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How to Burn Data Across Multiple DVD or CD Discs

Burning spanned discs header

If you have a large amount of data you wish to burn to disc and it won’t fit on a single DVD or CD, you can make the process easier by using burning software that supports disc spanning. Here’s how to do it.

Disc spanning allows you to burn large amounts of data without having to worry about organizing it into the right size so that it fits on each disc. Many popular disc burning applications don’t support disc spanning, but CDBurnerXP does, and it’s completely free. Now you can backup any amount of files such your iTunes library, photos and movies easily across multiple with ease. The software automatically figures it out for you.

Burning Data to Spanning Discs

First, you’ll want to grab CDBurnerXP from here, then open the software and select “Data Disc”.

Data disc option

Next, drag and drop the files you wish to burn over to the CDBurnerXP window.

Drag files

Once the files are added, click “Burn”.

Burn button

Choose whether you want to leave the disc open or finalize the disc once it’s burned, and select “Disc spanning”.

Disc spanning button

Choose the type of disc you are using on the “Disc size” drop-down menu, the click “Split”.

Split button

The software figures out how many discs are required to complete the process. Place a writable disc in the drive and click “Burn”.

Burn and ISO buttons

Click “Burn disc” to start creating the discs.

Burn disc button

CDBurnerXP will prompt you to insert another disc once the previous disc is finished.

Insert another disc

That’s all there is to it.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/5/11

Comments (20)

  1. Joe

    I need to back up 2TB in DVD’s. Is there any way to compress the 2TB so I don’t have to use 465 DVD’s?

  2. MJ

    @Joe In your case I’d go for external hard disk drives. Another option is to use internal hard disk drives (which are cheaper) with a SATA to USB adapter.

  3. Matt

    Well first you could use dual layer DVD’s and cut that number in half. OR get an external hard drive for a backup that big. Why do you need to use DVD’s? Otherwise get a blu-ray burner. Those are 25 GB capacity single layer or 50 GB dual layer. That would only be 40 BR-D. I think the cheapest way to go is external HD.

  4. Redfly1st

    @ Joe : Use seven zip to compress your date before burning. it is a open source tool, meaning it’s free and does the job well!

  5. Jeff

    I am wondering how it splits the data up. Is the data accessible directly from the DVD’s or does it split a file between DVD’s if it doesn’t all fit? I am thinking of pictures mainly. My sister-in-law has a bunch of photo’s that I have backed up on another drive and I’d like to burn them to DVD, but I don’t want to have to do all the work of how many pictures will fit on a DVD, but that, then group another bunch to burn. I just want to say burn all these to DVD’s and have them burned to as many DVD’s as it takes and make them all easily accessible from the DVD’s.

  6. Jacob

    Does anyone know of a Linux utility that can do disc spanning?

  7. liz

    Very interesting, I have been copying a lot of old videos to my computer and a three hour tape can end up been 5 to 7Gig, which sucks to try and burn to disk, double layer disks can get rather expensive and then you have the issue of the left over space on a double layer disk, I hate wasting space.
    I’m just wondering if this is going to work for a single file, if not any ideas people on how to split a mpeg file in half.

  8. Vivek

    I just wanted to know, how to read the files again, whenever it is needed…??? if a contiunes large file is split and write to 2discs????

  9. Rdubz

    @Liz – Try converting/compressing the video to a different format? Do you require it in mpeg? If not, convert to Divx, X.264 or something of the like. This can turn a 5-7 gig movie down to 700mb-2gb.
    Look at options like Handbrake, its open-source, free, and does a great job of ripping movies.

  10. Dark

    Can this software work for games?

  11. Andre

    @Dark

    AFAIK It only works if you want to move your files.
    An install would only work if there is a feature to pause the installer and prompt for the second disk
    Running the actual game off of multiple discs is impossible unless if the game is split into parts (like in parts of a storyline)

  12. Ushindi

    Got it – thank you very much. I’ve been wishing for something simple like this.

  13. Mitch

    In the step where you choose the media, you can select to use as few discs as possible or don’t split contents. The software also supports Blu-Ray.

  14. Henry

    (@Andre)
    Could I then create a tool that would like hack the installer so I could insert a pause/prompt when it’s time to change discs?

    Granted it would take some time I was thinking something like Innounp to decrypt/unpack the installer then use Inno Setup which supports disk spanning itself. Combined into more of an automated repackaging tool.

  15. Vic

    If I download the Windows Developer Preview .iso file that contains the developer tools (and requires a large capacity DVD called a DVD-9, as well as a DVD burner that can handle dual-layer (DL) DVDs), could I then burn/span the .iso to a series of 4.7GB DVDs which would then be used to install Windows Developer Preview?
    Would the first one in the series be bootable?
    How would the installation process know when to prompt for each successive disc?

  16. Henry

    @Vic
    couldn’t you just download the standard x64 version and then download all the developer tools

    it wouldn’t work
    unless you went through and figured out the exact difference between the regular iso and the dev tool iso and modified some code

  17. Fluvial100

    This sucks. Crashed pc and dvd rw went to the trash. Bad choice.

  18. artie

    @Liz…ran into the same situation transferring VHS to DVD….I had the most success with Wondershare Video To DVD Burner
    Easy, intuitive interface, once you’ve placed a film(s) in the timeline…you can select how much video you want on any given disk

  19. Dave

    Beware of installations that include OpenCandy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCandy), and adware program.

  20. Dave

    Beware of CD Burner XP installations that include OpenCandy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCandy), an adware program. When I found out that was included I uninstalled it and installed the Open Source ImgBurn. I can’t see a way to span disks with large amounts of data on ImgBurn, though. I think “free” programs that include hidden adware should be shunned, though.

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