Types of CD ROM Drives

By Marsha James

Updated February 10, 2017

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CD-ROMs changed the way that information can be saved from a computer. In the past, floppy discs were the media of choice, but they were quickly replaced because CD-ROM's have a higher capacity of storage; they are faster and easier to store. Instead of using multiple floppy discs to save one file, PC users can now store hundreds or even thousands of data files on one CD-ROM.


CD-ROM stands for (Compact Disc Read Only Memory), and it is mainly used to mass produce audio CD's and computer games. Computer users can only read data and music from the discs, but they cannot burn their own information onto the discs, from their personal computers.


CD-R also known as (Compact Disc Recordable) and WORM (Write Once Read Many) is a blank disc that users can put into a CD-ROM drive to burn or make a copy of their personal data, music, videos and information. CD-R's have to use special software to burn specific types of media or data. You cannot use the menu of a data disc to create an MP3 CD or vice versa. Users would select "Audio CD" to burn music or "Data" to burn documents and files.


Unlike a CD-R, the CD-RW (Compact Disc Rewritable) can be erased and returned to its original blank state. New files can then be copied onto the rewritable disk. CD-RW never became as popular as the CD-R's because they are not compatible with most disc players to listen to music. They are primarily used to move data from one computer to another, or to copy files that are only needed a few times.


A standard CD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW can hold up to 700MB of data. As an audio CD, it can be used to store up to 80 minutes of music. In comparison, a DVD-ROM can contain 4.7 GB of information and movies.


Shattering of CD-ROMs while rare, have been known to happen. The incident occurs when discs are used in drives that move at speeds of 48x to 52x. If a CD shatters in the computer during playback or burning, pieces may fly out of the drive and embed into your skin. Manufacturers have tried to build in fail safes to protect users and to prevent CD-ROMs from exploding.