CD Recordable (CD-R), CD Rewritable (CD-RW), and CD-Mount Rainier Writable (CD-MRW) drives—collectively called CD writers or CD burners—are CD-ROM drives with a difference: they have a more powerful LASER that, in addition to reading discs, can record (also called write or burn) data to special CD media. CD writers can be used for many purposes, including duplicating commercial data and music CDs, transferring large amounts of data to anyone who has a CD-ROM drive, and archiving or backing up data. The flexibility and low cost of CD writers, along with the low cost, reliability, and universal readability of the discs they produce, have made them one of the most popular PC peripherals. Any computer except perhaps an entry-level system should have a CD writer.
Throughout this chapter, we use CD-(M)RW to refer collectively to CD-RW and CD-MRW drives. If the type matters, we use CD-RW or CD-MRW explicitly.