What Is the Definition for Optical Drive?

by Susan Presley

Optical drives are used with computers to read data and sometimes to write data, as well. They are the most widely used format for copying and distributing computer software.


Normally, the word "optical" refers to things that have to do with vision. Regarding computers, however, "optical" refers to the data that can be detected by a laser on an optical disc.


Compact discs (CDs) and digital versatile discs (DVDs) are two forms of media that can be read by optical drives. These discs are made up of millions of very small dips and bumps, which the lasers on the optical drive translate as ones and zeroes, which the computer can understand.


Optical drives are used on CD-ROMs, CD-RW (read/write), DVD-ROM, DVD-RW, and Blu-ray drives. On CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, the laser both reads from and writes to the optical drive.


Although optical drives spin quickly, they are slower than the magnetic storage systems used by hard drives.


Optical drives are widely used because they are removable and inexpensive.

About the Author

Susan Presley has worked in health care journalism since 2007, and has been published in the American Journal of Nursing and other academic periodicals. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Truman State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera laptop image by Du...¡an Zidar from Fotolia.com