How do I copy a CD onto a flash drive?

This guide will provide step-by-step instructions for copying the contents of a CD to a USB flash drive on a Windows computer. We will cover the basic requirements, how to insert the CD and flash drive, navigate to the CD files in File Explorer, select and copy the files, paste them to the flash drive, and safely eject the hardware when finished.

Copying the contents of a CD to a flash drive allows you to free up the CD while still retaining the files in a portable format. Flash drives are small, lightweight and reusable, making them a convenient way to archive data from CDs.

This introduction gives a brief overview of the steps involved and explains the benefits of transferring CD contents to a flash drive. Let me know if you would like me to modify or expand the introduction section.


To copy files from a CD to a flash drive, you’ll need the following:

  • A computer with a CD/DVD drive. The computer needs to have a disc drive that can read the CD you want to copy. Most modern Windows PCs have a disc drive, but some laptops no longer include them.
  • A flash drive with enough storage space. The flash drive you use will need to have at least as much available storage as the total size of the files you want to copy from the CD. For example, if you need to copy 2GB of photo files, you’ll need a flash drive that has more than 2GB available. Common flash drive sizes range from 4GB to 256GB.[1]

Insert CD

The first step is to insert the CD that contains the files you want to copy. Most modern laptops no longer come with built-in CD/DVD drives due to their declining usage in recent years (source). However, you can use an external USB CD/DVD drive. With the external drive connected to your computer, open the disc tray and gently place the disc label-side up in the tray. Make sure the disc is securely placed in the center of the tray to ensure proper loading. Close the disc tray, which will draw the disc into the drive.

If you have a desktop tower computer, it may still contain an internal optical disc drive. Press the eject button on the front panel of the tower to open the disc tray. Similarly, insert the disc label-side up into the tray, close the tray, and let the disc load into the drive.

Insert Flash Drive

To copy the CD to a flash drive, you will first need to locate an available USB port on your computer and insert the flash drive. USB ports allow connection to USB devices like flash drives, keyboards, mice, and printers. The most common USB port types are USB-A, USB-B, and USB-C (USB: Port Types and Speeds Compared – Tripp Lite – Eaton).

USB-A ports are rectangular and flat, USB-B ports are square shaped, and USB-C ports are oval. Look for an available USB-A or USB-C port on your computer, as these are the most common types used with flash drives. Once located, insert the flash drive into the USB port. Make sure the flash drive is oriented correctly before inserting. Most flash drives have the USB connector on one side that will slide into the port. The flash drive may have a logo or writing on one side that should face up when inserting (Different USB Types, USB Ports, and USB Connectors Guide).

Open File Explorer

To begin copying a CD to a flash drive on Windows, you’ll first need to open File Explorer. File Explorer is the file management application included with Windows that allows you to browse, open, copy, move, and search for files and folders on your computer and connected devices.

To open File Explorer:

  • Click on the Start menu and select File Explorer from the list of applications, or
  • Open any folder and click on the File Explorer icon in the top left corner, or
  • Press the Windows key + E on your keyboard.

Opening File Explorer will display a list of your drives, folders, and frequently accessed locations on the left side. You can browse through these to locate the files you want to copy. The main window shows the contents of the currently selected folder or drive.

According to WinDirStat, File Explorer is one of the most used applications on Windows, providing access to view, manage, and organize files.

Navigate to CD

To navigate to the CD in File Explorer on Windows, first locate the CD drive in the menu on the left side of the File Explorer window. CD drives are usually labeled with the letter D, E, F, or G depending on how many hard drives are already installed on your computer (for example, your C drive contains your main hard drive). Click on the CD drive to open it and view the contents of the CD.

CDs use the ISO 9660 file system format to organize data (ISO 9660). This standard format allows CDs to be read across different operating systems and devices. When you open the CD drive in File Explorer, you will see a list of folders and files contained on the CD.

Select Files

Once you have navigated to the CD files in File Explorer, you will need to select the files you want to copy. There are two main ways to select files on a CD:

1. Click and drag to highlight multiple files. This will select all of the files you drag over. Dragging allows you to quickly select a group of contiguous files.
[Source 1]

2. Hold the Ctrl key while clicking on individual files. This will add each file you click to the selection. Using Ctrl click allows you to select specific, non-contiguous files.
[Source 2]

Make sure you only select the files you want to copy to the flash drive. Any selected files will be copied in the next step.

Paste Files to Flash Drive

Once you have located the files on the CD that you want to copy, it’s time to paste them onto the flash drive. First, open up the flash drive in File Explorer. The flash drive will appear as a removable disk with its own drive letter (such as E: or F:). Double click on the flash drive to open it.

With both the CD files and the flash drive open side-by-side in File Explorer, select the files on the CD you want to copy. You can select multiple files by holding down Ctrl on your keyboard and clicking each file you want to copy. Once you have all the files selected, press Ctrl + C on your keyboard to copy the files.

Then click inside the window showing your flash drive’s contents. Press Ctrl + V on your keyboard to paste the files onto the flash drive. The files will begin copying over. Wait for the copy operation to complete.

The flash drive’s slower write speeds compared to the CD means this may take a bit of time depending on how large the files are. A USB 2.0 flash drive has write speeds around 3-10 Mbps, while a USB 3.0 drive will be faster at around 10-40 Mbps [1]. Once the progress bar disappears, your files have finished copying onto the flash drive.

Safely Remove Hardware

Before unplugging your flash drive from the USB port, it is important to safely remove the hardware first. According to Microsoft, you really don’t need to safely remove USB flash drives on Windows 10 as the default quick removal policy is sufficient (Source). However, some experts still recommend safely removing the hardware to ensure all read/write processes are completed and your files are fully transferred to the flash drive (Source). Removing the flash drive without safely ejecting can lead to data loss or file corruption.

To safely remove the flash drive on Windows, click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the taskbar and select Eject for your flash drive. Wait for the confirmation that it’s safe to remove the hardware before unplugging the flash drive. While technically not required, safely ejecting the flash drive is an extra precaution to prevent any issues.


In summary, transferring music from a CD to a USB flash drive involves a few simple steps:

  1. Insert the CD into the computer’s disc drive.
  2. Plug the USB flash drive into the computer.
  3. Open File Explorer and navigate to the CD drive.
  4. Select the audio files on the CD you want to copy.
  5. Right click on the selected files and choose “Copy”.
  6. Navigate to the USB flash drive in File Explorer.
  7. Right click in an empty space and select “Paste” to copy the files.
  8. Safely eject the USB flash drive once the transfer is complete.

If you run into issues copying the CD, here are some tips for troubleshooting:

  • Make sure the CD and USB drive have enough free space.
  • Try a different USB port in case the current one is faulty.
  • Scan for errors on the CD or USB drive.
  • Clean the CD for any scratches/damages.
  • Reformat the USB drive to fix file system errors.
  • Use a USB 2.0 drive instead of 3.0 which can have compatibility issues.

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