Once More Into The Fire

Hybrid CDs

So far, we’ve only written discs that either use ISO9960 format to be cross platform compatible (in other words, it runs on both Macs and PCs), or we’ve leveraged the strengths of a file system specific to a singular platform, and sacrificed the cross platform compatibility in the process. So is there a way to write a disc that can have the best of both worlds? The answer is yes! You can create a Hybrid CD that has both an ISO9660 file system, which can be read on PCs and Unix systems, and has a HFS file system, which is used under the Mac. In this manner, Mac users would be able to enjoy long filenames while PC users would still be able to read the disc.

Unfortunately, to create a hybrid CD, you will need a SCSI hard drive with a HFS file system. Thus, for most casual users, Hybrid CDs are not an option, unless you are working on a Mac. But assuming that you have the necessary equipment, here is what you need to do:

  • From File – New, choose the CD-ROM(Hybrid) option from the left hand side.
  • In the right hand side is a box that lists all of your HFS partitions. If the box is empty, that means you don’t have any.
  • Choose the HFS partition you need, and click on New.
  • From here, drag and drop the files you need and after you are done, proceed to finish burning the disc.

A few things to note about the hybrid CD. First, Nero will only write none shared hybrid CDs. What that means is that every file that needs to be visible on both file systems(PC and Mac) must be written twice, once in HFS and once in ISO. Also, the amount of space available to you for writing is less than 650 MB because the file system itself must take space to implement. You have approximately 640MB available on a Hybrid CD. Just keep these two points in mind, and you are ready to go.


Overburning refers to the idea of squeezing more than 650MB of data onto a CD. The advantages to overburning are numerous. For one, you can store more stuff on the CD, which makes it handy for copying games and other programs which are bigger than 650 MB. An overburned CD can store up to 79 minutes. The typical extended time is about 2 minutes though. Overburning is also a great trick to create a CD that can’t be copied, at least not by novices.

But as the old saying goes, nothing is for free. Overburning is no different. There are also an equal number of disadvantages to overburning. The most common problem is that the data stored beyond the normal capacity is not readable. On an audio CD, the situation could range from scratchy noises to the track not being readable at all. On a data CD, the situation ranges from long, repeated reads to unreadable data. A second problem that could occur is an error message like Write emergency or track following error. Thus, if you are writing in disc at once mode, then you are screwed. The last problem is that it may damage some CDR drives, although the situation is very rare. Also note that not all CDR drives support overburning. You must check with your manufacturer to make sure that it is supported.

If after considering the pros and cons, you decided to write an oversized disc anyway, here is how:

  • In Nero, click on File – Preferences,
  • Go into the Expert Features Tab.
  • Click on OK and start compiling your CD.

Note that there is no surefire way to determine the largest oversize burn possible. You will have to experiment with different settings. I’d suggest running a burn in test mode first to see just how big it can get.

A Few Tips

Before I conclude this article, here are a few tips for successful burning:

  • Disable Screensaver. These can cause problems and ruin a disc.
  • Along the same lines, turn off monitor auto shutoff.
  • Disable all background programs if possible.
  • Disable Auto insert notification.
  • Delete useless files. You need some space to copy and burn the files.
  • Defragment your hard drive if it is slowing down.


The world of CD writing has changed dramatically from the when the first CD writers hit the market. Back in those days, it was a pain, and coasters were surely a part of every burning experience. But today, things are drastically different. CD writing has never been easier. Aided by countless wizards and programs that are smarter and a lot more error resistant, truly anyone can use a CDR drive effectively. But to become a master at the art of CD writing (a title which I myself cannot yet claim with a clear conscience), a lot of practice and dedication is still needed. It is my hope that the two part CD writing guides I’ve authored have aided you in the pursuit of that goal. If you have any questions or suggestions on how this article can be improved, feel free to drop me a line at xinli1@uiuc.edu

– Xin Li –

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