What Is a DVD CD-RW Drive?

By Amanda Kondolojy

Updated February 10, 2017

i MorgueFile

Combination DVD CD-RW Drives are a common fixture in modern computer towers. These drives can function as a DVD reader, CD reader and CD writer. Although this might sound a little bit complicated, these drives are simple to use precisely because of their multiple functions. While older computers had separate drives for everything, these combination drives allow you to accomplish multiple tasks with a single drive, which makes them ideal for both the everyday computer user as well as technology enthusiasts.


CD-RW drives have three different functions: to read CDs, write CDs and read DVDs. This includes CD-ROMs as well as DVD-ROMs. These drives are perfect for installing programs from CD-ROMs, listening to audio CDs, burning audio and data CDs, and watching DVDs. The only thing that these drives cannot do is burn data or video DVDs.


You can tell if your computer has a DVD CD-RW by looking at the front of the drive. If it has the CD-RW functionality, you will see a small box with an "RW" in it with the letters CD above the box. You will also see a logo that says "DVD" on it, indicating that the drive plays DVDs. However, you will not see an "RW" symbol next to the DVD logo similar to the one identifying the CD-RW properties of the drive.


The biggest benefit of having a DVD CD-RW drive is its multiple functions. This drive is able to read all major types of digital media (except high resolution) and is therefore indispensable to the modern computer user. Having a DVD CD-RW drive is also advantageous because it is less expensive than DVD-RW drives, which only add DVD writing capability but can cost much more.


The difference between a CD-R and CD-RW drive is highly misunderstood. If you see a CD-R DVD drive, that means that you can write data onto specially formatted CD-Rs, but nothing else. DVD CD-RW drives, however, can write over all kinds of CDs, including high-density CD-RW discs. They are also capable of removing data as well as adding it.

Current Uses

DVD CD-RW drives are very common in modern desktop and laptop computers. Since they do not contain a DVD writing element, they are much cheaper to add, and it is rare to see a computer without a DVD CD-RW drive.