What is a Recordable Disc?

Mary McMahon

A recordable disc or recordable disk, depending on regional preferences, is a data storage device which can be written to, in contrast with a read-only disc, which can only be read, not altered. There are a number of different styles of recordable disc on the market, including recordable CDs and DVDs, along with devices which have been designed to write to these discs. Many computers come with a CD or DVD burning capacity, thanks to the popularity of these data storage formats.

Data stored on a recordable disc can usually be played using a DVD or Blu-ray player.
Data stored on a recordable disc can usually be played using a DVD or Blu-ray player.

The idea behind a recordable disc is that a user can put any information he or she wants onto the disc. For example, someone could use a recordable disc to make a mixed CD for a friend with a selection of favorite sounds, or a DVD to store a visual presentation so that the DVD can be played in an office or classroom. On the packaging, a recordable disc is identified with the letter “R” for recordable, and recordable discs are generally sold blank, allowing users to record their data as desired.

Some recordable discs can only be written to once, at which point the data is fixed, and cannot be changed. Others are designed to be reusable, with a disc medium which can be wiped clean and written over by a computer. These discs are known as “rewritable,” and they are identified with the legend “RW”, as in “CD-RW.” Rewritable recordable discs can be extremely useful for people who want more flexibility in their data storage, and for people who may want the ability to erase and write over sensitive data.

Most computers can read recordable and rewritable discs with ease. However, some other devices may have trouble. Older stereos, for example, can usually cope with CD-Rs, but they may have trouble with CD-RWs. Likewise, DVD players sometimes have difficulty reading DVD-RWs. If a recordable disc is being prepared for someone else, it can be a good idea to avoid using a rewritable, in case that person is planning to use older equipment to access the information on the disc.

Some recordable discs are designed for very specific purposes. Several companies, for example, manufacture blank audio CDs which have been designed for audio playback, and it is also possible to find DVDs which have been customized for movies. One advantage of such discs is that they often indicate the number of minutes of storage space they have, so people do not need to guess about whether or not a set of songs or a movie will fit on the disc.

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Discussion Comments


What is the difference between - and + on DVD and CD disc?


What is the difference between a CD-R and a CD+R, also DVD-RW and a DVD+RW?

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