Copy your files to a CD


Published: September 7, 2006

For many years, people relied on floppy disks for transferring and backing up files. Floppy disks are generally too small to store today's digital pictures and video, however, and new computers don't always include a floppy disk drive.

The modern replacement for the floppy disk is the CD. A CD can store 500 times more data than a floppy disk, and writable CDs are typically less expensive than floppy disks. To copy files to a CD, first set up your computer and purchase writable CDs. Then, use Microsoft Windows XP to copy the files.

Set up your computer to write to CDs

To write files to a CD, you need a writable CD drive (known as a CD-RW drive) and compatible media. Many computers include CD-RW drives. If yours does, the CD drive will have a "Compact Disc ReWritable" logo. If your computer does not have a writable CD drive, you can purchase and install an external CD-RW drive yourself.

Compact Disc ReWritable logo

Two types of writable CD media are available: CD-R and CD-RW. CD-R media tends to be less expensive, but you can only write to it once. CD-Rs are perfect for giving files to someone, because you don't need to ask for the disk back. By contrast, you can reuse a CD-RW disk by writing to it multiple times, just like you would a traditional floppy disk.

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Copy files to a CD

To copy files to a CD


Insert the writable CD into your computer.


In the CD Drive dialog box, click Open writable CD folder , and then click OK.

CD Drive dialog box


Windows XP displays an Explorer window showing the blank CD. Leave this window open, and open a new Explorer window containing the files you want to copy to the CD. For example, open My Documents by clicking Start, and then clicking My Documents.

Start menu with My Documents selected


Select the folders or files you want to copy to the CD. To select multiple files, hold down the CTRL key, and click each file. Right-click the selected files, and then click Copy.

Selecting the files to be copied


Switch back to the Explorer window showing the blank CD. Click the Edit menu, and then click Paste. Windows XP prepares the files to be written to the CD, but does not yet write them to the CD.

Pasting the selected files to the CD


Repeat steps 3-5 to add more files to the CD. Writable CDs can store about 700 megabytes (MB) of data. If you have more than 700 MB of data to write, you will need to use multiple CDs.


When you have added all the files you want to copy, click the File menu, and then click Write these files to the CD.

File menu with Write these files to CD selected


Windows XP opens the CD Writing Wizard. Type a name for the CD, and then click Next.

CD Writing Wizard welcome page


If the CD Writing Wizard begins copying files, skip to step 13.


If the Cannot Complete the CD Writing Wizard page appears, switch back to the Explorer window showing the blank CD. Delete some files to reduce the space below the 700-MB capacity of a writable CD. Deleting files from the CD does not remove your original files.

Cannot Complete the CD Writing Wizard page


Switch back to the CD Writing Wizard. Click Retry writing the files to the CD now, and then click Next.

Retry writing the files to CD now option selected


If the Cannot Complete the CD Writing Wizard page appears again, repeat steps 10-11 again.


The CD Writing Wizard copies the files to your CD, which might take as long as 30 minutes, depending on how many files you are copying.

CD Writing Wizard progress bar


After the wizard has copied the files to your CD, click Finish.

Completing the CD Writing Wizard page with Finish button selected

Your CD should automatically eject. Remove the CD from your computer and label it with a marker.

Labeling CD