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What’s the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R?

If you have downloaded movies from Internet or took family videos with cameras, more often than not you may want to convert videos to DVD for either viewing on home DVD player or long-term storage. When the idea comes across your mind, you may wonder what kind of DVD disc you need. DVD-R or DVD+R, what’s the difference between them? Should you go plus or minus? Read on and find the answer.


1. What’s DVD-R and DVD+R?

DVD-R: DVD-R is a DVD recordable format. A DVD-R typically has a storage capacity of 4.71 GB. Data on a DVD-R cannot be changed, whereas a DVD-RW (rewritable DVD) can be rewritten multiple (1000+) times.


DVD+R: DVD+R is a format for optical data storage. It is similar to, but incompatible with, the older DVD-R standard. A DVD+R is a write-once optical disc with 4.7 gigabytes (GB) of storage, generally used for non-volatile data storage or video applications.


(For more DVD format knowledge at: DVD Knowledge: what is DVD and which DVD format is best for you?)


2. Competing Formats

A DVD recordable format called DVD-RAM (DVD random access memory) predates DVD-R. Developed in 1996, DVD-RAM is a rewritable optical disc usually encased in a cartridge. Currently available in standard 4.7 GB, it is useful in applications that require quick revisions and rewriting. In 2002 a new format was developed called DVD+R (or 'plus' R). Created by a coalition called the DVD+RW Alliance, this format uses a number of improved technologies that, while generally unnoticeable to the end user, make a more reliable technology. One example is the ADIP (ADdress In Pregroove) system of tracking and speed control used by DVD+R being less susceptible to interference and error than the LPP (Land Pre Pit) system used by DVD-R, which makes the ADIP system more accurate at higher speeds. In addition, DVD+R(W) has a more robust error management system than DVD-R(W), allowing for more accurate writing to media independent of the quality of the media.


This new format, among other things, resulted in DVD-R being unofficially referred to as DVD 'minus' R (though in countries where British English is dominant, the term 'minus R' was already common; not just in contrast to 'plus R'). DVD-R and DVD+R technologies are not directly compatible, which created a format war in the DVD technology industry. To reconcile the two competing formats, manufacturers created hybrid drives that could read both – most hybrid drives that handle both formats are labeled DVD±R and Super Multi (which includes DVD-RAM support) and are very popular.


As of 2006, the market for recordable DVD technology shows little sign of settling down in favor of either the plus or dash formats, which is mostly the result of the increasing numbers of dual-format devices that can record to both formats; it has become very difficult to find new devices that can only record to one of the formats. However, because the DVD-R format has been in use since 1997, it has had a five-year lead on DVD+R. As such, older or cheaper DVD players (up to 2004 vintage) are more likely to favor the DVD-R standard exclusively.


3. What’s the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R?

From the introduction above, you may know the difference. Anyone who was around twenty years ago might remember the battle between the two video tape formats: VHS (Victor Home System) and Betamax (Sony). Fast forward to the twenty-first century and we have a similar battle of the formats with DVD.


The disks are pretty much the same, but the writing process is different. DVD+R is a bit more advanced, but the disks often cost more than the older DVD-R format. DVD+R was also intended to be compatible with more DVD players, but in all reality there’s not much of a difference.


4. Should I choose DVD-R or DVD+R?

As you can see there is no much difference between DVD-R and DVD+R disc, choose either one you like. As most DVD authoring software works for all kinds of DVD disc, there is nothing you need to worry about. Another thing to consider is what DVD format your DVD player works best in. Older DVD players may not be compatible DVD+R disc. Thus, personally, I would like to recommend DVD-R disc for its popular compatibilities.