Written by Barry Dysert (last updated June 5, 2017)
CDs, or "Compact Discs," are used for audio and data storage. When formatted for audio, a CD will hold about 80 minutes worth of audio. For data storage, a CD's capacity is roughly 700 MB. While they used to be a mainstay for data storage, their relatively small capacity (compared with today's hard disks and flash drives) have seen CDs fall out of favor somewhat. Since they are still used, though, for data storage and software distribution, it's good to know what types of CDs are available.
The compact disc used for audio was originally typed as CD-DA (Compact Disc, Digital Audio), but it soon gave way to the more versatile CD-ROM (Compact Disk, Read-Only Memory). Neither of these types of discs can be written to, so other types of CDs soon found their way to market. Among these is the CD-R, which is a "write-once/read many" type of CD. These have typically been used for data archival or to "burn" an audio CD. The evolution of CDs continued to the point where we now have discs that can be rewritten many times (CD-RW).
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