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Connecting a Disc to a Writer

October 3, 2011
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Around the time of the MMC standard (1997 or so), there was a proposal to make it mandatory for all CD writers to write something called Recorder IDentification or RID to every disc written. This was rejected in a fairly resounding manner by the manufacturers of such devices.

However, the concept of RID didn’t completely die out. Some manufacturers did include RID on discs that were written but they decided on a number of different techniques for burying the RID on the disc where it wouldn’t be noticed.

Another interesting thing is that the manufacturers didn’t implement RID across the board but did so only on selected writers. I don’t have any special information about this, but it seems that they were testing the waters more or less and wanted to see what the reaction would be when, and if,, their inclusion of RID was discovered. For the most part, it wasn’t.

The end result was a small number of CD-RW drives had RID implemented around 1999 or so. Since then RID has mostly been abandoned. This is for a number of reasons:

  1. There was never a consumer “requirement” for this feature and nobody at all really noticed it in the ffew writers it was implemented in.
  2. There was no standard, draft standard or any other sort of proposal for where this information might be written on a DVD-R or DVD+R.

When it was implemented, there was a manufacturer code and a device serial number. This serial number does not match the serial number displayed by the serial number access command, if any, implemented by the drive. It is apparently a completely unique number. There might be a translation between the drive serial number and the RID serial number but this would depend on the manufacturer. About the only way to determine if a disc came from a writer with RID would be to record another disc and compare RID values.

Unlike digital camera serial numbers, I do not believe there is any manufacturer registry of the serial number values and warranty registration.

So today maybe 1% of the writers in existence write RID in one of a few places. When it is present on a disc, less than half the writers in existence today will read it.

CD/DVD Inspector will read it if it is present in one of the locations it has been found in, but the others are difficult to read from and most writers will not read it from those locations. This hasn’t been viewed as a high priority feature because of the rarity of encountering it. At some point in the version 4 release there will likely be an function to locate RID if it is present on the disc. If the writer does not support accessing all possible locations for the RID, that will be reported at that time. The Hardware Information display may also report the ability to read all possible RID locations.

In conclusion, the disc you are holding has nearly a 100% chance of not having any RID information recorded on it. If there was RID recorded on it, the writer in your forensic workstation probably would not read it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2011 3:00 pm

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  2. guest permalink
    November 3, 2011 10:11 am

    Do you know if these serial numbers are the same as the SID code? if not can discs be traced to consumers using the SID code?

    • November 3, 2011 12:07 pm

      No, SID is something that does not apply to “consumer” discs. It is something that would be applied to the glass master during manufacturing or somehow during replication. A consumer isn’t going to be using software that would apply it. What the writers can do is put RID on the disc, but most do not do it.

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