This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (email@example.com) with numerous contributions by others.
The best approach is the one that leaves you with a 100% readable disc
today and a few years down the road. The key ingredients are:
Use quality media
Saving a few pennies today could result in big headaches later on.
Some of the cheap bulk brands are good-quality "unbranded" media
from reliable manufacturers, but many have poor construction and
will not last. Section (7-4-1) has some thoughts on which are good
and which aren't. Stick to 74-minute or 80-minute discs. 90- and
99-minute discs are not as reliable.
Use conventional pre-mastering, not packet writing
Packet writing ("drive letter access") is easy to use but files can
be "deleted" even on CD-R media, making them difficult to recover.
Sometimes open discs will Go Funny and becomes unreadable. (See section
(6-3-2) for a "reality check".) You want to gather the files and
record them all at once, not drag-and-drop them onto the disc as if
it were a floppy.
Use CD-R, not CD-RW
If you don't want your data to be erased, don't put it on erasable
media. If you must use packet writing, you are less likely to have
data loss with CD-R, because nothing is ever really deleted or
overwritten. Also, some concerns have been raised about CD-RW media
Use disc-at-once recording
Leaving a session or disc open creates the possibility of some other
device or program screwing up the TOC and making the disc unreadable.
Multi-session discs create opportunities for confusion.
Software like Ahead's Nero (6-1-28) can automatically verify the data
after recording completes. Other suggestions are in section (3-22).
These rules also result in discs with the broadest possible compatibility, so
you should also follow them if you're planning to distribute files on CD-R.
If you're planning to store the data for an extended period, such as for
an archival backup, you should write the same data to two different kinds
of media and store the discs separately.
See also section (7-27) for advice on handling and storing CDs.