A good friend of mine is having a problem with some (read: 17) CDs that he tried to burn a while back on a former computer.
WHAT HAPPENED: While using Windows 98: he started saving and backing up old files onto CDs by (for example, when using Word) saving files directly onto the disc by accessing the File/Save As menu.
Well, that was then and this is now: he's purchased a new computer, is running WIndows XP Home, but cannot gain access to any of the files that are supposed to be on these CDs. When the CDs are put into his new computer (A DVD-RAM, if that matters) the "BLANK CD" dialog box, asking what I want to do with the CD...but when I choose to explore the disc, there's zero bytes on the CD, and zero listed.
Its my belief that the CD was not finalized, and any data saved on the discs went when the old computer was disposed of. HOWEVER...the old hard drive is in the new computer.
I've searched for any and all files that would have found its way onto the hard drive, to see if they were locally echoed (such as .JPGs, .DOCs, .TXTs, and the like) and I'm not finding anything. A search for .ISO files has also come up empty.
On a different computer, you could try using CDMage to see if there is any data at all on the drive. I don't remember where I got this from, but this appears to be a site with it: http://cdmage.orcon.net.nz/frames.html The cdmage.cjb.net site appears to be gone now.
Scan that download with your virus scanner - like I said, I don't recognize the URL.
I can't really walk you through how to use this software, but really you are just looking for something other than a blank CD. It may be the case that the CD was never recorded. I've done it in the past -- had Nero set to Test and not burn, and you think you have a CD but you get nothing.
Well the cards you want these days are PCI-E, and E is the important thing. You have to make sure your motherboard has a PCI-E slot on it first. Then you can get a cheap one that will work out fine to run games, just not at full resolution.