10.7. Erasing CDs
Here's where the difference between CD-Rs and CD-RW really becomes noticeable (see Section 10.3 for a refresher on the difference between these two formats). Windows XP treats a CD-RW disc just like a folder or hard drive. When you delete files from it, the files disappear, and you can add more files to fill up that freshly revealed space.
When it comes to CD-Rs, however, you can't erase them, at least not in the normal sense. When you right-click a CD-R and choose Delete, Windows tells you it contains Read-Only files that can't be deleted. The confusing part is that Windows XP says you can replace any of the files by writing another identically named file to the CD. That sounds handy, as you could update a file by writing it to the same CD, constantly overwriting the older version. In actuality, though, Windows doesn't erase the earlier files; their carcasses remain on the CD, taking up space.
Therefore, if you want a CD you can write to and repeatedly erase, a CD-RW is the only way to go. If your PC is less than five years old, it can probably handle CD-RW discs. Look for the word "Rewritable" on the drive's front panel for a sure clue. But sometimes the only way to verify that your drive can handle CD-RW discs is to test it: save some files to a CD-RW disc, and then try to delete them.
Follow these steps to delete files from a CD-RW disc:
That empties the CD-RW disc, letting you fill it up with more goodies . If you don't see the words "Erase this CD-RW" in the Writing Tasks pane, though, your drive can't handle the CD-RW format.