Format rewritable CD/DVD discs and erase files and folders

Format rewritable CD/DVD discs and erase files and folders – CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM discs in Windows XP/Vista/7/8.1/10

CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, or DVD-RAM discs are rewritable, allowing the deletion of one or all of the files and folders on the disc.

The number of times that CD-RW and DVD-RW/DVD+RW discs can be rewritten depends upon the disc itself. The higher quality discs will have a longer life than lower quality discs. It also depends on the care that is taken with the disc. Some disc manufacturers state that their CD-RW discs can be rewritten up to 1,000 times.

It is estimated that a DVD-RW or DVD+RW discs can also be rewritten approximately 1,000 times and a DVD-RAM disc a huge 100,000 times.

Windows XP Home or Professional Editions cannot format CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW or DVD-RAM discs. Windows XP can burn data and music to a CD-R (record-once-only) and CD-RW discs without problems. Formatting is required if you want to use a CD-RW disc the same way as a floppy disk, that is, add or remove files. Both a hard drive and a floppy disk have to be formatted. A file system is required to locate the files. Also note that XP does not support the burning of ISO files, usually used to create boot discs.

Microsoft: “The CD-RW recording feature that is built in to the Windows XP shell does not support the creation of an International Standards Organization (ISO) image. To create an ISO image in Windows XP, you need to install a third party utility that supports this feature.” –

Description of CD-R and CD-RW recording in Windows XP –…

Note that third-party software is required for DVD-burning in Windows XP, but it can read DVD discs. Windows Vista and Windows 7 provide DVD support, but Windows 8.0/8.1 does not. Third-party software will have to be used.

“The Windows DVD Player app is available free for a limited time for people upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center. – Please note that Windows Media Center isn’t included in Windows 10 and will be removed when you upgrade to Windows 10. After the upgrade completes, Windows DVD Player will download automatically to your PC.”

DVD playback options for Windows [7/8.1/10] –

Windows 10 DVD support –

“I was part of the upgrade from 8.1 to 10 and still can’t find DVD player that was a free update. Can anyone share a link that will download this update – KB308170?…

Unfortunately, the CD-writing software that is part of Windows XP only supports the creation of read-only files. You have to edit the data file or image on the hard drive with a word-processing/photo-editing application and then save the changed copy to the disc. Very probably Microsoft did not want to muscle in on too many areas of software development in order to give third-party developers a chance.

You can write data to CD-RW and DVD-RW/DVD+RW discs without having to format them. You just burn the files to them using your disc-burning software as you would to a CD-R or DVD-R/DVD+R disc. (Windows XP can burn to CDs and Windows Vista and Windows 7 provide inbuilt DVD-burning software.)

In Windows XP, to erase files from a CD rewritable (CD-RW) disc, place the disc in the optical CD/DVD drive and click Start => My Computer, right-click on the entry for the CD/DVD writer, and click Open. The folders and files on the disc will be displayed. In the CD Writing Tasks pane, click Erase this CD-RW. The Welcome to the CD Writing Wizard window is displayed. Click its Next button. The Erasing the CD window is displayed and the progress bar shows the progress of the deletions. A message is displayed in the Notification Area when the process is finished, after which you can reuse the CD-RW disc. Note that if the CD/DVD disc is not erasable (the disc is a record-once or read-only CD/DVD ROM disc) this feature is not available.

I have used a CD-RW disc as the example, but the following process applies to all of the types of rewritable discs – CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW and DVD-RAM.

If you edit a file that has previously been saved to a CD-RW disc and then re-burn it to the disc, the software will ask you if you want the original file replaced. If you do, it renders the previous copy inaccessible and saves the new copy. The previous copy is still on the disc taking up space, but only the new version can be accessed. However, with re-recordable (RW) CD and DVD (-RW/+RW) discs, you can erase the all of the files and thereby create a blank disc that can be reused up to 1,000 times.

If you want to use a CD-RW (or DVD-RW/DVD+RW/DVD-RAM disc) in the same way as you would use a floppy disk (add or remove files), you have to format it by using a disc-burning program. Windows 7 provides CD/DVD disc-burning software, but there are many excellent free third-party tools, such as CDBurnerXP Pro from The program provides a useful online Help facility and user forum.

It is free and very easy to use. (Choose Data disc, browse to the files that you want to burn, select them (Edit => Select all) and use the Add button to add them to the lower file-burning window and click Burn.) You should choose the UDF file system, not an ISO option. It formats the rewritable CD or DVD disc before writing to it and when you use its Erase disc feature, the data already on the disc is erased and the disc is re-formatted.

FAQ – Q: Can I format my disc as UDF with CDBurnerXP?

A: As of version 4.0, you can.

CDBurnerXP – “CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilanguage interface. Everyone, even companies, can use it for free. It does not include adware or similar malicious components.” –

You cannot erase selective (individual) files from a rewritable CD/DVD in Windows XP itself. The only way to do that is to copy the files and/or folders back to the computer’s hard disk drive, erase the files that you don’t want, erase the contents of the disc and re-burn.

However, note that Windows Vista and Windows 7 allow a user to erase all of the files on a rewritable disk – or just selected files. With CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, or DVD-RAM discs, if you use the Live File System file format, you can delete one or more files to make more room on the disc. Read the following information on Vista/Win7.

Burn a CD or DVD [Vista] –

Burn a CD or DVD in Windows Explorer [Windows 7] –

About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.