CD-RWs, as opposed to CDs, require specialized readers that have sensitive laser optics. Consequently, CD-RWs cannot be read in many CD readers built prior to the introduction of CD-RW. CD-ROM drives with a "MultiRead" certification are compatible.
CD-RWs must be erased or blanked before reuse. Erasure methods include full blanking where the entire surface of the disc is erased and fast blanking where only metadata areas, such as PMA, TOC and pregap, are cleared. Fast blanking is quicker and usually sufficient to allow rewriting the disc. Full blanking removes all traces of the previous data, and is often used for confidentiality purposes, though it may be possible to recover data with specialty recovery equipment. CD-RWs can sustain fewer re-writes as compared to other storage media (ca. 1,000 compared up to 100,000). The Ideal use is test discs, temporary backups, and as a middle-ground between online and offline storage schemes.