Sept 2000                                                                                                     

Web Master Wanderings
By Curt Potsic, Space Coast PC Users Group

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SCPCUG Web Master Curt Potsic

Last month I talked a little about my new Smart and Friendly ( Rewritable CD-Recorder (or burner). I indicated that Smart and Friendly was in financial trouble and my one year warranty might be worthless. It has now been confirmed that Smart and Friendly quietly went into bankruptcy and their assets were liquidated in mid-May. Surprisingly their web site is still up as I write this. I have seen Smart and Friendly products still on store shelves. Be aware you buy such products at your own risk as there is no company support.

This month I want to go into more detail on exactly what is involved in making (or burning) a data CD. Despite what the CD burner manufacturers would like you to believe, for other than creation of a simple CD, CD burning can get quite involved. Making a mistake along the way can result in creating a CD that is not usable. Because of this my article will be quite long and so will be spread out over two months. This month is part 1 of 2 on "Making a Data CD".

Most CD-Recorders come with Adatptec's Easy CD Creator ( My comments will be with respect to Easy CD Creator Standard Edition ver 3.5c ( but in general should apply to other versions. My computer is a 5 year old Gateway 100 MHz Pentium (upgraded to 233 MHz) with 64 MB of RAM running Windows 98 Second Edition. It is far from a power house of a computer. My Smart and Friendly 4x4x24x CD-Recorder requires as a minimum a Pentium 100 MHz with 16 MB of RAM, so I am well within those parameters. Furthermore my CD-Recorder comes with an internal buffer of 2 MB. Buffer size can play a very important role in successful CD burning. For further discussion on buffer problems see Adaptec: Support: Buffer Underruns at and The Truth About Buffer Underruns at Also, some of the terminology in this article may be new to you. A ready reference is CD-R Glossary at

Easy CD Creator comes with a Wizard that will walk you through creating a data CD but it does not give you the flexibility or understanding of all that is involved. I have found several web sites that claim to show you step by step how to create a data CD but again they just gloss the surface. So the following will be based on my personal experience. So far I have been lucky and created only one "coaster". For those unfamiliar with the term, a "coaster" is the result of a CD burning attempt that for one reason or another failed. The partially written to CD media is now totally useless for anything other than a drink coaster. (I did find out recently from my wife that the shiny surface side also works well under 3 inch diameter decorative candles.)

Easy CD Creator comes with a wonderful Help file that has a lot of great information, but not in the form of a step-by-step explanation of what to do and what to expect while creating a CD. Easy CD Creator also comes with a Quick Reference Guide in PDF (Portable Document Format) but it gives the barest of information and basically refers you back to the Help file. Hence my reason for writing this article.

My computer system includes two physical hard drives. The first is Drive C which is 1 GB in size. The second physical drive is 8.4 GB and partitioned into 8 sections of approximately 1 GB each and labeled as Drives D through K. The CD-Recorder is Drive L and my original 4x (quad speed) CD-ROM drive of 1995 vintage is Drive Z. My first attempt at making a data CD was to copy from Drives I, J, and K data files I new were not replaceable. The CD burning went fine except for one problem. The data on the resulting CD was in alphabetical order and there was no way to tell which drive, specific data came from. I also ran into the age old problem of trying to determine exactly what is data and what is not. With some programs it is easy to determine what is data. If I save this Web Master Wanderings article as a text file, that is data. But what about my Netscape browser program? What do I consider data and how do I find the associated file names? I would want to save my Address Book, my Bookmarks, my E-mail messages. How about my Preferences? You see the whole thing gets messy. There is no way to easily define exactly what is information (data) to save. So with that in mind I decided to save everything. At least this once I could establish a baseline. How often I would want to save everything again in the future is a subjective matter. (For a more complete discussion on what is considered data and how to back it up checkout a ZDTV article on Backup Basics at,3650,2162034,00.html.)

There are Backup programs that save everything you select into one big file. But then you need the same program to see what is in that big file in order to restore a specific file. I wanted to be able to see the individual files and folders as read from my old CD-ROM drive. This would give me the highest degree of compatibility. Since my old CD-ROM drive does not read CD-RW (rewritable) discs I chose to use CD-R (recordable write once) discs. The CD-R discs said they were "1x-8x Compatible" so I would be well within that parameter by using the 4x (600 Kbytes/sec) write speed of my CD-Recorder.

Before even attempting to create a CD it is important to close everything running in the background on your computer. Creating a CD uses up a lot of resources and once the burning process starts it must continue through to completion. If the laser stops midway through recording because you ran out of buffer space, you have a brand new "coaster". Close whatever you can in the System Tray at the right side of your Task Bar by right clicking on its icon and selecting Exit or Disable. ScreenSavers and Antivirus programs are prime candidates to disable. Some people even suggest not moving your mouse during the recording phase. I always hit the "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" buttons simultaneously to bring up the "Close Program" dialog box. Then highlight each program still running and select "End Task". You should repeat this "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" routine for each program running until the only thing left is "Explorer" and "Systray". I also leave my 3-D scroll mouse program "3dmain" running and it has caused no problems. I have seen comments in the newsgroups alt.comp.periphs.cdr (news:alt.comp.periphs.cdr) and comp.publish.cdrom.hardware (news:comp.publish.cdrom.hardware) from people running 750 and 800 MHz machines saying they have no problem running other programs while creating CDs. That may be, but since I don't have a power house computer, I'll take the safe road and close everything I can.

Data CD Layout in Easy CD Creator

Upon opening Easy CD Creator the Wizard Welcome Window pops up. Cancel it. You should have the Data CD Layout tab selected and see a Windows Explorer type arrangement except there are four window panes. The two upper panes are basically Windows Explorer. The two lower panes will act like Windows Explorer and this is where you create your Data CD Layout by dragging files and folders from the upper right pane and dropping them in the lower left pane. It is important to remember that any changes you make in the lower panes in no way affect the files and folders in the upper panes. The data on your hard drive remains the same.

In the lower left pane you will see a CD icon with a number like 000707_1305. That number is meaningless and will change to a new number if you select "New CD Layout" from the dropdown menu under File at the top left. We will change that in a moment.

Some of my drive partitions do not have enough content to fill up 650 MB on one CD-R media disc. So I elected to put the content of two drive partitions on the same CD-R disc. The way to do this is to create a folder by right clicking in the lower left pane, selecting "New", and "Folder". Next right click on the "New Folder" and select "Rename". Now call it something meaningful. In my case I called it "J Drive [Clipart]". I did the same for my second folder and called it "K Drive [Web dl]". (The dl stands for downloads.} Now that we have our folders selected let's change the CD icon number to something meaningful. Right click on the number and select "Rename". I called mine "JK_BU_080300" where BU stands for backup and 080300 is the date August 3, 2000.

Next I highlighted my Drive J in the upper left pane which showed it's contents in the upper right pane. I then highlighted and dragged the files I wanted from the upper right pane and dropped them on to the Drive J folder in the lower left pane. I did the same for Drive K. As you drag and drop files Easy CD Creator shows you with a sliding scale along the bottom how close to the 650 MB limit you are getting. It even tells you in numbers your "Estimated Disc Free Space".

File Dropdown Menu and CD Layout Properties

Okay now that we have the new CD basically laid out, go to the top left and in the File dropdown menu select "CD_Layout Properties". Under the General tab you will see the "Volume Label" you have given your new CD. This is another place where you can change the name. The General tab verifies that the type of CD you are creating is a "Data CD". Under the Data Settings tab the "File System" should be "Joliet". Joliet is a standard created by Microsoft that works for Win95/98 and Win NT. Joliet supports long file names limited to 64 characters and is useful for backups to CD-R because the disc is still readable as ISO-9660 (another standard) which uses the 8+3 filename convention of MS-DOS. Thus the CD can be read in MS-DOS.

Click the "Properties" button next to the Joliet name and verify that "Use original file date" and "Mode 2: CDROMXA" is selected. "Mode 2: CD-ROM XA" means we are making a multisession CD-ROM. Thus we will be able to add additional data to the disc in another recording session at a later time if the disc is not filled in the first session.

Under "Optimization" on the Data Settings tab make sure "Preserve normal file ordering" and "Single data track only" have been selected. Under Additional options the "Automatically import previous session" box is also checked but will not affect us since this is a new CD we are creating. You can ignore the Audio Settings tab. Finally the File Types tab should have "Add all files" selected. Click OK to close the "CD_Layout Properties" window.

Next from the File dropdown menu select "Validate Layout". This is where you can get several dialog boxes if everything you have selected to copy to the CD is not proper. One that I got several times was "The file ( is in a directory that exceeds the maximum depth of directories (8). This may cause problems reading the CD in some operating systems. Do you wish to continue?" I pressed the "Yes" button. Later after the CD was written I tested it and found my old CD ROM drive had no problem reading the data. Another dialog box that popped up during validating the layout was "The following file must be renamed to be compatible with the naming conventions of your CD file system." It then gave the file location and file name with a suggested changed name which I could further modify. The dialog box then proceeded to say for valid names "File Names must be at most 64 characters long. The file name can use any characters valid in a windows long file name and can include multiple periods". I received this dialog box for files associated with long song titles in the Real Jukebox program and long URL titles in my "Favorites" list of Internet Explorer 5. Netscape does not have this problem as the "Favorites" (or "Bookmarks" as Netscape calls them) are saved as one file called "bookmark.htm". I had no problem with copying files from my Drives J and K as these programs were not on those drives.

We are now finished with the preparation, so now is a good time to save the CD Layout. We could have saved the layout earlier but then it would need to be resaved again now. From the File dropdown menu select "Save As..." and in the resulting Window select a hard drive location and appropriate name. For my Drives J and K layout I called it "DrivesJK3Aug00". The default location seems to be "My Documents" which is in the root directory of the C drive but you can save it to whatever location you like. The file will have a ".cl3" extension.

Next month we will go through what happens during the actual recording process.

Note: Web Master Wanderings articles contain links to external web sites. Web addresses are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the information links provided in this article will remain unbroken or up-to-date beyond the date that this article is originally published.