The meaning of DVD, DVD RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and then comes the DL

I’m sure when you go to buy DVD’s for burning purposes(to write[burn] data to), you may wonder about the selection of options available, their significance, and the appropriate application of knowing what it all means to a resultant purchase decision; Which one do I buy? Well, it turns out that I can translate the wades of information I’ve gone through regarding what they all mean to give you a fairly simple set of rules to apply in order to make a decision on which disc to buy for which purpose you may have. All of my research is sourced from

  1. The most important factor is: What kinda’ drive do you have? Is it a DVD burner even?If yes, which kind of DVD’s does it burn:
    • oldest drives may burn DVD-R discs only.
    • some of those drives do accept DVD-RW.
    • in addition, others can accept DVD-RAM, also.
    • newer ones also burn DVD+R and DVD+RW.
    • even newer ones will burn DVD-R DL, DVD-RW DL also.
    • and even newer than the previously mentioned newer ones will burn DVD+R DL, DVD+RW DL.

    Therefore, you can see how very important it is to find the identity of your drive and its respective capabilities.

  2. Will the data be shared by multiple computers with various different drives? Is this for distribution purposes?In which case, it may be wiser to use the older DVD-R format only, in order to ensure backwards compatibility with the oldest drives.
  3. Would you like to ensure longevity and reliability to your stored data?Drives which support DVD+R and DVD+RW support a technology which does this. If all of the computers on which you will use the DVD’s you burn will be able to read DVD+R\DVD+RW discs, this is the recommended option. The + signifies a technology which ensures a better and more accurate data store that is more reliable by using better error checking protocols, thus ensuring longevity and reliability of your stored data, as compared to the DVD-R\-RW discs. This comes with an impact of a few mb(like 3-4mb or so less than the -R\-RW’s).
  4. Will you be rewriting stored data to the disc over and over again? ie., daily\weekly\monthly(regular) backups.In which case, you need to use either the -RW, +RW, or RAM discs. You may be limited to the -RW discs if that is the only one that your drives support. You may be able to use the RAM or +RW discs if yours drives support them.
    • DVD-RW requires the full disc to be rewritten; That means all sectors have to be burn from the top to bottom any time you want to implement a change. You also require special software that supports this and drivers to burn to these discs. ie., Nero
    • DVD+RW has the best longevity and reliability. It does not require reburning each time you want to remove, add, or change a file onto the disc. But, you require special software and drivers to use them on Windows XP and older O/S. They are natively supported in Windows Vista, and the same is true for Linux(I believe – someone please confirm).
    • DVD-RAM supports on the fly changes. It shows up by default as a drive to which you may simply copy to or cut & paste from in Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Linux. It is a bit slower than the others. There are also a few questions of reliability; reports suggest that previous data may accidentally disappear by getting written over. ooops! Additionally, on Windows XP, the data would be stored using a Fat32 file system.
    • All above mentioned formats allow for 1000 burn cycles(revisions/rewrites).
    • When burning the discs, don’t close em!
    • The environmental impact of using writable discs as opposed to rewritable is significant. If you are going to be reburning data, it’s better to use an RW rather than burn a new DVD each time and throwing away the old one. These discs get stuck in landfills and they are non biodegradable; Their proper disposal is a tumulus and expensive one. If you will be writing data only once, use a regular DVD to burn to. The economic costs are significant upfront for a single data burn, but offer a cost advantage after the first reburn.
  5. I heard that it’s possible to store twice the amount of normal data?You can do this with Dual Layer discs; These are the ones labeled DL.
    • Many drives cannot read these in the first place, so forget about writing ’em if your drives lack support.
    • As with the non DL discs, the +R/+RW are proffered for longevity and reliability.
    • You are more likely to find a drive which burns DVD -R\+R DL than one which burns DVD -RW\+RW DL discs.
    • The prime benefit of using DL is less physical storage space required for your data. Also, some of your media may fit together better in 8.5GB(or so) better than in 4.3GB. For example, I’d prefer to store a music collection of 7.6 GB on a single DVD+R DL discs rather than on two separate 4.3 GB DVD+R discs.
  6. Additional Points:
    • DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disc. Originally, it stood for Digital Video Discs.
    • Think of it as with/without R:plus/minus R:+R/-R.
    • DL stands for Dual Layer. These discs are often used by digital video recorders and other portable media recording hardware.

2 Responses

  1. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us useful information to work
    on. You have done a marvellous job!

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