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We still get people coming to our trade counter on a daily basis to pick up DVD media for their machines but when asked whether they are after DVD-R or DVD+R a puzzled expression shoots across their face. It was for this reason that I thought it would be nice to recap on the different types of disc that you can buy for your DVD writer and the differences between them.

The DVD-R Format

The DVD-R Format was initially developed by Pioneer and is now the official format of the DVD forum which is the group that controls the specifications and licensing for the DVD logo. The DVD Forum was founded by Mitsubishi, Sony, Hitachi, and Time Warner so it has tremendous industry support for its technical standards. DVD-R discs are only writable once although a DVD-RW format is available for those who wish to rewrite on to their discs.

The DVD+R Format

The DVD+R Format is a rouge format created primary by the companies who were unwilling to pay the royalties to the DVD forum in order to use and develop the DVD-R standard and to use the DVD logo. As such it is not an official format however that does not inherently make it any worse and it is worth noting that the DVD+RW Alliance is supported by some heavy players such as Sony, Yamaha, Philips, Dell, and JP. Note that Sony sits on the fence by supporting both organizations. Again, DVD+R discs are only writable once although a DVD+RW format is available for rewriting.


This format is much less common in PC’s and is usually only seen as a rewritable format in standalone recorders, camcorders and so on. The media is housed in a protective case and benefits from an extremely long life as it can be re-written to up to 100,000 times unlike DVD-RW and DVD+RW which can only take around 1,000 rewrites. I won’t delve too much into this format as it is one that you are fairly unlikely to see.


As to which format you choose depends really on your particular DVD drive. Whilst the majority of current drives will take either format it is worth bearing in mind that a few new drives and plenty of older drives will still only take the one format it was designed to use. Historically DVD-R has always been the most widely accepted format although more recently some of the stand alone DVD recorders will only accept DVD+RW discs as there are a few technical advantages that lends this format more towards their specific task.

Whilst the advantage of DVD+R won’t be evident to most home PC users there are a few technical superiorities. On the flip side however DVD-R discs are often cheaper than their DVD+R counterparts so if your drive does take both then you may be best off trying DVD-R first off to try and take advantage of the cost saving benefits this format often provides.

About the author

Chris is the director of Refresh eCommerce and founded the company in 1999. He has worked with computers and printers all of his working life and has in-depth technical knowledge on a variety of subjects.

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