How to Check if a CD Is Blank


Mounds of unlabeled CDs lie around and you have no idea which ones have been used and which ones you can grab to burn new information onto. Knowing how to decipher which CD is blank can save you a lot of time and frustration. CDs are made of an aluminum layer in between a polycarbonate and a protective lacquer. Visual detection is the quickest and simplest method to check if a CD is blank.

  • Handle the CD with care. Locate the top of the CD by looking at its color; opaque coloring usually indicates the top labeled part of a CD.

  • Place your index finger into the hole and grab the exterior part of the CD with your fingers; this ensures no damage occurs to your CD due to mishandling.

  • Flip the CD upside down while still holding the CD appropriately. Hold the CD up towards light. You will be able to see any clear coloration.

  • Look towards the center of the CD; CD information are usually read from the center out towards the edges. If a CD has any information written on it there will be a slight color variation. This coloration will have a distinctive hard edge which will distinguish itself from the original color of the CD and will appear darker. The darker inner circle contains the written information. If the CD appears smooth and all one color then that CD is blank.

Tips & Warnings

  • CD variations include CD-R and CD-RW. CD-R stands for compact disc-recordable. These types of discs are only capable of writing information once and read many times. CD-RW stands for compact disc-rewritable. These discs are capable of writing information over and over as long as the disc is not damaged.

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  • Photo Credit Tsuneo Yamashita/Photodisc/Getty Images
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