Guide to Optical Disk Drives and Optical Discs

Guide to Optical Disk Drives and Optical Discs



This article provides compatibility information about the various types of optical disk drives (ODD) and different types of discs that can be used, types of discs that are compatible with different drives, types of discs that can be used in a computer, car stereo or home players and helpful information to avoid playback or recording issues.

Optical Disk Drive (ODD)

An optical disk drive (ODD) in a computer system allows you to use CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs to listen to music or watch a movie. Most drives also allow you to write data to a disc, so you can create your own music CDs, video DVDs or even create of back-up copy of your important data files.

Dell Desktop and Notebook computer can come with several types of optical disk drives. Optical disk drives come in two variants determined by the disc loading mechanisms that they use:

  1. Tray Load drive - In a tray-loading mechanism, the disc is placed onto a motorized tray, which moves in and out of the computer.
  2. Slot Load drive - In a slot-loading mechanism, the disc is slid into a slot and the motorized rollers inside the drive are used to move the disc in and out.

CD-ROM

Compact Disk - Read Only Memory drives were among the first disk-based drives for modern personal computers. These are like regular CDs but contain read-only media such as music, data files or software. CD-ROM drives read only CD-DA (audio) discs, CD-ROM (data) discs, and (usually) CD-R/CD-RW writable discs. The maximum storage capacity of a typical CD-ROM is around 700MB.

CD-R or CD-RW

CD-R or CD-RW drives are also called CD writers, CD burners, or CD recorders can read the same formats as CD-ROM drives CD-DA, CD-ROM, and CD-R/RW discs but can also write data to inexpensive CD-R (write-once) and CD-RW (rewritable) discs.

Note: Write speeds are typically slower than read speeds to maintain stability; write processes are highly sensitive to shock and can corrupt the disk beyond repair when forcibly interrupted. While RW drives can write multiple times, writable disks come in one-time write (R) and multiple-time write (RW) variations.

DVD-ROM

Digital Versatile Disk-Read Only Memory drives are the direct evolution from CD-ROM drives. DVDs had greater capacity and performance. DVD-ROM drives can read CD-DA, CD-ROM, and CD-R/RW discs, but they also read DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, and (sometimes) DVD-Audio discs.

DVD+/-RW

DVD writers typically do it all, they both read and write both CDs and DVDs. All current DVD writers can write DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, and DVD-RW discs interchangeably. Most models can also write dual-layer DVD+R DL and/or DVD-R DL discs which store about 8.5 GB rather than the 4.7 GB capacity of standard single-layer discs.

Note: Although DVD+R and DVD+RW (the plus formats) are technically superior to DVD-R and DVD-RW (the minus formats), the robust error detection and correction features of the DVD-R/RW drive are equally important. DVD+R/RW discs maybe incompatible with some older DVD players. Early DVD+RW and DVD+R recorders could not write to DVD-R(W) discs and vice versa.
Note: Write speeds are typically slower than read speeds to maintain stability; write processes are highly sensitive to shock and can corrupt the disk beyond repair when forcibly interrupted. While RW drives can write multiple times, writable disks come in one-time write (R) and multiple-time write (RW) variations.

Blu-ray

Blu-ray drives are the latest optical drives available. Blu-ray drives are typically reserved for devices with high-definition display capabilities, including high-end computers and the PlayStation 3 video game console. Blu-ray drives and disks can process extremely large amounts of data: Blu-ray disks have a standard capacity of 25 GB but can store more than 50 GB of data on a Blu-ray Dual Layer disc.

Note: Write speeds are typically slower than read speeds to maintain stability; write processes are highly sensitive to shock and can corrupt the disk beyond repair when forcibly interrupted. While RW drives can write multiple times, writable disks come in one-time write (R) and multiple-time write (RW) variations.

Optical drive and optical disc compatibility chart

Depending on the type of optical disk drive installed on your Dell computer there are different disc options available for storing data. The chart below shows the compatibility matrix between different types of optical disk drives and discs.

Optical Disc Drive Type Pre-recorded CD CD-R Disc CD-RW Disc Pre-recorded DVD DVD-R/RW Disc DVD+R/RW Disc Pre-recorded BD BD-R Disc BD-RE Disc BD-R (DL) Disc BD-RE (DL) Disc
CD-ROM Read Only Read Only Read Only
CD-R Read Only Read & Write Read Only
CD-RW Read Only Read & Write Read & Write
DVD-ROM Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only
DVD-R Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read Only
DVD-RW Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read Only
DVD+R Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read Only Read & Write
DVD+RW Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read Only Read & Write
BD-ROM Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only Read & Write Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only Read Only
BD-R Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read Only Read Only Read Only
BD-RE Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read Only
BD-R (Dual Layer) Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read Only
BD-RE (Dual Layer) Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read Only Read & Write Read & Write Read & Write Read & Write
Table 1: Optical Drive and Disc compatibility chart.
Disc Description Disc Type Recordable Playback in Computer Playback in Car Stereo Playback in Home DVD/Blu-ray Player
BD-ROM Blu-ray Disc - Read Only Memory Read Only No Yes
Requires Blu-ray drive and software that is Blu-ray compatible.
No Yes
Blu-ray disc players only.
BD-R Blu-ray Disc - Recordable Write Once Yes
Requires a Blu-ray drive.
Yes
Requires Blu-ray drive and software that is Blu-ray compatible.
No Yes
Blu-ray disc players only.
BD-RE Blu-ray Disc - Rewritable Rewritable Yes
Requires a Blu-ray drive.
Yes
Requires Blu-ray drive and software that is Blu-ray compatible.
No Yes
Blu-ray disc players only.
HD DVD High-Definition DVD Pre-recorded Disc Yes
Requires a HD-DVD compatible drive.
Yes
Requires a HD-DVD compatible drive and software capable of reading HD-DVD discs. May also require HDCP compliant monitors.
No Yes
HD-DVD compatible players only.
DVD-ROM DVD - Read Only Memory Read Only No Yes
For DVD movie playback, compatible software and codec are required.
No Yes
DVD or Blu-ray players only.
DVD-R DVD - Recordable Write Once Yes
Requires a DVD-R capable drive.
Yes No Yes
Some home DVD players may not be compatible with DVD-R discs.
DVD+R DVD + Recordable Write Once Yes
Requires a DVD+R capable drive.
Yes No Yes
Some home DVD players may not be compatible with DVD+R discs.
DVD-RW DVD - Rewritable Rewritable Yes
Requires a DVD-RW capable drive.
Yes No Yes
Some home DVD players may not be compatible with DVD-RW discs.
DVD+RW DVD + Rewritable Rewritable Yes
Requires a DVD+RW capable drive.
Yes No Yes
Some home DVD players may not be compatible with DVD+RW discs.
VCD Video Compact Disc Video CD Movie No Yes
Requires a compatible software and codec to be installed on the computer.
No Yes
Most home VCD, DVD and Blu-ray players are compatible, however, cannot be used on Audio CD players.
CD-ROM Compact Disc-Read Only Memory Read Only No Yes Yes Yes
Most home VCD, DVD and Blu-ray players are compatible, however, cannot be used to read data files.
CD-R Compact Disc - Recordable Write Once Yes Yes Yes Yes
Data files can only be read on computers.
CD-RW Compact Disc - Rewritable Rewritable Yes Yes No No
Table 2: Disc compatiblity chart
Note: Home or Car Audio or VCD players, DVD players and Blu-ray players cannot read data files (doc, xls, txt, exe, etc). Some devices may support data discs that contain audio or video files of certain types (mp3, wav, avi, mp4, mpeg, etc.) or even picture files (jpg, jpeg, bmp, etc.). Refer to the User Manual of the device or contact the device manufacturer for more information on supported file types.

Helpful information to avoid playback/recording issues

  • Avoid leaving the disc tray open when it is not in use.
  • Avoid cleaning with a wet or damp cloth. Use disc cleaning kits that are specifically made to clean optical drives which available commercially.
  • Avoid loading a smaller sized disc into a slot-load optical disk drive, use standard sized discs. The slot-load optical disk drive may not be able to hold the smaller disc and could cause damage to the internals of the drive and the disc.
  • Avoid touching the lens of the optical disk drive.
  • Hold discs by their edges, never let the disc slide across any surface as this may cause scratches.
  • Never leave them out in the open, especially in direct sunlight.
  • Extreme temperature could cause the discs to bend slightly which may cause loud noise inside the disc drive or even cause damage within the drive.
  • Re-Writable (RW) discs are designed to be written many times and many devices will not be able to read the data. Re-Writable (RW) disc should ideally be used only on one computer.
  • Try R (Recordable) or RW (Rewritable) discs from different manufacturers if one fails.
  • Try recording at slower speed to resolve issues with recording/writing to a disc.
  • Ensure that the type of disc you purchase, matches the drive type (DVD+R discs should be used with DVD+R drives, DVD-R discs should be used with DVD-R drives. DVD+R, DVD-R or DVD+RW (Single/Dual Layer) can be used on computers with DVD+/-RW DL (Dual Layer) drive).

For any issue with the CD, DVD or Blu-ray drive on your computer, refer to the Dell knowledgebase article Troubleshooting CD/DVD or Blu-Ray Drive Problems in Microsoft Windows.






Article ID: SLN301120

Last Date Modified: 10/01/2018 10:12 AM


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