What are the Different Types of Recordable Discs?

Phil Shepley

The compact disc, or CD, began its rise to popularity in the early 1980s and quickly became a popular medium for commercial audio recordings. In addition to being used for music, the compact disc eventually evolved so that it had the ability to be used for recording data as well. Today, there are several other types of recordable discs, and each has its own characteristics.

CD-RWs are popular because they can be erased and reused.
CD-RWs are popular because they can be erased and reused.

The first to become popular was the CD-R. In this type of disc, the data can only be stored once and will have a life span as short as 18 months or as long as 100 years. Eventually, CD-RWs gained popularity, since these are compact discs that have the ability to be erased and used to store data more than just once. Both CD-Rs and CD-RWs are widely used because they can hold much more data than a floppy disc, as well as being versatile and able to be used for a wide variety of data including music, pictures, and video.

Floppy discs have become an outdated mode of storing data.
Floppy discs have become an outdated mode of storing data.

Eventually the DVD, or “Digital Video Disc,” became popular along with its own versions of recordable discs, which were even more versatile and capable of holding much more data than a standard CD or CD-RW. The main two types of recordable DVDs are DVD+Rs and DVD-Rs, which can only be recorded on once. Those that can be recorded and erased upon more than once are known as DVD+RWs, DVD-RWs and DVD-RAMs. These are most popularly known for their use for recorded movies, and use dual layer technology in order to allow for a great amount of space for data.

The technology still continues to grow, as does the speed and storage capacity of these media. The types of discs that are gaining popularity today are Blu-ray® Recordable discs, also known as BD-Rs that can be recorded on once, and BD-REs, which can be recorded on multiple times. These discs hold much more information and record at much higher speeds than their predecessors, and will likely be followed by faster media with even more space to record data.

Jewel cases may be used to prevent scratching of recordable discs.
Jewel cases may be used to prevent scratching of recordable discs.

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Discussion Comments


I haven't made the switch to Blu-Ray recordable discs from DVDs yet, but I likely will in the future. I am behind the times, but that is just because I can't afford a Blu-Ray player right now. I am sticking to my DVD player until it either wears out or no one makes DVDs anymore!


At work, we use DVD-R recordable discs to store old files. When our server just gets too full to hold anything else, we will transfer the files from two years ago onto these discs.

We keep them organized alphabetically and store them in a central location. Anyone in the office who needs to access the older files simply has to pop in the disc.

I was amazed at how much one DVD-R can hold. My friend told me that this is why we switched from using CDs to DVDs.


CD recordable discs are great for storing music that you download online. I have made several CDs from songs I purchased at an online store, and the quality is great.

I have a CD player in my car, but I don't have any sort of MP3 player that I can hook up. So, I just make the CDs, because it is the easiest way for me to listen to music while driving to work.

I've even copied some of my favorite CDs this way in case they ever get destroyed or lost. I like having backup copies of my favorite music.


I used to use DVD recordable discs before I finally got a DVR. I loved how I could record over previous programs on the discs instead of having to use a new one every time.

DVD-RWs were pretty affordable, too. I remember setting my CD player to record my favorite shows onto these discs. I felt like I was so high-tech at the time, because I had recently graduated from using cassette tapes and a VCR!

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