CDs burning improperly? Songs skipping? Verification errors? I can help!

This story started about 2 or 3 years ago in my previous car. When I would burn MP3 CDs (just simple data diss), some songs would play, some would play for a bit and then go blank, some would skip, and some discs wouldn’t even play. I drove me crazy to have a head unit that could play MP3 discs but not actually play the MP3 discs. It started happening out of the blue so I assumed the unit had gone bad and I was out of luck.

Flash forward to last weekend and I stumbled into buying a new-to-me car. It has an MP3 capable head unit and I was excited to start using that feature again. Burned a Wu-Tang disc, brought it with me the next time I was going out, popped it into the player and… SAME PROBLEM. What the hell?

So I bought new/different CDs – same problem. Tried my other burner – same problem. Tried a different software – same problem. Tried a different disc style – same problem. Sometimes they would verify and sometimes they would error out but ALL the time they would not play properly. I was beginning to think that my music collection had gone bad except it played fine on the computer and on an iPod.

It was Google time, in a big way. Here are a few things I found out about burning a CD of any type. It turns out, the solution was easy. All I had to do was…

Turn down the burn speed

Just because your discs say they are capable of burning at a certain speed doesn’t mean they actually are. The Sony discs I bought were rated for up to 48x but, as soon as I turned the speed down to 24x, discs burned great and played just fine in the car. Try a speed much lower than the top speed, like 24x or 12x.

Thanks to Platinum GLS on

Get rid of nested directories

You would think that a CD player would be able to figure out directories inside of directories but some just can’t. Some of that probably has to do with the fact that most CD players are linear, meaning that they only have forward and back controls, not up and down, so navigation might be a problem. If you are using folders, use them in the root directory only (meaning the “first level” of the file structure) and, just to be sure, if you are using directories, put all the songs in a directory (no songs in the root directory).


Correct file structure to burn a CD


Incorrect file structure for burning a CD

Rename long and/or oddly-named files

In addition to nested directories, some players also have problems with certain characters and file name lengths that border on infinite. Get rid of symbols and shorten the name a bit to make sure that your player can read and display the name. Some burning software will actually rename the file but that doesn’t always mean that your play can play them.


How to name your songs to burn onto a CD


How not to name files to burn onto a CD

Update your driver firmware

Firmware is software that resides within hardware to instruct it how to function and how to run commands sent by your computer. If your burner is over a year old, there might be a firmware update to download and install. This sounds technical but it shouldn’t be that hard. Go to the website of the manufacturer of your burner and search for updates, find your model number, download and install.

Memory problems – not enough or going bad

It’s unlikely that the first problem you would encounter with bad memory on your computer would be burning a CD but stranger things have happened. Run a memory checker (like Memtest86+), just in case. It’s more likely that maybe you’re doing a little too much multi-tasking during your burn sessions. Surf the web, write a letter, or plan your next CD but leave your Photoshop, Crysis, and Maya3D applications closed. It is possible to overrun your burning buffer and affect the data that is written.

Finalize your CDs

MP3 players don’t like “multi-session” discs (when you can add data later) so make sure to finalize the CD. Every burn program should have this option available.

Defragment your hard drive

But you do that regularly anyways, right?

On an XP machine, go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Make sure to run it when you won’t be working on your computer, like overnight. I’d recommend doing this once per quarter or more frequently if you move files around a lot.

As a side-note, the disk defragmenter icon is probably one of my most favorite icons of all time. Yes, I have favorite icons.


Disk defragmenter icon

Still not working? Here’s more options for you

Here is a great list of things to try from Acoustica.
Here is a whole site dedicated to helping you solve this little problem.

Hoped that helped!


Total: 9

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  1. ginny

    July 21, 2018 at 8:34 am  •  Reply

    ginny says:

    Hi Josh, thankfully in my truck I can use a memory stick as I have updated the player, I shall buy some more dvds and try and work out where the burn speed is OR I’ve found a cd with us cd rw 4gig can i use this as it would be better than tons of cds thank you

  2. Ken Fingleton

    February 18, 2018 at 9:18 pm  •  Reply

    Ken Fingleton says:

    2-18-2018 I had the same problem on a windows XP burner. It worked for years but tonight it warned me that the CD might not play at all. It played song #1 and hangs up on #2 4, 7, 9, 12, 17. This was burned at 8X.

    I moved the burning operation to a 2009 Mac Mini with CD slot and at X6. I produced two discs that played all tracts on my worst player. Then, I found this answer which I can apply to the old XP machine. Thanks for sharing Josh.

  3. Jack

    February 16, 2018 at 12:33 pm  •  Reply

    Jack says:

    Lowering the burn speed to 24 worked perfectly. CD’s now play in every device and so far no skipping. Thank you so very much

  4. Stuart

    January 4, 2017 at 9:06 am  •  Reply

    Stuart says:

    Hi there, I burned a disc and the first couple of tracks have missing parts, I slowed the burn speed still the same, changed disc type, still the same, tried different albums still the same and if i try the same album again parts are missing again but not necessarily at the same point, if i play the album from the computer it plays fine so the data is there.

  5. Vito

    September 22, 2016 at 10:39 am  •  Reply

    Vito says:

    Hi Josh, My duplication towers will not burn the song titles, even though I have them embedded on the master. When played in a car CD player, the master shows the titles but the copy will not. I have run through the tower menu but can’t seem to find a remedy. Thanks,

  6. Charles W

    May 11, 2016 at 12:49 pm  •  Reply

    Charles W says:

    I must thank so much for the info. Your advise works well. I updated firmware on both burners, made sure the names of the songs were simple, most important, I lowered the burning speed(24 mbs), instead of the original 48 that it defaults to. I think lowering the burning speed as well as small file names are most important.

    I was getting skips, echoes and blanking out, CD not playable, etc..


  7. Lynn

    March 11, 2016 at 1:39 pm  •  Reply

    Lynn says:

    I love my tunes and had the exact problems you had. I even had the same thought about wishing I had a new car. Been so bummed as I had been without my new music for two months or so. Tried a bunch of things with no success until I found this blog. Made my day to finally resolve these issues!!! Couldn’t find the directories you refer to and my burner software was up to date. Did not need to defragment and my song titles looked ok. I tried the slow burn before, but this time, it worked. I have a feeling just poking around triggered something. It seems to happen like that with computers. Regardless, Josh or whoever, I am so appreciative!!!! ? Thanks!!!

    • Josh

      March 11, 2016 at 2:15 pm  •  Reply

      Josh says:

      Amazing that a decade-old post about technology can still help! Glad I could be of service :)

  8. Julie Beauregard

    July 19, 2015 at 8:57 am  •  Reply

    Julie Beauregard says:

    Thank you! I googled in french and english for about 2 hours and after 5 scrapped CDs I found your blog! I changed the burning speed to 12x and went in my car…tried it…and woohoo! its working perfect!
    Problem was: I have 15 songs in an Itune Playlist, was burning completely, but a the end of the 10th song it was beginning to skip and then from song 11 to 15 skipped more and even the 15th song wasn’t playing at all.
    Thanks again!


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