Please, a practical explanation of filesystems and ways of burning CD/DVD's

I’ve been doing a lot of research but am getting really frustrated with the lack of plain language and practical uses for all the different file systems. Basically I’m wanting to back up files (mainly live music shows) to DVD. But I’m finding that discs burned on one computer sometimes can’t be read on another and vise versa. My goal is to make these discs able to be read by at least all XP machines. If someone could please help me with any of my following questions, or at least point me to a good guide explaining PRACTICAL uses for FAT16/32, NTFS, UDF, CDFS, ISO, Juliet and any others I’m bound to come across as options to use when burning.

  1. For instance, I just burned some music files (some very large ones) onto a Verbatim DVD-DL thru Nero, only to insert it into my other XP machine and not have it able to read it “Drive is not accessible”. I put it back into the computer that burned it and it could read it fine. “My Computer” labled the file system as CDFS. Is that what is best when burning data to DVD’s?? Why can one computer read it but not the other? Both computers have combo drives able to read and write everything.

2)I just found a DVD-RAM 4.7 disc that had been burned by a Win98se system, that I wanted to use. I put the disc into my laptop (same computer that was able to read the CDFS DVD9 above) and noticed that it was labeled as full, yet only showed one folder of music that was no more than 600mb’s!! Where are the other files taking up the remaining 4gigs??? File system for this disc was labeled as UDF. Then when I put the RAM disk into the desktop (same computer above that couldn’t read the CDFS DVD9) I get the message “Drive is not accessible”.

So I’m thinking there is some conflict of methods that these disk are being burned. I understand that the different filesytems have different ways of storing data, I just can’t figure out which is best for my needs, or what programs use what system.

Obviously reliability and compatibility is the most important. At least being able to be read by ALL XP machines.

Maybe there is a better program (like IMGBURN) that I should be using for data, where I have control over what filesystem it uses?

Also speaking of image’s, as far as I can tell, they are just a more secure way of making sure that the burn completes properly? But if I’m not having any burning issues (all my computers have plenty of memory and processing power) then an image isn’t really necessary? Or do images play a part in compatibility??

If people could help me out, add what they know, maybe I’ll make a little FAQ from this, so other people who aren’t as technical can get practical information of these obviously important options.


I am no expert like others that are on this site but If you use nero and goto nero express mode it is pretty easy to back up your data. You can choose to burn a data dvd, drag and drop your files into the window, and burn. I have done this countless times and the files read on different windows operating systems. note I am using xp sp2. hope using nero express helps.

You say live music shows, well

Are you physically shooting the shows and then wanting to backup it up, If so what are you using and what are the output formats of that device being used?


Are you backing up live music shows that or on dvd?


i did not go through all your post but generally speaking using IMGBurn i would recommend using the “ISO9660 + Joliet + UDF” as the file system if burning standard DATA discs.

cause if you use UDF only … for example the XBox running XBMC will not be able to read the discs at all if u got files on it over 1GB in size.

so if your using imgburn’s default settings (which are “ISO9660 + UDF”) and you try playing the disc on XBMC it will be able to see the files BUT the names will be cut off to like 8+3 (8 character file name with the 3character extention (i.e. .exe etc) … which sorta sucks but atleast the data can be read.

now if your using “ISO9660 + Joliet + UDF” (like i recommend) you will be able to read the disc perfectly fine but instead of getting shortened file names (which sucks) it will actually display the files names as you put them on the disc (so u could put something like “This is a good movie [XviD]” and it would display the entire name of the file.

but in general with the ISO9660 + Joliet stuff you got a maximum file size of 2GB per file otherwise you can only use UDF… so in other words to play video files for example on XBMC (XBox Media Center) you cannot have the video files bigger than 2GB for each file.

also in general if your making a dvd video disc… just stick with imgburns default settings (ISO9660 + UDF)

also if i recall correctly… using UDF im fairly sure operating systems like windows 98 etc cannot read these discs. so if you want those to be readable on those OS’s generally stick with ISO9660 + Joliet.

as far as NTFS vs FAT32 … to sum it up dont bother with FAT32 as it’s just flat out worse in the big picture than NTFS is… cause with FAT32 u got 32GB partition limits the last i knew etc etc etc.

bottom line = use NTFS on your PC’s hard drives.

also i noticed you said those DVD DL discs cant be read on some machines with windows xp… are those drives your trying to read the disc on fairly old? … cause alot of older dvd-rom drives in pc’s will most likely have problems for sure unless you adjust the bit setting to DVD-ROM (only can do this for DVD+R DL discs)

p.s. you can adjust the file system imgburn uses when it’s in “build mode” (which is what mode you need to have it in to burn standard data discs) then goto OPTIONS and you can adjust the file system it uses there.

ISO9660 is the original one that’s been around for years and has quite limited functionality.
For Example:
You’re limited to 8.3 characters for a file name (i.e. SOMEDOCU.TXT)
You’re limited to all uppercase file names.
You’re limited to file less than 4GB in size.

Joliet is an extension of ISO9660 and allows for longer / mixed case file names. The file size limit still applies. For Joliet to be used, ISO9660 must also be present - this is reflected in the options available.

UDF is a file system in it’s own right and does not depend on another one also being present.
UDF supports long / mixed case file names and does NOT have the 4GB file size limit of Joliet and ISO9660.
It is the ‘better’ option for those people using up-to-date operating system. I say ‘up-to-date’ because older ones like Windows 95 and 98 cannot read / understand the UDF file system and will probably report the disc as being corrupt if that’s the only one on it.

Standalone DVD players are only supposed to (made to) understand UDF. Being able to read ISO9660 / Joliet is optional. As such, if you’re building a DVD Video disc, you at least want to make sure the UDF filesystem is present in any image you’re building / burning.
A typical DVD Video disc you buy from a shop will use ‘ISO9660 + UDF’, so to be totally correct, that’s what you should use too. That way, a standalone player can read it (due to UDF) and PC’s with old operating systems can read it (due to ISO9660). A new operating system can read both but will favour UDF because it’s more advanced.

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