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Rewriteable CD (CD-RW)
Recordable CDs (CD-R) moved beyond the read-only standard compact disk by allowing the writing of CDs by the average PC user. It however had its limitations as well, chiefly the fact that each disk can only be written once. A still newer technology, called rewriteable CD or CD-RW, ups the ante one more notch by allowing CDs to be both written and rewritten. Truly, at this stage, the use of the term "CD-ROM" becomes a bit questionable, since these disk are definitely not "read only"!
Note: CD-RW is also sometimes
referred to as erasable CD or CD-E.
The specifications for CD-RW are codified as part III of the "orange book" published by Philips. This document also defines the characteristics of CD-R drives (part II) and magneto-optical drives (part I). CD-RW uses much more advanced technology in order to accomplish its goal of making compact disks both writeable and rewriteable. There are therefore many issues related to operation of these drives, and also compatibility, that aren't applicable to most other CD formats. This section takes a basic look at CD-RW without getting too deep into the details.
Next: CD-RW Media and Encoding