How to Format a CD in Windows XP for Copying Files

By Editorial Team

Updated December 12, 2019

How to Format a CD in Windows XP for Copying Files. CDs have replaced floppy disks as the primary method of storing, transferring and copying files. They have an exponentially higher capacity and many can be rewritten should you need another CD. Windows XP makes it easy to format a CD for copying files. However, you will need the help of a third-party application.

Format a CD for Copying Files Using Windows XP

Be aware that Windows XP, in its native form, does not directly support CD formatting. Formatting a CD requires support for ISO images that is absent from Windows XP.

Download or purchase CD-writing and formatting software from third-party companies like Roxio and Nero (see Resources below). Third-party CD utilities include features like CD burning, CD imaging and CD formatting.

Install the third-party software, following any special instructions as provided by its software documentation. Many programs will require that you restart Windows in order to complete the installation. Close any other applications and do so.

Place the disc you wish to format into the CD tray. Insure that it is in the CD-R or CD-R/W tray, and not an alternate tray (the DVD tray or a simple CD reader).

Start the third-party application and follow the on screen instructions as they appear. Choose the "Format CD" option from the File menu, or choose to "Create a New CD." The application commands tend to vary from application to application, so be sure to double check the documentation.

Remember to leave the CD in the tray until the process is completely finished. If you remove the CD prior to the completion of the formatting, you will ruin the disc.

Give your new CD a volume name.


Label your CDs, so that you know their contents without having to explore each one individually. This will save you time when you need to find a blank or format-ready CD that doesn't already have critical data on it. Be careful that the CD you wish to format doesn't have critical information on it. Formatting a CD will destroy any previously stored data (if it's a CD-R/W).

Items you will need

  • Windows XP

  • CD-R or CD-R/W

  • CD-R or CD-R/W drive