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  • DVD Media Explained

At first glance, DVD formats are nothing more than a jumble of letters and symbols. At second glance, it becomes apparent that each format has a distinct purpose. Understanding that purpose is the difference between selecting the right DVD and choosing the wrong one. Shop for DVD media by considering both the type of data you want to record and the type of burning software that you currently have.

Some discs are compatible with older DVD players, though most newer formats work best with modern disc drives. Prior to purchasing any kind of disc, it is wise to consider whether or not your DVD player will support a particular format. Large quantities of most DVD types can be purchased for around $30.


The first type of recordable DVD to hit the market was DVD-R (the “R” stands for “recordable”). Thus, this type of DVD media is ideal for older DVD players. DVD-R discs are capable of holding 4.6GB, and these discs can reach speeds of 16x. Similar to the DVD-R disc is DVD+R media.

Also capable of 16x speed, DVD+R media was built for recording small bits of data. As a general rule DVD+R discs can record compact bits of data faster than a DVD-R disc. However, using DVD+R media on an older DVD-ROM machine or older DVD player will not work. While this format can be useful, it is impossible to record over a DVD-R or DVD+R disc.


DVD+R DL (dual-layer) is a type of pioneer media. Prior to DVD+R DL, dual-layer media did not exist. These discs were designed to back-up videos while also having the ability to back-up data. Dual-layer DVDs do not work with older DVD machines. Another dual-layer option is DVD-R DL, which has approximately 4 million less bytes. DVD-R DL is a difficult format to use with most drives.


Presently, there are two rewritable DVD formats including DVD-RW and DVD+RW. In both instances the “RW” stands for “rewritable.” Thus, it is possible to re-record data on a DVD-RW or DVD+RW disc. Both formats are quick, though DVD+RW is faster, and both formats are entirely rewritable. Generally, DVD+RW formats are easier to use than DVD-RW formats. When choosing rewritable formats, be aware that this technology is frequently changing. Thus, backing up data with a DVD+RW or DVD-RW format may not be a wise idea.

Blu-Ray Discs

BD-R and BD-RE discs are both Blu-Ray formats. In order to create a high-quality Blu-Ray recording, it is important to have a Blu-Ray compatible software burning program. Blu-Ray discs are fast and easy to use (drag and drop support).


DVD-RAM discs act exactly like a regular hard drive. Therefore, these discs can find and access data quickly and efficiently. The DVD-RAM format also allows users to re-record data up to 100,000 times. However, DVD-RAM discs do not work on most DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. Find out if your computer supports this type of format prior to purchasing DVD-RAM discs.