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What Is the Difference Between DVD-R and DVD+R?

Although it can be said that the demand for DVDs is diminishing with the advent of online streaming, they are still being used today. A single-layer DVD has the capacity of holding up to 4.7 GB, which is about 7 times more data than a top-quality CD. Just like its predecessor, a DVD allows you to record, erase and re-record data on the disk. 

However, buying a blank DVD can be confusing since there are many different formats available in the digital media ecosystem. The two most common formats in the market are DVD-R and DVD+R. The ‘R’ here refers to ‘recordable’, meaning both can be used to write data only once and read data arbitrarily several times. Hence ‘R’ format discs are suitable for non-volatile data storage, audio, video etc. 

Both DVD-R and DVD+R discs look the same on the surface; they are both 1.2 mm in thickness and 120 mm in diameter. The difference lies in how the data is read on the disc. This is important In DVD recorders as data can only be recorded on a disc if the device supports its format. It is not as significant in the case of DVD players as both formats are compatible with most modern players. 

Neo-Online sheds some light on the main differences between DVD-R and a DVD+R below.


Released in 1997, the DVD-R standard was developed by Pioneer. It is supported by the DVD Forum, an industry group that holds authority over the use of the DVD logo. Companies that support this format also include Apple, Panasonic, Hitachi and Toshiba. 

On the other hand, DVD+R was introduced by Sony and Philips in the year 2002. Other companies that support this format include Yamaha, Ricoh, Dell, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. All these formed the DVD+RW Alliance. 

However, it is important to note that most companies now develop hybrid DVD drives that support both formats. Thus, the industry groups that used to promote their respective technologies do not hold much significance anymore like before. 

Technical Standard

As mentioned before, the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R is in how they determine the location of the laser beam on the disc. A DVD-R disc uses ‘land prepits’, which are small marks on the disc’s grooves. In contrast, a DVD+R disc measures the ‘wobble frequency’ when the laser processes it. 

Recording Quality and Speed

DVD+R is superior to DVD-R in terms of burning quality and speed. The operating systems used by DVD+R are less vulnerable to errors, which makes the burning process quicker and more accurate. In addition, DVD+R has a much better error-management system than its counterpart. 


When they were first released, DVD+R discs used to be pricier than DVD-R discs. Today, however, there is only a minimal difference in their prices (with quality DVD-R discs still being the cheaper option). 


Almost all newly-built DVD players support both formats. As DVD-R was developed earlier, it has better compatibility, particularly when it comes to the old DVD players. On the other hand, DVD+R comprises more advanced technology, so it has better compatibility with newer models of DVD players. 


Dual-layer discs that have the capacity of about 8.5 GB were first available in the DVD+R format. Even today, there are more double-layer discs in the DVD+R format than the DVD-R one.

DVD+R also provides several other advantages in comparison to DVD-R. For instance, a DVD+R recorder has the ability to record a disc partially on PC and partially on TV. While the disc is being formatted, you can record on its already-formatted portions at the same time. You can also edit the names of files, film and song titles, and playlists.  DVD+R format drives can also be ejected instantly, not having to wait for the final formatting. 

In a Nutshell

Picture of a DVD+R CD

The major differences between the two formats are summarised as follows.

Backed By DVD+RW Alliance DVD Forum
Storage Capacity
  • Single-layer DVD+R discs: 4488 MB
  • Dual-layer DVD+R discs: 8.5 GB
  • Single-layer DVD-R discs: 4488 MB
  • Dual-layer DVD-R discs: 8.5 GB
Compatibility Virtually all DVD players Virtually all DVD players
Layers Dual-layer DVD+R discs are more widely available  Dual-layer DVD-R discs are available in less variety
Drag & Drop Feature Supported Not supported
Error Management Checks for errors while recording Does not check for errors while recording
Cost More expensive Less expensive

As technology gets more advanced, the differences between the two formats become almost negligible. Most drives in the market currently support both DVD+R and DVD-R. However, you can still check which format is supported by your recorder before making any purchase. 

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