CD-RW (Compact Disc-ReWritable) is a digital optical disc storage format introduced in 1997. A CD-RW compact disc (CD-RWs) can be written, read, erased, and re-written. CD-RWs, as opposed to CDs, require specialized readers that have sensitive laser optics. Consequently, CD-RWs cannot be read in many CD readers built prior to the introduction of CD-RW. CD-ROM drives with a “MultiRead” certification are compatible.
CD-RWs must be erased or blanked before reuse. Erasure methods include full blanking where the entire surface of the disc is erased and fast blanking where only metadata areas, such as PMA, TOC and pregap, are cleared. Fast blanking is quicker and usually sufficient to allow rewriting the disc. Full blanking removes all traces of the previous data, and is often used for confidentiality purposes. CD-RWs can sustain fewer re-writes compared to other storage media (ca. 1,000 compared up to 100,000). Ideal use is for test discs (e.g. for CD authoring), temporary backups, and as a middle-ground between online and offline storage schemes.