What Is a Writable Disc?

By Marie Cartwright

Writable discs are a cheap, convenient means of data storage.
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The term "writable disc" appears often in the digital world. You may have seen it while creating a new MP3 playlist, or a computer troubleshooting article may have recommended burning a copy of some software to a writable disc. Whatever your need for a writable disc, this basic computer storage device is simple to understand.

Writable Disc Basics

Writable discs are CDs or DVDs that you can store files on. People commonly use these discs to back up photos, create custom CDs, store executable programs, or make DVDs of home movies. Many modern CD and DVD players recognize writable discs as valid playback sources. Writable discs can only be written to once, which means that once any files are added to the disc, they are there for good. You should always double-check your files before adding them to a writable disc.

Writable vs. Rewritable

Since the advent of the rewritable disc, it has become more difficult to find discs that are simply writable. A rewritable disc can be written to again and again. Files can be copied from it and then deleted. Because of their versatile nature, rewritable discs serve as common storage and back-up devices. You can tell a writable disc from a rewritable disc by the way they are labeled. A writable disc is marked CD-R or DVD-R. A rewritable disc is marked CD-RW or DVD-RW.

How Writable/Rewritable Discs Are Used

All desktop computers and many laptops have a disc drive capable of writing data to a writable disc. Most computers support a simple drag-and-drop method of copying files to a writable disc. In other words, putting files onto your disc is usually as simple as inserting the disc into your computer, opening the file folder on your hard drive, and dragging the files onto the disc. Writable discs have a limit to how much data they can store, so always check your file sizes to make sure that they'll fit on your disc.

Where Writable Discs Can Be Found

Writable and rewritable discs are easy to locate. Any computer or electronics store will carry writable discs. Due to their popularity, you can find writable discs in many large drugstores and even some convenience stores. Writable discs are sold in packs of a dozen or more. Before purchasing discs, it's a good idea to know what you'll be storing on them. Discs sometimes come with different storage capacities, so it's helpful to have a rough idea of the amount of data space you'll need.