From the Kenosha News on 3-13-05

Backing up your files to CD

      The instructions in this column explain how to copy files from your hard drive to a CD in Windows XP.  The ability to write files to CD (i.e. "burn CDs") is built in to Windows XP.  If you have an earlier version of Windows, you'll need separate CD writing software such as Easy CD Creator; follow the instructions provided with it.  Of course, you need a CD-RW (rewritable) drive, which most newer computers have.

      Since Windows XP manages the CD writing process, it's the same on all XP computers.  Make sure you know where your important files are.  While most should be in "My Documents," be sure you know if there are others.  I'll use My Documents as the example.  If you have other folders to back up, follow the instructions below for each.

      First, put a blank CD-R into your CD-RW drive.  If a dialog box pops up, asking what application to use, select "Take No Action" and click OK.  There are two different types of writable CDs:  CD-Rs and CD-RWs.  CD-RWs are meant to be re-usable, but I recommend CD-Rs for several reasons:  1) Once written, a CD-R is more readily recognized in other computers; a CD-RW may only be readable in the drive that created it.  2) CD-Rs are cheaper, so unless you plan to re-use it many times, a CD-RW will cost more.  3) Even a CD-R can be used multiple times if you are adding data each time and the CD is not full. One blank CD fits about 650-700Mb of data.  Most likely, a single backup won't fill a whole CD, so you can re-use CD as long as you have enough space.  

      Next, open your My Documents folder.  Click on the Edit menu and drag to Select All.  All the items in the folder will now be highlighted.  Then click the File menu and drag to Send to and then CD drive.  Your CD drive may be called something slightly different, like CD-RW or DVD-RW.  It should have its drive letter (D: or E:, for example) after it.  A small dialog box will appear and show you the progress as the files are copied to the CD.  If you get an error message about a file named "thumbs", click Skip.

      Finally, once the copy process is finished, double-click My Computer and then double-click the icon for your CD drive.  When the window opens, you'll see the items you copied, but they'll appear with an arrow pointing down on each.  This indicates that they are not yet actually written to the CD.  Click on the File menu and drag to Write files to CD.  This will invoke a wizard to finish the project.  If you are trying to copy too much data, you will be notified and have the chance to eliminate some folders.  Save those later to a separate CD.  When the wizard is finished, click the Finish button.  The CD will be ejected.  Label it with the date and what it contains, only writing on the labeled side and not the plain, shiny side.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 3-13-05