Ten Important Tips for Burning DVDs

Burning DVDs may not seem difficult, but knowing a few tricks can make burning DVDS even more of a snap. Here are some facts that veteran disc copiers already know.

 Always use reliable media | The quality of the blank DVD matters. In fact it may be the biggest variable in determining the quality of the finished DVDs. Brand name DVDs may cost a little more, but are usually very competitively priced. Be leery of unknown bargain brands if the results matter to you. Not wasting time burning defective copies makes it worth paying the premium. Some discount brands may be fine, however. If you are doing a lot of burning, it may be worthwhile to experiment with various brands. You may discover great quality at big savings.

Check each disk before burning | Defective discs sometimes slip through, or even more likely, they were damaged during handling and shipping. Make a quick check for obvious visual flaws like splotches, cracks, peeling, and scratches. This can save the frustrating time of a DVD drive trying to read or format a defective disc.

Keep discs and the DVD drive clean | Dust and dirt are also major causes of burning errors. If possible, keep the DVD burner in a clean area, and regularly dust it off and do other recommended periodic maintenance. Keep blank media in a clean place as well, and avoid directly touching the bottom of the disc. Our hands contain oils, dirt, and other impurities that can interfere with quality burning. Try to handle discs only by the sides. 

Use quality burning hardware and softwareThe best software is the application that is easy to use and still provides fast and consistent results. Using cumbersome software makes burning DVDs a drag, and increases the odds of mistakes. If you can choose a drive for burning, consider the available support as well as technical features (speed).  Roadblocks and problems can waste huge amounts of time as well as be extremely exasperating. For both hardware and software, paying a little more for good technical support in case it is needed is money well spent.

Keep software and drivers up to date | Hardware and software producers regularly fix known problems and improve performance with updates. Staying current with revisions and patches will keep things running smoothly. Registering your product will keep you informed of new version releases.

Use the most compatible options | When burning DVDs that may be used on a wide variety of players or drives, ensuring wide capability is paramount. For example, the Universal Disc Format (UDF) default setting for most burning applications is 1.5.  However, burning at a UDF setting of 1.02 will actually assure the most compatibility among drives. You should be able to change this setting in the application's options menus.

Close unused applications and windows when burning | Burning DVDs on a computer uses a lot of its processor and memory resources. Having processors and memory occupied with unneeded tasks bogs things down. To make things go faster and avoid errors, close unused applications. Even temporarily disabling the antivirus will speed things along.

Burn at slower speeds | Some discuss write speeds as though it is the only thing that matters. Testing shows, however, that the higher the speed the more likely errors will occur. Consider running at least one step slower than the maximum drive rate. You may end up with more reliable results, and save money on blank media as well (since higher write speed capable media is more expensive.)

Choose the best labeling option | Writing on a disc with a marker may be fine for home use, but be careful - some inks can leech into the disk and corrupt the data. It's best to use a specially made disc-safe marker. Handwriting on a disc isn't very professional for business use, though. Printed adhesive labels are an inexpensive option if you only have to label a few discs every week, but cumbersome if you're trying to print a lot of labels and stick them evenly on DVDs. Plus, they can come loose and jam up a drive. If you burn and label a lot of discs for your business, the best is a thermal disc printer with thermal-safe discs.

Don't forget to finalize the disc | Just because you have burned a DVD doesn't mean it is ready for all DVD drives or players. Most burners require a Finalization step that converts the DVD to the universal format accepted by virtually any DVD drive.

Following these tips should provide the consistent DVD burning results you want.  Avoid these common pitfalls, and you will avoid the frustration and rework caused by the typical rookie mistakes.  


Updated 5/18/2011 by SuperMediaStore Staff