Microsoft

Take advantage of Vista's Live File System optical disc format

In this issue of the Windows Vista Report, Greg Shultz describes how the Live File System works and shows how you can use it to your advantage for backups or additional storage.

If you have a CD or DVD burner on your Windows Vista system, you're going to want to take advantage of the operating system's new Live File System optical disc format. This format basically allows you to use an optical disc just like a floppy disk, adding individual files or groups of files to the disc incrementally over time.

In this issue of the Windows Vista Report, I'll describe how the Live File System works and show how you can use it to your advantage for backups or additional storage. (For my examples, I'll use a DVD-RW drive and CD-R optical discs.)

How the Live File System works

By default, Vista will format CDs and DVDs using the new Live File System. Although the biggest benefit of the Live File System is that it allows you to use an optical disc like a floppy disk, there a few exceptions to this similarity; these exceptions are dictated by the type of optical disc you use and by the other operating systems that you may use. The default version of the Live File System is only readable by Windows XP and Vista systems, and the Live File System works differently with the various types of optical discs.

For example, if you use a CD-R disc, you can only add files to the disc -- you can't actually delete them. More specifically, you can delete files from a CD-R disc, but in doing so, you don't free up space on the disc because the space once occupied by the deleted file is no longer available for further use. On the other hand, if you u

Don't miss a thing!

Delivered each Friday, TechRepublic's Windows Vista Report newsletter features tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista development, as well as a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

se a CD-RW disc, you will be able to add and delete files from the disc. (The same applies to DVD-R and DVD-RW disks.)

Using the Live File System

When you insert a blank optical disc into a CD-RW/DVD-RW drive in Vista, you'll see the AutoPlay dialog box (Figure A), where Vista assumes that you will be formatting a data disc. To continue, you can press [Enter] or select the Burn Files To Disc button.

Figure A

Figure A

The default option in the AutoPlay dialog box is set to format a data disc.
In the Burn A Disc dialog box, you can give the disc a name by filling in the Disc Title text box (Figure B). Click Next to continue.

Figure B

Figure B

You should assign the disc an appropriate name.
Vista will begin formatting the disc, and you'll see a dialog box containing a progress bar that will keep you apprised of the format operation (Figure C). In most cases, the format operation should only take a few moments.

Figure C

Figure C

Formatting a disc.
After you format the disc, you can open Computer to verify that the disc is now available and ready for use (Figure D). According to the details pane at the bottom of the window, although the disc is formatted as 702 MB, it only has 696 MB available for use. The special low level format operation reserves the remaining 6 MB for file management operations.

Figure D

Figure D

After you format the disc, you can open Computer and begin using it just like you would a floppy disk.
When you open the new disc, you'll see the Drag Files To This Folder To Add Them To The Disc message at the top of the file pane (Figure E). You can begin copying files to it just like you would a floppy disk or a USB flash drive.

Figure E

Figure E

The disc is ready for use as media storage.
When you copy files to an optical disc formatted with the Live File System, it will take a bit longer than copying files to other disks, like a floppy or a hard disk due to the extra overhead involved in implementing the Live File System file-by-file burn operation. To keep you apprised of the operation, you'll see a progress bar (Figure F).

Figure F

Figure F

You'll see a dialog box with a progress bar as a potentially longer copying time ensues.
When using an optical disc formatted with the Live File System, it will take a bit longer to eject the disc. In fact, when you open the disc drive drawer, you'll see the Preparing To Eject message appear in the Notification area (Figure G) as Vista closes the open burn session, essentially sealing the disc at the point where the end of the last file is located on the disc. The rest of the disc will remain usable for later copy operations.

Figure G

Figure G

When you eject an optical disc formatted with the Live File System, Vista will close the burn session.
Note: If Vista does not close the burn session properly, the disc will be unreadable. This problem can arise for a number of reasons, including defective discs, burner malfunction, or a timing issue caused by ejecting the disc too soon after a burn operation. For more information, see the Microsoft Help and Support article 930917.

When you insert the disc again, what you'll see will depend on what kind of files you have on the disc. For example, if you have text documents or executable files, a folder window will open, and you can get right to work. If you have other file types on the disc, such as graphics or photos, you'll see an AutoPlay dialog box, and you will have to respond accordingly. You can then copy other files to the disc or delete existing ones.

What do you think about Vista's new Live File System?

Have you used the Live File System for optical discs? If not, will you consider using it after reading this article? Share your thoughts in this article's discussion.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

38 comments
quick.blue
quick.blue

Thanks, Greg! Seemingly simple, but I'd missed the crucial formatting options step for setting the disc up to work on all players.

morbius7
morbius7

Can you copy audio data from a CD-R onto windows media player library? If not, are there other options? I haven't had any luck with this.

JDRedneck
JDRedneck

I think it is a piece of shit from the braindead microsoft idiots to prevent the use of 3rd party burning programs. How do you disable this fiasco or better yet uninstall it altogether.

billwestrup
billwestrup

A worthless feature and deliberately done by Microsoft to cause lots of compatibility headaches with other platforms. Windows users were better off without this... It's Outlook Express for CD's

yourweldguru
yourweldguru

Seems like MS complicated what's basically formatting a disk so it doesn't close it. As for Vista defaulting to format disk's that way, it seems to exacerbate what was already exacerbated.

kd937comp
kd937comp

After I close a session and eject a disk then put it back in, Vista always opens a new session on the disk automatically, showing only the remaining unused space and never showing the files that I had burned in the prior session. I'm using CD-R disks. kd937comp AT hotmail

chaoscreater
chaoscreater

how do i get the live file system for XP? I have Vista but my XP runs better cuz it's tweaked and Vista is too resource consuming so i dont wanna use my Vista, but the Live File System is so useful as i can use my discs that hasn't been filled up and the discs that i don't wanna use anymore, but how do i get this for XP?

dandeeny
dandeeny

1. Format a 4.7GB +RW DVD disc using Vista's live file system. Still within Vista drag a data file to it. Check disc space - plenty there. 2. Take this DVD to your XP equipped computer. Check available DVD disc space. Copied file is still there and readable BUT Disc is full. This situation applies no matter what situation exists, eg DLA (Roxio Record Now V7) on or off. Any fixes ? Dan

jamespatrickhunter
jamespatrickhunter

Thanks for the grammar lesson, indeed it is a very common mistake. For me the question that arises from all this is, would it be desirable to have a file system that can be read by any system? and does one already exist? However, my appraisal of the original article is this, very good. I welcome all new (to me) knowledge of operating systems. Ahem...minor point? it is currently The Queens English. Charles is still Prince of Wales.

wescrook
wescrook

Why use such a system when flash drives are cheaper, reusable, faster. I can hardly think of a reason to use this.

kirtb
kirtb

This is great for someone who can't afford an $8.00 usb flash disk; or maybe someone who wishes computing tasks took longer. No, seriously, it's pretty cool that the cd's can be read on other xp and vista systems without any additional software. I'm sure some will find it helpful, I just can't think of any occasions at this moment where I would do this instead of using a usb disk

acuggie
acuggie

Thank You for good and useful article

kaspencer
kaspencer

Surely all the features Greg described (and Greg, do you mind if tell you that one becomes 'appraised' of a situation, not 'apprised'?) have been available with Windows XP? In my view Windows Vista's handling of optical discs is less satisfactory that of Windows XP, especially with regard to DVD RAM discs, which Vista seems to wish perstently to scan or re-format. I think Microsoft must have fallen out with Roxio as I am sure the optical disc features have changed considerably between the two Windows versions.

kaspencer
kaspencer

Surely all the features Greg described (and Greg, do you mind if tell you that one becomes 'appraised' of a situation, not 'apprised'?) have been available with Windows XP? In my view Windows Vista's handling of optical discs is less satisfactory that of Windows XP, especially with regard to DVD RAM discs, which Vista seems to wish perstently to scan or re-format. I think Microsoft must have fallen out with Roxio as I am sure the optical disc features have changed considerably between the two Windows versions.

okn916
okn916

Sounds exactly the same as the Roxio 6 Easy Media Creator basic, the Roxio "Drag to Disk" application I had years ago that came free with my old computer, (this was way back in early 2000). You just had to drag any files you wanted burnt to disk to the small icon in the corner of the screen and that was it, delete operations were just as easy.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

[i]"I have Vista but my XP runs better cuz it's tweaked and Vista is too resource consuming "[/i] So why not tweak vista and make it run liek a top, I did. Just nix the stupid interfaces and Aeroglass BS, for grannies that download talking emoticons anyway. Vista has some great tweaking utlities and utilizes the Dual and Quad core processors better than XP by better resource aloocation that wasn't even though of when XP was written, even though the processors were hitting teh market at the same time. Vista has theta breadcrumbs navigation, a lot faster than ANYTHING XP does, etc. YOu have Vista you should have noticed the improved usability features, just optimize it, it will be better than XP with very little effort.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

While CD's can be damaged due to mishandling, they do have good aging characteristics and the system can be set to validate the copy, ensuring accurate storage. Thumb drives, are dodgy and unreliable storage at best, good for temporary storage but not as reliable as a CD or DVD. The Windows version is nice because it is not third party software, is supported by and receives updates with the operating system. If this had come out with previous Windows versions it would be the cats a$$, as it has Vista tagged to it, it is trendy to deny its validity; it clearly is a useful addition to the base OS.

vbpdhayes
vbpdhayes

thank goodness im not the only crazy person!

kskaronea
kskaronea

While most enterprise and SMB's should have a handle on workstation backups, I find smaller offices terrible at maintaining current backups (especially workstations.) This would be nice to drop a CD in and set up and incremental backup set for business level docs, reports and presentations (not everyone has a server store.) That way the CD just sits and takes the backup. The incrementals should be small so one CD could last a long time. Not a perfect nor infallible solution, but a handy use nonetheless.

mikerisner
mikerisner

What is the real benefit here? That you can use a disc instead of a USB flash drive, but with horrid performance overhead? I would think a $10 1GB flash drive would offer better performance and greater storage than a turtle-speed CD-R. Sorry, but I just don't see enough benefit here. But please enlighten me if I'm overlooking something...

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

apprise: to give notice to; inform; advise (often fol. by of): to be apprised of the death of an old friend.

mrgaijinsan
mrgaijinsan

CDs & DVDs burned with Vista's Live File System are unreadable on Macintosh and XP. Vista's Live File System is USELESS! worse than USELESS! get a thumb drive, and if you can't burn a REAL CD, reinstall XP, which WILL burn a REAL CD!

J. Smith
J. Smith

'Apprised' is the correct word.

Researcher75
Researcher75

Ever heard of "TYPOS" Kaspencer - I suppose you are telling us you NEVER make any! I for one, am grateful for Greg telling us about this facility, and I did not know about it in XP -SO THERE! Cheers - Roy

daniel3323
daniel3323

We may have drifted a bit from the Kings English here in the colonies, but I believe that "apprised" is, in fact the correct word to use in the context presented. "Appraised" relates to estimating the value of an object.

frank_s
frank_s

apprised, apprising 1. To give them information about it. Thesaurus: acquaint, brief, inform, tell, enlighten, notify, warn, tip off. Form: apprize someone of something (usually) Additionally, XP could record to CD's but needed 3rd party packet writing software to use CD-RW's like floppys and didn't do DVD's. Vista handles both without any third party software.

Alan Henderson
Alan Henderson

Drag to Disk and InCD were notoriously flaky. 2 or 3 discs I used with InCD suddenly became inaccessable. I gave up on it. I've read that it was a common problem with packet writing. Is this one any better?

c.deolde
c.deolde

Or Adaptec DirectCD or WinOnCD what-was-it-called? MS just made it sound catchy and new.

vbpdhayes
vbpdhayes

I too just dont see the benifit, why use an 8-track when you can use those new fangled high tech dolby "is it live or is it memorex" cassette tapes? ... sorry for the sarchasm, say goodnight CD's ... flash is the future, constantly getting faster, larger capacitys, smaller size, more secure and more reliable.

stuoutlaw1
stuoutlaw1

I have yet to have vista complete a format of a single cd or dvd it will say formatting then say connot complete format but the disc will be ruined for any other program and vista won't use it either. I have tried several different quality and brands none will be burned by vista just ruined. I have tried on two different versions at home (Enterprise and Business) and 5 different installs at work ( we have ultimate 32 and 64 bit versions on multiple machines none will burn cds without a third party burner program or by using the command line CD\DVDburn from M$ so I use third party software to burn disks there are many free very tiny downloadable ones out there like dvd decrypter for .iso's

FXEF
FXEF

Correct me if I'm wrong, but XP will only read disk created in Vista. XP will not create these disk.

kaspencer
kaspencer

1. Re.: "Appraise" versus "Apprise": I suppose it depends on which is the subject and which is the object ... 2. Windows XP can indeed write to CDs and to CDRWs without a need for any explicit formatting. It incorporates Roxio software - presumably some kind of packet-writing mechanism. I am of the opinion that XP managed CD writing better than Vista does. I have 7 different CD/DVD writers in active use on two variants of Vista, WinXP, Win2003 server and Win2000. Regarding DVDs: XP can write natively to DVDRAM discs, as can Win2003 server. BUT Windows Vista gets very confused over DVDRAMs and I do not consider it reliable. I agree that XP cannoit natively write DVDr or DVDRW, and if Vista is able to do that reliably then it has at least that advantage. Thanks Ken.

ananda_diasjayasinha
ananda_diasjayasinha

There are two types of DVD one the DVD-DAT and the newer Blue Ray format where you can use them as another hard drive. Write, read and delete at your pleasure and they are great.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

In my post about using InCD and the Windows Vista packet writer, I should have specified that the discussion applies only to CD-RWs. DVDs are quite another story. I just took a DVD-RW that had been formatted by Roxio and set Vista to format it. A quick format resulted, really quick, and the disc became completely usable in Vista. Whether this applies to other formats I don't yet, but I will probably find out.

ElijahKam
ElijahKam

I have good news and bad news. I have two computers, one has 64-bit Windows Vista Sp1, the other is 32-bit XP Pro Sp2. Nero 8 and 9 do not even offer InCD for 64-bit Vista so InCD cannot possibly be installed. Other bad news is that a disc formatted by InCD will not work on 64-bit Vista. The last bad news it that Vista refuses to format an InCd disc. The first good news it that a disc formatted on my Vista machine is accepted by my XP computer as it if were InCD; it works perfectly. If you have an InCD disc that won't work on Vista, and which Vista refuses to format, just use InCD ERASE on that disc to clear out the InCd formatting. Vista will then format the disc and you will be able to use the disc again in Vista. All of the above is based on actual testing on my two computers; the XP computer of course had InCD installed. I know that opinion is divided on the usefulness of packet writing, but if you want to do it in Vista, you probably have no choice but to use Vista's program. As for XP, I have had good experience with InCD, but in view of the above information, I will always format discs on the Vista machine so I can use them on either computer. I hope this information will be useful.

kaspencer
kaspencer

The behaviour which you described is due to the fact that you have installed InCD, which is Ahead Nero's packet writer. XP installs Roxio's CD writing software by default and you don't need (and shouldn't) install another packet writer. XP will be able to write to a blank CD/R or CD/RW withoiut formatting, as it formats as it goes. And XP can wite to a disc whether or not it has been written by Vista.

Researcher75
Researcher75

I have just put a blank CD in my CD/DVD-Writer drive and nothing happened. I looked at the drive properties and there two entries "InCD Format" - "InCD Erase" - I clicked on the Format option and the disk was formated just like a floppy and was then prepared ready for data transfer. The only "MUST DO" is to click on the 'Eject' option to discharge the CD, failing to do so will make the disk unusable!!!