How do I enable DMA mode on CD and DVD burner drives?
About this technical note
This document describes
how to enable DMA operation for CD or DVD burner drives, regardless of the burning software you use. It
includes screenshots of Windows XP. Windows 2000 setup is very similar
with the same screens. For Windows 98 and Windows Me slightly
different windows are involved.
What is DMA mode?
DMA (Direct memory access) mode is a
high performance mode for transferring data to and from devices, in particular,
to CD and DVD burner devices.
The burner devices can
function in either DMA or PIO modes. DMA mode allows the processor to
transfer large pieces of data with very little software overhead -
therefore requiring low CPU utilization. In this mode, high speed
burning can be performed in background with other programs running.
mode requires CPU processing for every few bytes sent to the device,
so that CPU utilization becomes very high when trying to burn at high
Which transfer modes are supported by Photo Backup?
Setting up the burner drive to operate with DMA mode
In order to verify that your drive works in DMA mode, or to change it to
DMA mode, follow these steps.
Open the hardware setting dialog of Windows. To do this, right-click
on 'My computer' and select Properties.
Then, choose the 'Hardware' tab and click
on 'Device Manager'.
Each burner drive is controlled by an IDE ATA/ATAPI controller.
There are probably two controllers in your computer, each with two
The drive letter of each
burner determines the controller and device responsible for it.
The table below can be used to determine the correct controller for your
||IDE ATA/ATAPI controller
for the 'IDE ATA/ATAPI' controllers icon and expand it by
clicking on the (+) sign next to it. Select either the Primary or
secondary IDE channel, which controls your burner drive, right
click on it and select Properties.
to the 'Advanced settings' tab, and the device that you want to
set (Device 0 or Device 1). The example below shows that
drive D:\ works in PIO only mode. You
should modify this to 'DMA if available' mode,
to let Windows select DMA mode if it is supported by your burner (it
click OK. Windows will ask you if you want to reboot,
for these settings to take effect. You should allow it.
booting up, the burner drive should work much faster and consume much
less CPU power.
What if this doesn't work?
Windows XP only
Windows XP reverts to PIO mode after several attempts to use DMA mode have failed.
If this had happened, Windows XP will not return to DMA mode even if you instruct it to do so.
Microsoft considers this a safeguard, but many users find this feature confusing.
In order to manually reset the access mode, you can uninstall the drive and reboot.
Windows will detect the drive at the first boot and use it. You can then set the access mode to DMA,
and Windows will use that setting. Of course, if there is a real problem using DMA mode, Windows will revert to PIO mode again.
You may want to consider alternative burning software and verify that it doesn't cause Windows to retreat to PIO mode.
Some (rare) burners have problems working in DMA mode. If, after you reboot,
the burner driver is not detected, or it doesn't function correctly,
you should disable the DMA mode and reboot. If reboot does not fix it,
you may uninstall the IDE controller. Windows plug and play would find
this device and scan for connected drives. This only occurs for a very
small number of burner drives, with very old firmware.
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