Buffer Underrun Errors - How to waste CD-R's
When burning audio-cds it is absolutely
critical that the data-stream from the hard drive to the
CD-writer is as continuous as possible. The CD-writer has an
internal memory-buffer to compensate for small gaps, but if your
harddrive or your CPU is interrupted for to long, the CD-writer
will run out of data. Because the CD-writer cannot wait, this
will cause gaps and noise in the music, or in the worst case, it
will ruin the entire disc. Buffer Underrun errors are a common
problem when burning CDs.
The source of the problem
So, why is the CPU interrupted? Windows is a
multi-tasking operation system, meaning it can run many programs
simultaneously. The CPU, however, can only do one thing at a
time. To solve this problem, Windows divides the CPU-time into
small slices and gives each running program a short period of
time to execute, before the CPU is handed over to the next
program. The more programs you run, the smaller each time-slice
gets. If the slices are to small, there may not be enough time
for the burning-software to fill the buffer on the CD-writer.
What about the hard drive? Just like the CPU,
the hard drive cannot read everything at the same time. If, for
example, some antivirus software or a screensaver starts in the
middle of your cd-burning-session, the hard drive may get
occupied with other things and stop reading CD-data.
What can you do to prevent "buffer underrun
errors"? There are a few things you should always do before
1. Reboot the computer before you begin to make
sure the operating system is completely stable (You never know
after running a few games).
2. Terminate all programs but the cd-burning-software.
Of course you need WinTasks to be able to stop all the invisible
background processes. If you are using
WinTasks 5 you only have to do this once, since it is now
possible to save the currently running processes and their
priorities to a preset. To restore the optimal cd-burning
process configuration later, you can simply click the preset
3. Don't use your CD-writers maximum burnings
speed if you have get any gaps or jumps in the music. If your
writer can burn at 4x use 2x, if can handle 8x use 4x and so on.
This way, the CPU will only have to send half as much data to
keep the buffer full. Making the whole process less sensitive to
4. Try increasing the priority of the
CD-burning software. You may have to try a few different
settings before you find the optimal priorities for your system.
Use WinTasks to change the priorities, and again, I recommend
creating preset in WinTasks for the optimal settings once you
have figured them out. You should not modify the priorities of
the system processes (red), and use the built-in decriptions to
find out if what a processes does. (WinTasks 4 have built-in
decriptions for most system processes, and many other processes
5. Always cache to harddrive before burning.
(This is usually an option in your burning-software)
Written by Emil Malmberg, Senior Software