Recordable DVDs and CDs - A Perspective on Formats and Compatibility


New Member
At the request of several of my friends, I wrote this article. I encourage your review, constructive comment, correction, and enhancements.


Over the recent several months, I've done a bit of research and experimentation. Here are some main points on recordable DVDs (and CDs) and some related issues. My summary of all these issues appears below.

A massive evolution of many simultaneous technology paths is the primary reason why the generic DVD on a "recordable" media does not play (or play well) on older or common DVD players. This simple problem has a complex history, and has evolved over a very few years (which most people would ignore and only casually wonder about). In a few years to come, the DVD and CD "format wars" will shake out and this will all be "irrelevant history".

Copying commercial movies and music. The entertainment studios are going absolutely nuts designing the most complex and elaborate kinds of copy protection to prevent you from copying a movie; they work to improve this on an hourly basis using the best physical and mathematical schemes that their genius programmers can possibly think of. Sony is the one of the most aggressive of all of the studios in this respect, but others are not far behind. All DVD copying utilities (except for those that have built-in copy-protection defeating) cannot copy commercial movies. Several products (none of which are produced in the US for legal reasons) are available for defeating the studio copy protection. The prominently successful ones are DVD-43 (for free) and ANYDVD (for purchase), both from Slysoft in Antigua. For international region considerations, DVD-43 and ANYDVD will remove the region limitations as well. Installing either of them on a PC with a writeable DVD drive allows the myriad of DVD (and CD) copying programs work as if the original media is neither copy-protected nor region limited.

There is ongoing litigation which challenges a DVD or CD owner's right to make a useable backup copy from one that s/he purchases, which is based upon all previous copyright infringement legislation worldwide. The argument of the litigation is (as always) based upon the ability to mass-produce media illegally (intellectual property rights infringement) vs having a legitimate backup copy for media that goes bad (which is also a part of international copyright law). Read the next paragraph to see why you should make backup copies of a DVD or CD which you simply and utterly cannot afford to lose!!

Frailness of a CD or DVD. They are far worse than vinyl records, VCR tapes, or audio tapes !!! The top surface (of most) is a label, and the bottom surface is recorded. A laser has to read the surface of the disc with extreme digital accuracy ... far more than with the above-mentioned much older analog media. So absolute cleanliness of the readable surface is utterly paramount. Oil from your fingers, left uncleaned for a while, will etch the plastic permanently and will ruin a CD or a DVD beyond recovery. On dual-sided media, both surfaces are recorded so you can see no label ... each side has this susceptibility to permanent damage.

If you have problems reading one, the best remedy is to carefully and gently wash both sides in lukewarm water with mild dishwashing liquid, thoroughly rinse it, and then completelyl dry it with paper towels. In rare cases where intense gummy deposits are there, combining WD-40 (seriously!) with the dishwashing liquid is even more effective, as long as it is thoroughly rinsed clean and then dried clean.

Bottom Line: If someone burns a DVD for you and you can't read it, either spend the money (or download the firmware) to upgrade your burner or player, save the DVD and wait until you do that, throw the DVD in the trash and forget it, or ask the person who burned it to use "the other format" (-R versus +R). The compatibility will disappear over time whether you take action and spend money or not (because eventually your old player will be replaced by one that is has more compatibility). In every case, you are the victim of rapid technology evolution, as I explain in more detail below.

Common Features:

+R and -R are recordable only once. +RW and -RW are re-recordable.
Single-layer technologies (when you buy blanks in stores) can hold 4 GB, which is half of what commercial movies take (8 GB). That is why DVD copying programs for movies have many different kinds of compression and editing techniques, and other abilities to eliminate sound tracks in languages you don't care about, or multiple audio format when you only need one, or still yet, subtitles (in multiple languages) when you only want one or none of them.
The +R/RW and -R/RW formats are currently in intense competition with each other, both searching for who becomes the winner. Burning drives produced since 2003 pretty much handle both formats.

DVD+R (mid-2002) and DVD+RW (Fall 2001)

Major supporters: Philips, Sony, HP, Dell, Ricoh, Yamaha. Not supported by the DVD forum (international standards organization).
Characteristics: Similar to CD-R. Can be read by most commercial DVD-ROM players. Based on CD-RW. Originally intended for computer recording, it was introduced without the intent for home video, but has been used for it.
Limitations. They have the same format recognition problems as with DVD-RW.

DVD-R (1997), DVD-RW (Dec 1999 in Japan; Spring 2001 in US)

Major supporters: First released in 1997 by Pioneer. Supported by Panasonic, Toshiba, Apple, Hitachi, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, and the DVD Forum.
Characteristics: Similar to CD-R and DVD+R. Can be read by most commercial DVD-ROM players. Organic-dye technology; phase-change eraseable format. Root technology for the professional "DVD Recorder".
Limitations. Some drives and players are confused the DVD-RW thinking it is a dual-layer disc. In others it won't read the format or recognize the disc; problems are usually solved by generally free firmware upgrades on the drives and players.

DVD-RAM (1998 )

Characteristics: Can be recorded and erased repeatedly. Compatible only with DVD-RAM rplayers.
Packaging: Typically housed in cartridges

DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL (dual-layer)

Major supporters: Dell, HP, Verbatim, Philips, Sony, Yamaha.
Characteristics: Dual layer technology can hold 8 GB. Double-sided dual layer (called DVD-18 ) can hold 16 GB. Has two individual recordable layers on a single-sided DVD disc. Also called "double layer" in the consumer market. DVD-R DL is also called DVD-R9.


Characteristics: High Definition DVD (generic terminology and short for the two competing standards which are Blue-ray and AOD). The HD-DVD format wars have just begun. The discs which are just now appearing for sale in the stores are the first of many generations yet to come; good luck finding a player which is compatible and affordable !!
Blu-ray. Holds 25 GB data on single layer and 50 GB data on dual layer. 50 GB records 9 hours of HD or 23 hours of SD video. Developed by Sony, Samsung, Sharp, Thomson, Hitachi, Matsushita (Panasonic), Pioneer, Philips, Mitsubishi, and LG.

AOD (Advanced Optical Disc). 20 GB on single layer and 30 GB on dual layer. Developed by Toshiba and NEC.
DVD-ROM. Video or game content is burned once and will run on any DVD-ROM device.

Failed Formats. Other formats which were supplanted that have never appeared are AS-MO (MO7) at 6 GB, and NEC's MVDisc or MMVF at 5.2 GB.

Multi-format burners. In 2003, Sony introduced the multi-format burner (combo), which has since been adopted by many manufacturers. Most PC drives today are mult-format burners, most particularly in the last two years.

General Incompatibilities. None of the writeable formats are fully compatible with each other. Recordable disks of different formats have different reflectivity than do pressed (commercial) disks that you buy in a store. Not all players have been designed to read them:

The bottom line between burned DVDs and commercial players is this:
DVD-R and DVD+R work in 85% of existing drives and players.
DVD-RW and DVD+RW work in 70% of existing drives and players.
Which one? If I were to walk into a computer store and had a choice to make, I will choose -R over +R because -R is simply older and thus more likely to be most compatible. There is no reason to buy +RW or -RW, because blank DVDs are dirt cheap. Of course, now that you have read this far, you will see that this is not a criteria for which there is only one answer.

This situation is steadily improving, and incompatibilities should disappear in a few years.

I hope this helps your overall understanding.

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Well-Known Member
The prominently successful ones are DVD-43 (for free) and ANYDVD (for purchase), both from Slysoft in Antigua.
I had no idea that DVD43 was also made by Slysoft. Wonder why DVD43 and AnyDVD conflict with each other, in that case?


New Member
I had no idea that DVD43 was also made by Slysoft. Wonder why DVD43 and AnyDVD conflict with each other, in that case?


Apparently I was incorrect (my apologies).

(1) If it once was, it is no longer free, but is trial software (30 days).
(2) Its publisher is advertised to be:

Fengtao Software Inc.
No.38, Haidian Dajie,
Haidian Dist,
Beijing, China.

(3) It was first released in late 2003, and appears to have been maintained through December 2006, and covers through Windows Vista.
(4) The publisher's URL is:
(5) The publisher's server is located in Canada.
(6) The publisher's product is retail US$80, current discount US$50.