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CD Duplication vs. CD Replication

We get it, not all our customers are tech people. But when you work with technology, it helps to become familiar with some common terms you most often work with. That’s why we’ve provided you with a slice of our expertise using this handy resource page to consult!

CD-R vs. CD-ROM.  What is the Difference?

Who knew there were different kinds of CD? What about duplication? Replication? What’s the difference? They all look and sound the same!


A CD-R, or Compact Disc Recordable, is a disc that can only be written once. It’s called a WORM (Write Once, Read Many). You won’t be able to change your mind about the content of a disc after or during the writing process, unfortunately. Data can’t be erased or altered. But you can store up to 700MB of data (or 80 minutes of digital audio; you can mix and match data and audio), so it is still a very useful format. Data is written on a CD-R by burning or writing. It is important that you store your disc properly so that it does not prematurely degrade. CD-R Media is what is used in our Duplication Process. CD-R’s are duplicated.


A CD-ROM, or Compact Disc Read-Only Memory, is a disc that can only be read and will not allow additional data to be burned to the disc. Reading only means that users cannot change or remove data; you may only interact with it. Data is pressed as opposed to burning or writing onto the disc. Like the CD-R, a CD-ROM has 700MB of available data, but in practice you generally get closer to 800MB. A CD player can read a CD-ROM disc but cannot write to it. CD-ROMs are used to run programs or for an existing program on your computer to use the data it provides. CD-ROM Media is what is used in our Replication Process. CD-ROM’s are replicated.

How CDs are made―The Basics of CD Writing

To understand how CD-R and CD-ROM differ in their manufacturing process, you need a very short lesson on how CDs work.

A disc has a layer of polycarbonate with grooves or tracks on its surface. Within these tracks is called a pit. The raised areas between are called lands. The basic 01 computer language is read and extrapolated by the laser in your CD reader from the combination and pattern of these raised and flat areas. The pits and lands are formed through various means according to their type.


The duplication process uses a recording drive or “burner drive” to store information on a blank CD or DVD recordable disc. High volume duplicators are used to copy hundreds of discs quickly and efficiently. The discs are then printed with our PhotoPro thermal print process or with another process. Duplication uses dyes and lasers to burn data onto the disc. You use duplication for CD-R discs.

Some of Duplication’s perks:

  • Duplication is quick―our CD and DVD duplication services can have your discs copied in just 3-5 business days and our Express Service allows for 24-48 hour turn times
  • Duplication has lots of print options―PhotoPro, digital, or thermal printing. See here for more details
  • Duplication is economical―it is perfect for low volume orders/runs of 100-2,000 discs


The replication process uses heavy machinery to “stamp” or “press” information onto a disc during manufacturing. First, a glass master is created that will serve to create stampers. Think of a glass master as a master key. The stampers or molds are the blueprint for the replication process. They replicate the master glass. CDROM2Go utilizes strict quality control procedures to ensure that all manufactured discs are perfect copies of the original. After production, discs are printed with large scale silkscreen or offset printers.

Some of Replication’s perks:

  • Replication is economical―it’s perfect for high volume runs of 2,000 to one million pieces or more. High volume manufacturing equals low cost-per-disc. Our replication services are a good choice when time is not a critical factor.
  • Replication has excellent print options—Silkscreen has a resolution of 80 lines per inch and is the standard printing process for printing on CD-ROM discs. Silkscreen is ideal for solid color and vector text. Offset is a new process for printing on discs that has the resolution of 175/lines per inch. It’s great for photos and raster artwork.


CD-ROMs are pressed, not burned. They are replicated. This means that a nickel plated stamper (made from a master disc) presses data into the surface of the disc, forming pits and lands on the polycarbonate base. The pits and rises are what form the data, and can be read more accurately than a CD-R’s laser burned data. This is why some CD-R discs don’t’ work in some CD players/trays. CD-ROMs are utilized by companies seeking to distribute their software or offer marketing information to consumers.


On the other hand, CD-R is burned using a laser. They are duplicated. A special dye is layered and then burned on using a laser, creating pits and lands that convert into readable data. As stated previously, you cannot rewrite a CD-R disc, but you can completely fill up all available capacity of a disc. A CD-RW has a phase changing metal recording surface that darkens when exposed to heat but can be reversed, allowing rewrites.

Which Do You Need?


A CD-R is great for:
  • Low volume disc production
Fast delivery high end disc label printing


A CD-ROM is good for:
  • Retail ready distribution
Low cost per disc mass production
Disc TypeDuplicatedReplicated
Quick turn times Excellent print options Economical for low volume orders
Economical for high volume orders Slower turn times Silkscreen or offset printing options available

Oh, don't forget Print Only!

Print only refers to our disc label and packaging printing services only. Your discs will not be duplicated or replicated; you will receive blank discs with label art. Our in-house professionals specialize in creating pre-printed discs and custom printed packaging inserts. Get your discs and packaging printed with your choice of digital, Thermal, PhotoPro, Inkjet or Silkscreen printing.

Print only features:

  • Excellent printing options: Digital, Thermal, PhotoPro, Inkjet, or Silkscreen
  • Burn as you go! With our pre-printed discs, you can change your content quickly without having to reprint your disc artwork/label
  • Pre-printed packaging allows you to easily customize your disc cases. Both Digital and Offset processes are available.

Still Confused or Unsure?

That’s okay, we can help you. Just dial our toll free number, 877-992-3766 and our excellent sales associates will help you!