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What Is the Maximum Storage Capacity of a CD?


In today’s world, a wide range of storage data options exist. These include cloud storage, external hard drives, a simple USB pen drive, and optical media (such as CDs and DVDs). One crucial factor to consider when seeking a personal storage medium is its capacity. If you opt for a compact disc (CD), you may want to use it to store, record, and play video, audio, and any data in digital form. So, what is the maximum storage capacity of a CD? 

Quick Answer

Generally, a standard compact disc (CD) has a storage capacity of 700 MB. Its diameter is 120 mm and can hold about 737 MB of data with error correction or up to 74 minutes of uncompressed stereo digital audio.

A CD is great storage and archiving medium where different file formats can be written. On it, you can store and backup databases, spreadsheets, designs, pictures, email backups, contracts, letters, audio, and video.  

In this article, we’ll explore the maximum storage capacity of a CD.

What Is CD Storage Capacity? 

The CD storage space has experienced a significant improvement, which is undoubtedly a huge advantage compared to cassette tapes and vinyl records. As far as its maximum storage capacity is concerned, the CD features 700 MB.

To you, this storage space may appear too much when it comes to megabytes. This is when you understand it from the angle of the amount of video and audio you can put on the disc. You can store about 60 minutes of videos and 80 minutes of CD-quality audio

The size of a picture will heavily depend on the physical size and resolution of the image; nevertheless, the considerable average picture is between 4 and 24 MB. You can put on one CD about 70 pictures if each picture is 10 MB (roughly a quarter megapixel high-quality JPEG image size).

What Are the Types of CDs?

There are two basic types of CDs. The first is CD-ROM (compact disc-read only media), and the second is CD-RW (compact disc-rewritable)

A CD-ROM is the simplest format of the two and is only available for use once. Discs that fall under this format can be used with most CD drives or players you can see today. The capacity of the discs is technically smaller: 650 MB. Nevertheless, most modern discs feature a standard CD capacity of 700 MB.

A CD-RW disc can be rewritten as many times as possible. Unlike most CD writing drives that can be burnt at the maximum speed to CD-R discs, for CD-RW discs (featuring stricter limits on the speed of writing), the speed of the drives is based on the disc capabilities. You can write on standard CD-RW discs at about 4X speed, whereas ultra-speed-plus discs, ultra-speed discs, and high-speed discs support 32X, 24X, and 12X, respectively.

What Are the Differences Between CDs and DVDs?

There are several differences between CDs and DVDs. The storage space of a CD is not as much as that of a DVD. With this, the DVDs are ideal for fitting complete movies on one disc. Besides, DVD features more options for being double-sided and having multiple layers.

How closely-packed the details are on the disc’s readable surface can explain why DVDs can store more data than CDs. For both storage media, the data is kept in collections of “dots” – pits on the disc’s surface – which the laser reads in the player and translates into a series of 0s and 1s to produce video, audio, or other data. The dots on a CD are not as compactly-stored and are not bigger compared to a DVD. So, the storage capacity of a CD is not as great as that of a DVD.

Furthermore, CDs can be played on a DVD player, but DVDs cannot be played on a CD player. The reason for this is that the laser on a DVD player must be able to read the tinier dots on the disc’s surface (making use of smaller-wavelength light), but the laser that comes with a CD player needs not to be as precise. With this, the sparse pattern of dots on a CD can be interpreted easily by the technology that helps read DVDs, but a CD reader cannot read the data from a DVD due to its low level of precision.


Knowing the storage capacity of a CD will help you know the amount of data you can store or archive on it. Make the right decision on your data today with the information that the maximum storage capacity of a CD is 700 MB, and learn the differences between optical media CDs and DVDs.

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