Can't do anything else while burning... why?

I just put in a new Pioneer DVR-108 into my system.

I’ve got three IDE devices:

120gig hard drive on primary IDE channel (set CS)

Toshiba SD-M1612 DVD-Rom (set as Slave) and the Pioneer DVR-108 [Firmware 1.18] (set as master) on the secondary IDE channel.

I’ve confirmed via device manager that all IDE devices are operating in Ultra DMA mode.

The burner does great going 12x on 8x -R media without a hitch. In addition, CPU utilization hovers around 4% (true whether I’m using Nero 6.6 or Alcohol 120).

However, if I try to open a web browser, or surf the net, the system goes into slow motion, read buffer on the burn software drops to zero, and then eventually the window comes up. Surf to another site (or click on a link), and the problem repeats.

I’ve got friends with much less powerful systems than I who can burn and do other activities on their systems without a problem.

Anyone have any idea why this is happening??



I can tell you exactly what’s happening.

If you’re burning at 12x, then you’re pumping about 15 Mbytes per second into the burner. The IDE interface on most motherboards, even good ones, can’t do more than one thing at a time. It doesn’t multiplex the way SCSI interfaces do (and I doubt your friends have SCSI, though they might).

Your 120Gbyte drive may be able to supply about 30 to 50 Mbytes per second, but NOT while the burner is drawing it’s 15Mbytes per second. While the burner is drawing data, your IDE can’t supply data. This is simply the nature of IDE controllers.

Right now a small chorus is chiming in from the fields saying, “But his burner is on the second channel”. Well, very few IDE controllers have the ability to operate both channels simultaneously, so it actually won’t matter (unless you happen to have one that can).

Now, if you’re loading up IE during the burn, IE hits a few dozen DLL’s, which involve directory lookup. Since you’re burning, your disc cache is probably busy, so they’ll be disc reads, not cache reads, at first. All of this starves the data pump trying to make it’s way to your burner.

If you load IE before you start the burn, you’ll have little trouble - depending on what you browse and the speed of your Internet connection. A high speed connection might bring in gobs of material that must be written to the local browser cache, which will interrupt your data throughput some - probably not enough to cause much trouble though.

On the other hand, some popular P2P download software uses a flush for every batch of data it receives, which churns the hard disk, and causes the drive heads to thrash around quite a lot. This will have more effect on the ability of the drive to provide data to the burn than raw reading of data. For this kind of problem, it helps to put the receive directory on another drive from that which provides data to the burn. That way, the “switch” between the various download chunks and the source of the data for the burn is electronic, rather than physical (movement of the HD head). Same goes for browser cache, the temporary files and maybe even the paging file.

Also, you’ll do better if your source material is on the inner region of a hard disc than the outer region. On HD’s, the outer region of the drive reads data nearly half the speed of the inner tracks. This fact can be used to place the paging file on a second (or third) drive, where it gets the most speed, and perhaps the source material for your burn (though not on the same drive, perhaps).

Some people think that once a program is loaded, disc action is over. That’s not true. In all 32 bit windows, executables are NOT loaded into RAM upon execution. They are mapped as virtual memory. Execution actually begins BEFORE the program is loaded into memory. It is a page fault (the natural and normal action of virtual memory) that causes a page of the executable to load into RAM.

I point this out because when you run applications, then let them sit dormant for a bit, the program code may be “flushed” from RAM - meaning that upon execution of that code once again, a page fault will cause a reload of that virtual memory space. Cache flushing is virtually gauranteed during a burn, because you’re doing to run through more data than any cache will hold.

To this end, you’ll have a better time using Firefox than IE for browsing while burning, because it’s smaller.

For that matter, any application that uses CPU power with little disc activity will probably cause the burn little hassle, while anything that hits the disc for significant data will interrupt the burn (and the burn will be interrupting that application, too).


I do not have the original poster’s problems, but I read your lengthy and explaining reply and I appreciate your time and effort in replying.


Thanks a million for your thorough and well thought out response. It gave me some clues that helped me solve the problem.

Your focus on channel saturation was the correct one. The image I was buring from was stored on my primary system hard drive. When I put the image on my secondary SATA drive and used that as the image to burn from, I am now able to use my computer normally while burning takes place.

Thanks again!


For what my opinion is worth, when I burn a disk I do nothing else with the computer. With my luck I would get a glitch in my DVD because I did activity on the computer during the burn.

I would suggest that you turn off all unneeded services through MSCONFIG and shut down applications, disable your screensaver, and disable power management during your burns, etc.

This may be overkill but it can’t hurt. Plus it’s too much hassle to watch, from start to finish, each two-hour movie that you back up looking to see if the burns were good. Messing with your computer during your burns might result in less-than-expected burn quality.

Hey Bob,

Thanks for your input.

BTW - How do you like Encore? I have only used Apple’s iDVD but find it somewhat limited.


Hey Guys! Cool!

It may be that you have an IDE controller and a seperate SATA controller. I haven’t seen many of these boards yet, but I suspect they may use two channels of the PCI interface, and as such might actually be giving you real multiplexing between reading and burning - quite a change.

Maybe I’m just lucky, I can shrink 2 movies while burning 1. CPU gets a little on the warm side though. This is with everything on IDE cables.

BTW - How do you like Encore? I have only used Apple’s iDVD but find it somewhat limited.

Sad to say, I have had the program for a year or so and I have yet to use it. It is typical of an Adobe product - steep learning curve and not very intuitive. I found Nero so easy to use that I have been using it to burn home videos to DVDs and SVCDs. The quality of my DVDs has been OK but I have been disappointed with the SVCDs. I may switch over to Tmpgenc for SVCDs. Plus, I will ultimately use my Adobe products for DVDs when I can find the time to learn the darn things.

You should definitely be able to surf around and run non-intensive apps while burning. I’m happily burning at 12x right now with 3 Firefox windows open along with other stuff running in the background and my drive buffer doesn’t drop below 89% according to Nero. This is on a less decked-out system than yours. OTOH, burning with DVD Decrypter is a lot more touchy about what else is running.

I would definitely try giving your burner its own IDE channel. It could be that VIA chipsets have the limitation that JVene mentions as far as only being able to utilize 1 IDE channel at a time, while nvidia chipsets do not. I’m very careful to have what I want to use while I’m burning already running and in memory when I click “Burn,” but other than that, I don’t worry too much. I’ve also noticed that if a program tries to swap paged virtual memory back into physical memory, that will often stress the hard disk too much to keep the drive buffer full, so you should keep the programs you intend to use while burning open and maximized.