What Is the Difference in DVD+ & DVD-?

by Lou Martin

Depending on your computer’s capabilities, you are likely limited to using a DVD- or DVD+ formatted disc when saving data from your computer to a DVD disc. The main difference between these types of DVD formats is their writing speeds, internal linking and drag-and-drop capabilities. Besides these facets, DVD- and DVD+ discs hold the same amount of data and are comprised of two subclasses that indicate the amounts of times they can be written to.

DVD- Discs

DVD- discs come in two formats: DVD-R and DVD-RW. You can write data to a DVD-R disc only once, meaning once you have copied data to the disc, it remains in that state and you cannot write data to it again. A DVD-RW disc, on the other hand, allows you to erase and save data to it hundreds of times. Every time you use a DVD-RW disc, it adds or deletes data in accordance with what you are saving or deleting from the computer. If you are saving a file or folder with the same name as a file or folder on the disc, it will overwrite the file or folder.

DVD+ Discs

Like DVD- discs, DVD+ discs come in two formats: DVD+R and DVD+RW. These DVD formats also let you write data either once -- DVD+R-- or hundreds of times -- DVD+RW. DVD+ discs provide faster writing speeds, better internal linking and allow you to drag and drop files and folders to copy them to the disc, similar to how a flash drive works. DVD+R discs are compatible with more DVD players than DVD+RW discs are, making them the preferred disc for saving video content that is intended to be viewed on a DVD player. DVD-R discs, however, are compatible with more computers than DVD+R discs.


In spite of their technical differences, DVD- and DVD+ discs have similarities, including capacity, dimensions and the methods used to save data. DVD- and DVD+ discs are the same size, hold 4.7GB of data and facilitate laser technology to burn data to the disc. Computers equipped with DVD- drives are not compatible with DVD+R or DVD+RW discs and computers equipped with DVD+ drives are not compatible with DVD-R or DVD-RW discs.


As a rule, DVD-R and DVD+R discs are better for situations in which the data being saved is not likely to change, such as backing up family photos. DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs are better, however, for situations where the data being saved is likely to change, such as expense reports or journal entries. DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs are more expensive than DVD-R and DVD+R discs.

About the Author

Lou Martin has been writing professionally since 1992. His work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Times," the "Long Beach Press-Telegram" and the "Deseret Morning News." Martin holds a Bachelor of Science in history and communication.

Photo Credits

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