What Is a DVD-RW Drive?

There are several different types of computer drives on the market today. Often times, it can be confusing choosing a drive that will work best for you and understanding what each drive does. You have many seen many computers or drives with the label DVD-RW branded onto them.

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Optical Drives

A Slot Loading DVD-RW Laptop Drive

There are two main types of drives that your computer uses. The first is a hard drive which is used for storage, and the second is an optical drive used to read CDs and DVDs. A DVD-RW drive is an optical drive. On a desktop computer, the DVD-RW drive will normally be located on the front-upper portion of the case. On a laptop computer, the DVD-RW drive will normally be located along the side of the base.


A DVD-RW Drive

All optical drives have different capabilities. When referring to a DVD-RW drive, the "DVD-RW" branding stands for DVD-Re-Writable. Simply put, this means that the drive will accept and burn DVD discs. Aside from burning information to the disc, a DVD-RW drive also has the capability to erase the disc.

A DVD-RW drive will accept and work with the following disc types: CD-R, CD-RW DVD-R, and DVD-RW.

DVD-RW Variations and Capacity

Dual Layer DVD Disc

Take note of the fact that there are two variations of a DVD-RW drive. The first variation is DVD-RW (notice the - sign). The second variation is DVD+RW (notice the + sign).

A DVD-RW drive can only burn DVDs to a depth of one layer.

A DVD+RW drive can burn DVDs to a depth of 2 layers, or dual layer.

Dual layer DVDs have a larger storage capacity than single layer DVDs.


Chances are that if you are buying a pre-configured computer, it will already come with a DVD+RW drive. Currently, Blu-Ray burners have become increasingly popular, and may eventually replace the DVD-R drives. If you are planning on getting a new DVD-RW burner for your computer, consider the above information before you buy.



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