To format a disc, a blank CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disc is placed into a computer's optical drive. This prompts a pop-up window with disc formatting options. This disc is formatted to function either as a USB flash drive or for use in a CD/DVD player.
Disc formatting prepares a disc for data transfer. The process works differently on PC and Mac computer systems.
On PCs, discs that are formatted to work like a USB flash drive use the Live File System format. This allows the disc to be burnt multiple times and allows sequential files to be added to previously existing ones, as is possible with a flash drive. Conversely, discs that are formatted for use with a CD/DVD player are burnt once and fixed in a mastered format that cannot be changed or altered other than by destroying the physical disc.
An exception to the limitations of mastered formatting is use of this option with a re-writable disc. Similar to the USB option, re-writable discs can be burnt multiple times. However, previously loaded files must be erased before new files are burnt to the disc.
On Mac computers, inserting a blank disc triggers the same on-screen prompts. On this platform, however, the disc is automatically formatted once the option to burn files to the disc is selected. Additional formatting is not required.