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DVD Burner: What is a DVD burner and why do I need one?

1. What is a DVD burner?

A DVD burner is a device used to encode or "burn" information onto a blank DVD. It refers to a unit that is either an external add-on or internal DVD drive for a PC or MAC (like a CDR/RW drive) that can record video, but can also read and write computer data and store it on a blank DVD disc. DVD Burners used in this manner are also sometimes referred to as DVD Writers.



2. Why do I need a DVD burner?

To use DVD authoring software to create a DVD-Video disc, a DVD burner must be installed on your computer. A DVD burner, also called a recordable DVD drive, can write video and other data to a recordable DVD disc. A DVD burner is different from a standard DVD-ROM drive since the DVD-ROM drive can only read from a disc and not write information to the disc.


A DVD burner can be installed internally or externally on your computer, depending on the type of DVD burner. Internal DVD burners are installed in one of the computer's drive bays. External DVD burners are stand-alone drives that are connected to your computer using a USB 2.0 connection, or in some cases, using an IEEE 1394 connection.


3. How can I tell if I have a CD burner or DVD burner?

If you have a DVD burner you will be able to burn DVDs and CDs. If you have just a CD burner you will only be able to write CDs.


  • On a Windows computer: generally you can tell what kind of burner you have simply by looking at the drive. If it’s a CD-RW drive, you’ll see the word CD-RW or CD-R or the phrase Compact Disk Re-writable marked on the front of the drive. If it’s a DVD burner, you’ll see DVD-RW or DVD-R or DVD+RW marked on the drive. If you can’t tell from looking at the drive, right click on My Computer and select properties. Then click on the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button. You’ll be able to tell what type of drive you have from the list of devices on your system.

  • On a Mac: go to the Apple menu and select About This Mac. Then click on More Info. This will launch the Apple System Profiler (ASP). Once ASP has finished starting up, look for the Hardware category and then select the Disc Burning sub category. Click on Disc Burning and tell you what type of drive you have.


4. What are DVD-ROM drives and RM drives?

• DVD-ROM drives

DVD-ROM is a newer standard than CD-ROM, able to read 7 times as much data off of a typical DVD disk (4.7 GB) as opposed to the measly 650MB a CD-ROM drive can read, and also able to play DVD movies with the proper decoding software or hardware. With fast video cards and processors today, you typically don’t need any special DVD decoding hardware to play DVD movies. Microsoft ships a software DVD movie player with Windows XP that works fine.


DVD-ROM drives can read CD-ROM disks, so if you have a DVD-ROM drive, you don’t need an extra CD-ROM drive. Please note that DVD-ROM drive isn’t able to burn DVDs.


• RW Drives

CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs and Blu-ray drives come in rewritable drive types. RW drives have all the functionality of their read-only counterparts but can also write data on the disk. While RW drives can write multiple times, writable disks come in one-time write (R) and multiple-time write (RW) variations.