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How to format a DVD disk

Updated June 02, 2017

When you want to use a blank DVD or CD, the disc first needs to be formatted. In Windows Vista, there are two format types to choose from: live file system and mastered. A live file system is used when you want to keep the disc in your drive and save files one by one. This format allows you to use a DVD similar to a USB drive. A mastered disc is best for large backups or when you have many files that you want to save. Windows has a system that allows you to quickly format a DVD or a CD to use for file storage.

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  1. Insert a blank recordable DVD into the DVD drive. When you insert a blank DVD into the drive, Windows automatically prompts you with some options.

  2. Select "Burn files to disc." Another dialogue box appears with the two types of format options.

  3. Type a name for the DVD disk in the section labelled "Burn a disc." Use a friendly name for the DVD. This is the label for the drive that will show when you insert it into the computer.

  4. Click the "Show formatting option." This opens the list of format options. Choose the type of format you want for the DVD. If you use only Windows, the most convenient type to choose is the live file system. Click the "Next" file. Windows formats the DVD at this point.

  5. Test the disc by dragging and dropping a file to the DVD. You are now able to save files to the disk.

  6. Warning

    A live file system DVD will work only on Windows XP and higher. It is not guaranteed to work on Apple or Linux computers.

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Things You'll Need

  • Blank recordable DVD disc
  • Windows Vista or higher

About the Author


Lysis is the pen name for a former computer programmer and network administrator who now studies biochemistry and biology while ghostwriting for clients. She currently studies health, medicine and autoimmune disorders. Lysis is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in genetic engineering.

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