Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

If you can't burn to a blank DVD, you'll need to narrow down exactly what's causing the problem. The failure may be in the media or the drive.

Hi, Leo. I had to burn an ISO file to a DVD. For this purpose, I used this article, "Would you show me how to burn ISO files?" as the guideline. However, I keep running into a problem. After I'm done with selecting the required file as a source, the status bar says that the disc isn't empty and therefore the write button never enables. But I don't see any contents in the DVD when I view it through Windows Explorer. What do I do?

In this excerpt from Answercast #75, I look at a case where a DVD drive is not recognizing a blank DVD and work through several troubleshooting steps.

Can't burn to blank DVD

Well, unfortunately, if you're not seeing any contents on the DVD when you're looking at it, it still may not be blank.

There are actually two possibilities here. One is the disc itself is actually not blank. Even an empty disc that has had a file system written to it is technically not blank. So by that measure, it may be that you need to get a brand new blank DVD and insert it into the drive.

It's sometimes a matter of quality and that's the other part of this. Sometimes, some DVD drives will not recognize some DVD media as being blank when they are. That's a matter of the drive not working properly.

Yes, this could be a drive problem. It's more simple to fix, of course, if it's a "quality of media" problem.

Testing to find what's broken

What I would do is first confirm that you've been inserting a truly blank DVD into the drive. Then go out and get a different brand, potentially a higher quality brand of DVDs. You don't have to get many. We're just doing a test here. See if that solves the problem; it may.

If it doesn't, then I'm afraid you're probably looking at some kind of an issue with the drive itself.

At that point, I would recommend giving this a quick try on another computer with the DVDs that you've been using (the blank DVDs that you have) and make sure that they will work somewhere. That will at least help narrow down the problem.

Article C6090 - December 1, 2012 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

December 4, 2012 9:08 AM

I too have experienced that problem with previously used disks. My solution was to format the disk. That has solved the problem. Of course the original problem might arise when the disk is a
+/- R disk!

J. Servis
December 4, 2012 3:57 PM

If those disks have worked before, and now they don't it's a software setting or hardware issue.
To narrow it down, try, like Leo suggested, to use it on another machine with the same program & disk(s).
If no go, try different disk(s).
If still no go, it's most likely your disk(s).
If it works with said disks on another machine, than it's a setting or drive issue.
Proceed accordingly. It's a process of trial & error. Take your time & write things down setting wise. Use the "help" button on the software & follow through. It's how I learn the ins/outs of programs. See if the program you're using to burn the ISO with, has a forum or help group & ask questions.
Normally creating an ISO copy of something is no big deal.
I use Power ISO. Never had a problem.
Good luck, & if all else fails, try power ISO, they have a free version that is all you could ask for!

December 5, 2012 4:46 AM

Something I have run into, which stems from the good old 'floppy disk' era.
Commercial companies releasing software have, for a long time, used custom disk formats. These formats 'seem to' store more on a disk than is normally possible (whether they do or not is a matter for debate), which means if you try to duplicate the contents onto a standard disk the PC simply reports back "Not Enough Space".
I have heard of ISO's between 5gb and 10gb in size, which will certainly be larger than standard DVD's, and even in some cases too large for the high-capacity DVD's.
A simpler method (with the cheapness of memory these days) is to copy the ISO onto a large enough USB stick and use one of a number of free programs to 'mount' the ISO as a removeable drive letter.

December 6, 2012 5:34 PM

You may refer to this step by step guide, it will show you how to burn files to DVD/CD, including songs, video, photos, data, ISO files, etc. It's easy to understand and safe.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to to ask your question.