Compact disc

Updated: 10/18/2022 by Computer Hope
Computer compact disc aka CD

Abbreviated as CD, a compact disc is a flat, round, optical storage medium invented by James Russell. The first CD was created at a Philips factory in Germany on August 17, 1982. The picture is an example of the bottom of a standard compact disc and is the side the disc player reads. The opposite side of the disc has a label to help indicate what is on the disc.

Tip

When referring to a round CD, DVD, or Blu-ray, it is known as a "disc" and not a "disk." When referring to magnetic media, like a floppy disk or hard disk drive, it is called a "disk" and not a "disc."

What is a CD used for in a computer?

As we mentioned above, compact discs store data to be retrieved or executed at a later date. CDs can store software programs to install onto your computer. They save files for backup or transfer to another computer and hold music to play in a CD player.

How much data does a CD hold?

The standard CD can hold 72 minutes of music or 650 MB of data. An 80 minute CD can hold 700 MB of data.

Note

If you're burning a CD with MP3 music audio files, the disc is a data disc and not an audio disc. In other words, a disc with MP3 files could store more than 80 minutes of music.

How to use or run a CD?

To use a CD on a computer, open the CD or DVD drive disc tray by pressing the drive's eject button. Place the CD in the drive's disc tray face up and press the eject button again to close the disc tray. Most computers autorun or autoplay a CD, displaying a window with options to use the CD or play music on the CD.

If your computer's CD or DVD drive has a disk slot instead of a tray, you need to insert the CD in the disc drive's slot. Place the edge of the CD in the slot, and then gently push the CD into the drive slot a little bit. The drive should grab the CD and pull it in the rest of the way.

If your computer does not autorun or autoplay the CD, open File Explorer on a Windows computer or Finder on a Mac computer. Locate the disc drive and double-click the drive icon to view the CD's contents.

What came before a CD?

There were several types of storage media released before a CD. However, the most common storage media used before the introduction of the CD was the 3.5" floppy diskette.

What came after a CD?

Several years after the CD was first introduced in the 1980s, there were other methods of storing and retrieving data. However, today's most common replacement for the CD is DVD and Blu-ray discs. For larger storage, jump drives are also a popular replacement for the CD.

How many times can a CD be played?

As long as the CD is stored properly, it can be played hundreds of thousands of times without losing any quality, wearing out, or not working. CDs that are not stored properly or that have defects may experience CD rot over time, which can prevent the disc from working years after they're purchased.

Do scratches on a CD prevent it from working?

Severe or deep scratches can cause a CD to skip or stop working. However, minor scratches that occur over the life of using a disc will not damage the disc.

Can CDs be damaged by heat?

A CD can be damaged by heat if it's stored in an area exceeding 200 degrees Fahrenheit or is stored in direct sunlight. If either of these situations were to occur the CD could warp and prevent it from being read.

Note

A burned CD (e.g, CD-R or CD-RW) can be damaged at lower temperatures and should also remain out of direct sunlight.

Can I store my CDs in my car?

Yes. As long as they're not in direct sunlight.

Audio CD, CD-R, CD-ROM, CD terms, Computer acronyms, External storage, Optical disc