DVD-R and DVD+R Explained

I have recently began archiving my digital pictures and videos, and would eventually begin archiving film, slides and other photographs. The collection and space requirements will be quite large as there is much to back up. I have decided to archive it all to multiple DVD discs. This got me to thinking about which discs to use for my archiving. Obviously, I want good quality discs (please read How Long Will a CD-R last? for more details) but I then thought about the two competing DVD standards: DVD-R and DVD+R.

I decided to research the two formats and determine which one I should choose for archiving. I explain my findings in this post.


The DVD-R format was developed in 1997 by Pioneer and is now supported by most DVD players and ahs the approval from the DVD Forum. The DVD Forum is an international organization composed of hardware, software, media and content companies that use and develop the DVD format. The correct pronunciation of this format is “DVD” dash “R”.

This format is compatible with most players and DVD-ROMs on the market so is a popular choice for creating videos or burning pictures. If you want to ensure compatibility, then go with this format.


In 2002, the DVD+RW Alliance, which consists of a group of electronic hardware, optical storage and software manufacturers, created a competing format called DVD+R. It also stores 4.7 GB of data, but unlike DVD-R, it has not been approved by the DVD Forum.

The biggest difference between this format and DVD-R format is hidden from the user. The DVD+R format uses the ADIP (Address in Pregroove) system of tracking and controlling the speed of the DVD. This is less susceptible to error than the LPP (Land Pre Pit) system used by DVD-R, which means the ADIP system is more accurate at higher speeds. The DVD+R format also has a more robust error management system, which allows more accurate burning independent of the quality of the media.

Since the DVD-R format came to the market five years before DVD+R, many of the older DVD players (pre-2004) aren’t compatible with the DVD+R format. If you can’t play a recordable DVD in a DVD player, this may be the reason.


After reviewing the two standards I have determined that for my day-to-day backups, pictures I burn for someone else, or home videos I will use the DVD-R discs. The reason for this is because there are more DVD players and DVD-ROMS compatible with this format.

Since the DVD+R has better a better error management system, can burn better at higher speeds I will use those for my archive backups. Since I will be the one using those discs, then I can ensure that the DVD-ROM will be compatible with DVD+R format.

If you would like to use either format, many DVD burners can write and read both formats. This makes it easier for you to use both formats without any problems.

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