Step-By-Step: Burn Your Own DVDs for Backup or Video Playback

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1. Plan the Drive Installation.

Unplug your PC and remove the cover. Since a DVD writer requires a continuous flow of data for creating discs, it should ideally be installed as the master drive on its own IDE channel. In most systems, your hard drive will be attached to the primary IDE channel, so you'll want to use the secondary IDE channel. Don't put your DVD burner on the same channel as a hard drive--the hard drive may slow down.

If you already have a CD-ROM or CD-R/RW drive connected to your secondary IDE channel and plan to keep it (not a bad idea for directly copying CD-ROMs), change that drive's jumper to "Slave."

Before you go any further, make sure the jumper on the DVD burner is set to "Master."

For more on this topic, see the September 2002 column "Get Maximum Speed From Your New Drives".

Photograph: Kevin Candland

2. Install the DVD Drive.

Find a free 5.25-inch bay in the front of your case. If your case requires special brackets for holding externally accessible drives, install those first. Slide the drive part of the way into the bay. If your secondary IDE channel already has a CD drive, you should find a spare connector on the wide data cable. If not, use the cable that came with the DVD writer. Make sure that the colored edge of the data cable is attached to pin 1 on the DVD drive.

Photograph: Rick Rizner

Attach a power connector to the DVD drive. If you can't find a free one, you'll need a Y-adapter, available at most PC stores.

In some cases, your DVD drive and sound card may require you to connect small analog and/or digital sound cables to the back of the drive. Check your manuals.

When all cables are connected, slide the drive fully into the bay. If your case doesn't use mounting brackets or rails, secure the drive with four screws.

Photograph: Rick Rizner

3. Install the Software.

Replace the cover on your PC, plug in the system, and turn it on. Versions of Windows above 98 should automatically detect and install the burner.

Insert the CD-ROM that came with your drive and follow the directions for installing the software packages (which vary by DVD maker). This may require several reboots.

4. Activate DMA Transfer for Maximum Performance.

In Windows 98 and Me, right-click My Computer, choose Properties, click the Device Manager tab, double-click first CD-ROM and then the name of the DVD drive. Click the Settings tab, check the DMA box, and click OK. Follow the on-screen directions. Then restart your PC.

Windows 2000 and XP usually are set up to activate DMA if the drive supports it. To check, right-click My Computer (on the desktop, or on the Start menu in XP) and choose Properties. Select the Hardware tab, click the Device Manager button, and double-click IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. Next, double-click the channel (usually Secondary) that the DVD drive is connected to, and click Advanced Settings. The Transfer Mode drop-down list should show DMA if available. If not, fix it.

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