This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (firstname.lastname@example.org) with numerous contributions by others.
You can, though there may be reasons not to. The seek times tend to be
slower than a standard CD-ROM drive because the head assembly is heavier.
Early CD recorders were optimized for writing, which doesn't require
fast seeks, and some users experienced jerky video playback as a result.
Most current models have pretty good seek times though (about 100ms vs.
80ms for a playback-only drive).
The MTBF on CD-R units has historically been lower than that of CD-ROM
drives, so it may be wise to use a different drive for general use to
preserve the life of the CD-R. Now that CD recorders are cheap enough to
be nearly disposable, though, there's not much point in worrying about them.
See also section (5-27) on laser diode lifetime.
(What follows are instructions for getting some of the early consumer CD
recorders to work as CD-ROM drives. You shouldn't need to worry about
any of this unless you bought an old drive in an auction.)
If you're using Win95, some older CD recorders don't show up as readers
without additional drivers, or (for SCSI drives) show up as 8 separate
LUNs. (LUNs are Logical UNits, useful for distinguishing between different
items loaded in a CD jukebox.) The reason why some older recorders don't
show up by default is that they're classified as "type 4" SCSI-2 devices,
which is used to indicate write-once devices. Standard CD-ROM drives are
HP and Philips used to supply drivers for their older units, and
Corel used to supply several drivers for with their CD Creator
product. You used to be able to get get a patch from Adaptec at
ftp://ftp.adaptec.com/pub/BBS/win95/cdr4up.exe that would allow many type
4 drives, including the Yamaha CDR-100/102 and JVC XR-W2010, to appear as
CD-ROM drives, but it appears to be gone. You may be able to find these
archived on the web.
If you don't have the drivers, you can still get old SCSI drives to work
under Win9X by loading the real-mode drivers like this (example is for an
LH C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:ASPICD0 /M:12
Incidentally, to *remove* the Adaptec cdr4up driver, you should remove
the file "CDR4VSD.VXD" from \Windows\System\Iosubsys, and reboot.
For IDE recorders, you need a more specific driver. The manufacturer's
web page likely has a link. See also http://www.drivershq.com/ and