There should be an image here!Q: I’m having problems with DVDs that I burned for my church not working on other players. I’ve been told that it’s the brand of blank disks I’m using, the speed at which I’m burning them, etc. I’m confused! Please help if you can! — Gary

A: The first thing to understand is that burning DVDs for use by others is nothing like burning CDs for others.

It’s very common to create DVDs on a computer that can’t be read by traditional playback only DVDs because the process used to burn disks on your computer and the commercial DVD creation process are quite different.

Computer-based DVD burners change the reflective surface of writeable DVDs, which can create large variances in the finished product. A slight variance in how a laser bounces its light off of the disk can make all the difference in both burning and playing the disk back.

Commercial DVDs are ‘pressed’ for much tighter tolerances instead of ‘burned,’ which is why they generally play back on just about any player.

Although there are implied standards for recording DVDs, they can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer for both the burning and playback sides, which is why a DVD that you create will be readable by some players and not by others.

In addition, there are a myriad of recording formats including DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM.

The first thing you want to make sure of is that the blank DVDs are a format that’s supported by your DVD burner.

Not all DVD burners can write to all of the above formats and the same holds true when you try to play the disks back, especially on an older DVD player.

You can try experimenting with any of the formats that your burner supports to see which one seems to be most compatible with your audience (but don’t expect 100% compatibility if you have a large number of users trying to read your DVDs).

As far as the brand of disks making a difference, as long as you stick to a name brand disk, it shouldn’t matter whose you use as long as the recording format matches your burner’s capability.

As far as the burning speed, the general rule of thumb is that the slower you burn, the more likely it can be read by a larger number of playback systems.

Even though your burner is capable of burning at 48X, you may want to notch it way down (possibly down to 2X if you have a lot of folks with older DVD players).

Another possible cause of ‘write errors’ can come from using the computer for another task while it is burning a DVD. The best way to burn DVDs (especially on older computers) is to reboot to replenish all the resources and then go directly into the burning software and do nothing else until it is finished.

If your computer takes forever to start up, you likely have a number of resource-eating programs loading or possibly hidden malware that won’t allow your burner software to run smoothly.

You may also have dust bunnies that have built up inside the drive that are altering the burn process (open the drive door and blow it out with canned air), and the same could be true for those that can’t play your DVDs.

My question to you is, in this Internet-connected streaming video world we all live in today, why not set up a YouTube channel for your church and bypass this ongoing, unsolvable mess (it’s both free and easy)?

Not only will you save money on blank DVDs, but it’s a faster way to get the video to a large number of people, it avoids the compatibility issues, and might connect you with additional parishioners that like the message in your videos!

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to CNN.com
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show