This guide will do 4 things (all in detail). It will:
1) Help you to achieve a successful & great burn.
2) Explain things that can affect the burning process.
3) Explain tests you can run to see where your problem(s) may lay.
4) Recommend certain hardware and software you can use to improve your chances of achieving a successful, great burn.
1) How to achieve a successful & great burn:
A) If possible, use Windows Vista or later.
B) Keep your Windows up-to-date.
C) Keep the software you're using to burn up-to-date.
If you're using a VSO program, try their latest beta version for your product.
Link for VSO programs: http://forums.vso-software.fr/internati ... h-f38.html
NOTE: ALWAYS do a fresh/clean install when updating to a new version.
D) Enable DMA mode on your controller(s).
For XP: http://forums.vso-software.fr/how-to-ch ... t2796.html
For Vista and newer: http://forums.vso-software.fr/how-to-ch ... t8013.html
E) Update your burner to the latest firmware.
The firmware for your burner is responsible for the compatibility with the media it should support, as well as the writing strategies for different media manufacturers. If you know what manufacturer makes your burner or if it came with your PC, you can check the manufacturer's support website. If you don't know what manufacturer makes your burner, you can check your VSO log or use programs such as VSO Inspector (free) or Nero DiscSpeed (free).
VSO's log files display burner information like this:
NEC in the example above represents the burner's manufacturer.04/10/2007 18:35:35 info New Drive selected : 1:0:0 - _NEC DVD_RW ND-2500A 1.06 [D] (Ide)
DVD_RW in the example above represents what type of burner you have.
ND-2500A in the example above represents the burner's model.
1.06 in the example above represents the burner's currently flashed firmware.
After you know the manufacturer, model, and currently flashed firmware for your burner, you can then use this site to check for the latest firmware: http://www.firmwarehq.com. If this site does not have your burner model, you can google for the latest firmware.
Example search: "[Burner manufacturer] [Model] firmware"
NOTE: Make sure you know EXACTLY what model you are looking for and what the currently flashed firmware is on the drive. For example: B005 is the correct update for the firmware B004, but not R005, even though that might be found for the same burner model on different sites. If you are confused, do not be afraid to ask for help from someone knowledgeable. Flashing an incorrect firmware can render your burner useless. BE CAREFUL!
F) Update your drivers, if possible. (See 4E below for recommendations)
G) Use the best media available.
Bad media have uneven or poor quality dye, resulting in bad burns. (See 4A below for recommendations)
HINT: If using DVD media, DVD+R is preferred over DVD-R. If DVD+R media doesn't work for your player, use DVD-R media.
GREAT media/GOOD media/AVOID:
- Taiyo Yuden
H) Use a good burner.
A good burner has better writing strategies, better quality lasers, and better burning chips which in turn gives you better burns, even with lower quality media. Avoid burners that come with the computer, they are usually of low quality. (See 4B below for recommendations)
I) Clean your burner's lens using a lens cleaner.
Dust can build on the lens, reducing its burning capacity. (See 4C below for recommendations)
NOTE: Advanced users can: A) Open the burner and manually dust it out using a small nylon paint brush (do not touch the lens), B) Use a can of compressed air to blow the dust out of the burner, C) Use a lens cleaner, or D) Use a combination of the 3.
J) I recommend burning on a fresh boot or after a reboot.
K) Close all unneeded software/programs running in the background.
HINT: You can check your taskbar for things running in the background. You do not need to turn off your antivirus program.
L) Defragment your hard drive before burning. (See 4D below for recommendations)
M) Burn at a slow speed.
Half the max speed is usually recommended, but I recommend no higher than 4x.
NOTE: Burning at fast speeds can affect burn quality negatively and create skipping/jittering during playback, even if your burn appears to be successful. If 4x speed isn't supported, pick a speed closest to it, whether it is slightly faster or slightly slower.
2) Things that can affect your burn:
A) Viruses and/or malware.
It's obvious that these can affect computer performance. Get rid of them or check if you have any with a good, reliable antivirus and/or antimalware program. (See 4F below for recommendations)
B) Bad media.
C) Out-of-date software. (See 1C above for VSO products)
D) Out-of-date burner firmware.
E) Out-of-date drivers.
F) A dying or not so good burner.
G) A lot of programs running in the background, as stated above.
H) A slow computer in general. (Weak CPU/processor, a dying hard drive, high CPU usage, high disk/IO usage, fragmented hard drive, little/no space on the hard drive, not enough RAM/memory)
I recommend at least 2 GB of RAM/memory for a 32-bit PC, and 4 GB for a 64-bit PC.
I) Loose cables inside your computer.
J) Dust build-up inside your computer.
K) A dying power supply inside your computer.
3) Tests you can run to find your problem(s):
A) Test your media (if it isn't in the great or good list, or even if it is).
Burn 3 copies of the same files onto 3 separate discs of the same kind from the same spindle. If they all burn successfully, your media is okay.
B) For those who want to know how well your burns went, there are programs for that.
Programs such as Nero DiscSpeed (free, but old) and Opti Drive Control (about $25 and more recent) can help you see that. When using either of these programs, ALWAYS scan/read at 4x speed. Your max PIE should be under 280, and your max PIF should be under 4. If it meets or exceeds any of these, you did not have a great burn and it may not be read properly by your player or PC.
NOTE: ALWAYS test it out to see if it works properly.
C) Test your burner.
Burn 3 copies of the same files onto 3 separate discs from 3 different manufacturers. If they all burn successfully, your burner is okay.
D) Test your computer/hard drive.
Burn a disc at at least 4x speed with your hard drive defragmented and little to no programs running in the background. Check your log for the actual average speed achieved during the burn. If it burns successfully and the average/max burn speed is within 0.5x the speed of what you set it to, your computer and hard drive are fast enough. If the average burn speed is more than 0.5x less than the speed you set it to, reduce the requested speed to a speed slightly under the average speed.
NOTE: Burn speeds may be different with different manufacturers and even the same spindle when requesting the same burn speeds. Great media are more consistent, while bad media vary from disc to disc.
E) If you are still having problems with burning after the 3 tests above, go through the things that can affect your burn list and narrow down your problem.
4) Recommended hardware and software:
I buy all my media at Newegg. Newegg can almost guarantee the best media for the brand you choose and the customers there are more tech savvy.
For any type of media: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... ageSize=20
NOTE: Choose the 'Type' beforehand to make your browsing easier.
CD/DVD Burners: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... ageSize=20
CD/DVD/Blu-Ray Burners: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... agesize=20
C) Lens Cleaner:
http://www.amazon.com/Endust-Electronic ... 45-7232935
D) Defragmenting/data organizing software:
- Norton Utilities (about $30). All-in-one computer tuneup software and has my personal favorite data organizing software, which I think is the best out there.
- IObit Smart Defrag (free). Very fast, easy to use interface, and straightforward.
- Auslogics Disk Defrag (free & paid versions). Very fast defragmenter.
- PerfectDisk (about $40). Very advanced with a lot of options, including scheduling.
E) Driver updating software:
- Driver Booster by IObit (about $23). The one I use personally because it's the best I've found. Very accurate and easy to use interface.
- Driver Magician (about $30). It's the 2nd best I've found. Very accurate as well.
- SlimDrivers by SlimWare (free). Free, although it's not as good as the 2 above.
F) Antivirus/Antimalware software:
- Bitdefender Internet Security (about $70, 1 year for 3 PCs). THE. BEST. AVAILABLE. PERIOD!
- G Data Internet Security (about $45, 1 year for 3 PCs). A close 2nd.
- Comodo Internet Security (free). Your best free option.
- Avast Free Antivirus (free). No bundled firewall.
- Emsisoft Anti-Malware (free & paid versions). THE. BEST. AVAILABLE. PERIOD!
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (free & paid versions). A close 2nd.
Whether you're using VSO products or not, burning video files or CDs, all of these tips will help with your burning.
Thanks for reading,