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What is the point of finalizing CD/DVDs from user's point of view? First of all does it have any impact on reliability of media or it's just a way to ensure that the content of the disk cannot be changed?

I wonder because I use DVDs to store my system backups.

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Well, if you close a disc, you can't rewrite data to it. The only reason to close a disc is if you want full system compatibility. Some older drives and older DVD players only read closed disc. If you're just backing up to them, I wouldn't close them, because once a disc is closed, you cannot rewrite to it.

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Aren't writable discs forever wriitable? What about "finalize"-ing makes the disk no longer writable? – Pacerier May 2 '15 at 6:38

actually, xxl3ww is wrong. It is not the finalization that determines whether or not the disk can be written to again, it is the disk type (as I expect you all know, it being fairly elementary knowledge). A DVD-RW can be written to again after finalization, but you would have to erase all the info currently on it before you can. If it is not finalized, you can append the disk. Just thought I'd clarify that.

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It is mainly for old CD players. I know some car cd players won't recognise it if it hasn't been finalized.

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From my experience: finalize everything. Disks are dirt cheap, if you forgot a file or two, burn a new one and use the first one to make your refrigerator level. The reason being that in a couple of years, after you've updated your machine, you might find that finalized sessions are a lot easier to deal with that un-finalized ones.

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and remember bit-rot. Do you want to keep appending to the same disk? or do you want to grab a new disk every once in a while and verify your backups – Rich Homolka Apr 9 '15 at 21:44
How, or Why are they "a lot easier to deal" with? – Pacerier May 2 '15 at 6:38
@Pacerier - this may not be as true now, but back along, often times you could only read a non-finalized disk if you happened to have the cd-writing software that created the disk installed on the system. – JustJeff May 6 '15 at 15:46
@JustJeff, Does your answer basically boil down to ~"Finalize everything if you use legacy apps, else don't finalize"? – Pacerier May 24 '15 at 14:55
I laughed hard at this. My refrigerator is indeed unleveled. – Marc.2377 Jun 8 at 19:07

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