Updated 02/01/2013Home » Guides » 800 MB XCD Guide

800 MB XCD Guide

This guide explains everything you need to know about this CD format which allows to noticeably increase the capacity of your standard CD-R/RW discs without overburning.

The proper name for this format is XCD, but since the format creates discs with mode 2 sectors, it is also known as mode 2 CD or CD-XA (for eXtended Architecture).

With the XCD disc you can have bigger data sector sizes, because of the usage of reduced error correction data, such that more space of the CD can be used for media files. Therefore, both audio and video quality can be increased using standard recordable discs. Please be aware that this technology is still under development, and there is no standard for the XCD disc yet. Also, you will need to install a special filter to read this type of disc.

Notice the XCD is not yet readable by all CD/DVD drives. The XCD is still in its experimental phase, and by no means it is a finished product. Therefore we recommend you to burn your first XCD on a CD-RW (ReWriteable CD) to test its compatibility with your drives. If your XCD disc is unreadable even after installing the filter, you'll have to wait for a more compatible release of the filter and/or the image maker. Anyway, most drives should be able to read an XCD by now.

Disc Capacities

1- Standard mode 1 CD

  • 74 min - 650 MB
  • 80 min - 700 MB
  • 90 min - 790 MB
  • 99 min - 870 MB

2 - XCD mode 2

  • 74 min - 738 MB
  • 80 min - 800 MB
  • 90 min - 900 MB
  • 99 min - 990 MB
These avobe recordable capacities do not imply any overburn methods.

As you can see, the XCD has higher capacities, because it uses bigger data sectors. However, since the CD-XA or mode 2 format was originally created for VCD/SVCD only, you will need certain software to create this type of disc with any file types. All normal data CDs are mode 1, which has less effective capacity due to the large amount of error correction data needed to make the disc more readable/secure despite damage on its surface.

The 'normal' mode for standard CD burning equals to mode 1, and the XCD mode equals to mode 2, with reduced error correction data and beter disk space usage.

For reading an XCD, you'll need to have installed the CD-XA filter. Remember some old drives won't be capable of reading these disks even with the filter installed.

Frequently Asked Questions about XCD

What for can I use the XCD?
You can burn larger files, eg. on a 700 MB CD you can store a 800 MB movie, increasing in near 110 kbps the bitrate of a 120 minutes movie. Therefore, you can store larger duration movies without sacrificing the video or audio quality.

My CD-writer doesn't support overburn. Can I still burn an XCD?
Yes. Since the XCD is basically a CD-XA or mode 2 CD, which is a standardized format, all recorders may be able to burn them. We are not overburning when making an XCD.

What devices can read an XCD?
Unfortunately not all devices can read this type of disc yet. The files will always show up on the CD layout at the windows explorer, however no program will be able to open nor copy them to the hard disk if your drive is not compatible. It is unknown which devices are compatible and which not. The XCD developers are aware of this and they are working on this issue.

What do I need to read this type of disc?
The XCD can store both mode 1 & mode 2 files on the same disc, or cointain mode 2 files solely. Mode 1 files will be always readable, while mode 2 files will require the CD-XA filter.

What happens if the CD get scratched?
Since the XCD uses reduced error correction data, when you have an unrecoverable error in the middle of a movie it will keep playing, but with some blocks on the screen during the damaged area of the disc. Like common mode 1 discs, if the damaged area is over the index of the file, obviously that file will become unusable.

What operating systems can read this type of disc?
The XCD technology is compatible with all Windows versions since Windows 95 and certain Linux versions as well. Check out the project's software page for details.

Can this type of disc damage my CD writer drive?
Definitely not. When burning this type of image file we are basically creating a disc in mode 2 format, and we are not even using any overburn technique.

Can I burn this image on a CD-RW?
Yes, and we recommend you to burn your first XCD on a CD-RW to test the media compatibility with your devices and drives first.

Can I use overburn techniques with and XCD?
Some users reported it is possible, but we don't recommend it due to the compatibility reduction this could bring. Not all drives might be able to read such large discs.

Can I use this format to burn VCD/SVCD discs?
The VCD/SVCD discs are already created with mode 2 format because they use the entire disc capacity and reduced error correction data, so you must not use this guide for VCD/SVCD.

How do I copy files from an XCD to the hard disk?
Direct drag&drop file copying is not always valid for an XCD. For this there is a small utility which allows to copy any mode 2 file from an XCD back into the hard disk drive.

How to burn an XCD

In this guide we will burn a movie, a subtitle file, the DivX codec, and the CD-XA filter. Remember that with the Mode 2 CD Maker we are only creating the image file, which can be later recorded with any Data Mode 2 compatible burning program such as Nero, CDRWIN, etc.

The image we are about to create will have both mode 1 and mode 2 files. You should add small files as mode 1, and large files such as videos should be in mode 2 format. Remember that the mode 1 files will use the same space as normal mode 1 discs, so is not a good idea to add large files as mode 1.

Since the XCD can contain both mode 1 and mode 2 files on the same disc, you can burn the CD-XA filter as a mode 1 file, in order to install it directly from the same disc. The filter is needed only to read the files burnt in mode 2, while the mode 1 part of the CD is always readable even without the CD-XA filter installed.

Step 1: Installation

After downloading the Mode2 CD Maker GUI, extract the files to an empty folder and then run m2cdmgui.exe. To install the CD-XA filter to read mode 2 files, unzip the filter files in to any folder and run install.bat.

Step 2: Add files to the CD image

We'll add the subtitles file, the DivX codec, and the CD-XA filters as standard mode 1 files, and a movie in mode 2 format.

The files stored on the mode 1 part will occupy the same space on the disc than on a standard CD-R, since they include the usual error correction data. The mode 1 files will be readable even without installing the CD-XA filters. Mode 2 files will use reduced error correction data and therefore occupy less space on the CD.

Click Add Files to add mode 1 files to the image. You can select multiple files at once.

Click on Add Media Files to add mode 2 files.

Step 3: Create the image file

The disc structure is as follows:
  • Standard items: mode 1 files, with normal error correction data.
  • Bold items: mode 2 files, with reduced error correction data, and less disk space usage.
To turn a file into the other mode, select it and click the Set/Unset Form2 button.

Notice mode 2 files must be at least 400 KB each if not using the Single Track option

The image options are as follows:

ASCII, ISO Level 1 and ISO Level 2:
  • ASCII: Maintain the original filenames with all characters, including uppercase/lowercase.
  • ISO Level 1: Uses the ISO 9660 sandard. Filenames are limited to 8+3 characters. For example, a file named 'Analyze This.avi' will be converted to 'ANALYZ~1.AVI'.
  • ISO Level 2: Uses the ISO 9660 standard. Non alphanumeric characters are turned to '_' and filenames are limited to 31 characters. Example: 'Analyze This.avi' > 'ANALYZE_THIS.AVI'.
Single Track:
This option forces the creation of a single-track CD. This makes all files lie on a single track, which has the following advantages: now each Form2 file can be smaller than 400 Kb, no pregaps are added for each one (thus saving more space) and the ISO filesystem is smaller, too, because there is no need for a separate ISO Bridge track.

Keep Extension:
You can keep the original mode 2 file extension into the file name. For example: "movie.avi" will appear as "movie.avi.dat". This only applies to the Mode2 files.

View Prompt:
If enabled, you will see the program status window with the details during the image creation process.

Save and Load buttons:
You can save the disc structure information to reload it later.

Volume Name:
This will be the CD label name displayed in the windows explorer.

Form2 Extension:
By default all mode 2 files will change their extension to "DAT". You can change this default extension by using your favorite one, and all mode 2 files will have this extension. Note that it's not recommended to use a registered extension here since it may lead to problems when trying to play the file with certain players.

After configuring your image file, click Write ISO to start the image creation process.

Step 4: Burn the image to a CD-R/RW

Finally, we will use the CD writing tool Nero to burn the image file into a CD-R/RW, but you can use any other program you regularly use to burn CDs.

If the New Compilation or the Wizard dialog appears when you start Nero, close it.

Go to the File menu and select Burn Image.

Make sure to select All Files at the Type box to see the image files. Select the one that has no extension (BIN extension, but hidden by Windows) and is the larger in size.

After you have opened the image, you will see the Foreign Image Settings popup dialog.

Select the Data Mode 2 type of image and click OK.

In the last popup window you will be prompted to select the write method and speed, settings that you should be able to configure as usual.

Remember to install the CD-XA Filter in order to make the mode 2 files of the disc readable. After downloading it, extract the file's contents to any folder and run install.bat to install it.

Recovering files from an XCD

Not always the drag&drop or copy&paste process for copying mode 2 files is valid. If this is your case, use the XCD Extractor to reconstruct a mode 2 file from an XCD back into the hard disk.

First select the mode 2 file from your XCDand then the target file name in the hard disk and click Extract. The file will be copied to the specified location in its original state.


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