and a heck of a lot more -- without requiring hardly any knowledge. It's perfect for newbies and comes highly recommended. You can read the review here:

CD Mastering Software

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