By: Robert Neagoe
3 minute read
DVD - types, formats, capacity and useful tools

DVD stands for “digital video disc” or “digital versatile disc” and it is an optical disc storage format, invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic in 1995. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than Compact Discs while having the same dimensions.

Pre-recorded DVDs are mass-produced using molding machines that physically stamp data onto the DVD. Such discs are known as DVD-ROM because data can only be read and not written nor erased. Blank recordable DVD discs can be recorded once using a DVD recorder and then function as a DVD-ROM.

DVD drives are devices that can read DVD discs on a computer. DVD players are a particular type of devices that do not require a computer to work and can read DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs.

What are the types of DVD, formats, and disc capacity?

The basic types of DVD are referred to by a rough approximation of their capacity in gigabytes, the number of layers and whether they are single/double-sided. DVDs are available in various formats, depending on how you can store data on them. Each format supports different capacities. This table from Wikipedia shows 9 types of DVD and their capacities.

DVD types and capacity

The most common DVD formats are classified upon data written allowance:

  • DVD+R and DVD-R: (Standard Format) One-time only written.
  • DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW: You can write on, erase and re-write on multiple times.
  • DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL: Double-layered DVDs have a lower writing speed.

DVD-Video: quality and storage capacity

You can store video content at different levels of quality, as the DVD-Video format is quite flexible. Also, the number of minutes of audio and video that can be stored on a writable DVD disc varies considerably.

The DVD-Video format supports one mainstream of video (MPEG-1, MPEG-2), up to eight streams of audio (Dolby Digital, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, LPCM, DTS, SDDS), a maximum of 32 subpicture streams (graphics overlay) as well as navigation menus and other extras.

Depending on the number of features incorporated, type of audio and video compression used, and the basic capacity of the disc, you can estimate the amount of material that can be recorded on the DVD.

For example, a single-sided 4.7 GB disc holds roughly one hour of straightforward audio and video at maximum DVD quality or just as much as 9 hours of VHS quality material.

Convert Video to DVD format

If you have some old recorded VHS movies gathering dust you definitely need to convert to digital DVD format. For this specific case, find the complete guide in our article that covers 3 ways to convert analog video movies to DVD.

On the other side, if you want to convert DVD to a digital file, you need to use a DVD ripper program. This software can convert a DVD or BD (Blu-ray Disc) video/movie into a file. Plus, you get to back up the converted digital file to keep it safe. For this reason, we have compiled the best DVD to digital converters you need to check out.

Burning DVD software and free tools

Windows 10 has a very good built-in burning feature, which will burn your DVDs fast, but it gives you only the basic options and sometimes won’t work properly. Check out this troubleshooting guide in case Windows DVD Maker fails to burn on Windows 10.

For more burning options, it’s better to install some third-party burning software. You have the option to pay for advanced features of a dedicated software, like Nero, or check out this list of best free burning programs for Windows, and choose the one that fits your needs.

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