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DVD FAQ

Do you have questions about DVDs? You’re in the right place. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about DVDs. Is your question still not answered? Contact us and we’ll try to help!

What are DVDs?

DVDs stands for Digital Versatile Disc, or Digital Video Disc. They are an optical media format like CDs. They look like flat discs with one shiny recordable surface; the other side can be printed for labels. They are used for storing video and program files. They are most often used to store movies. DVDs can store at least 7 times the amount of data than a CD even though they have similar dimensions.

When were DVDs invented?

In 1993, the DVD evolved from the CD. However, two competing formats decided to band together when a group of powerful computer companies (including Apple, HP, and Microsoft) stated that they would only accept one format. This was to prevent another format war like the one between VHS and Betamax in the 1980’s. In 1995, the combined versions of the two competing groups was created to make the DVD we know today. It was released to an American test audience in 1997.

How are DVDs made?

DVD discs are made by layering thin coats of plastic. All optical media is created the same and is then modified to suit its purpose. A substrate of hard plastic creates the disc base and then a reflective layer is added on top, usually made of aluminum. This is where the data is encoded. Next, a clear coat of polycarbonate protects this metallic foil layer and provides a medium for the laser to pass through, thus allowing it to be read.

How do DVDs work?

Microscopic pits are punched into the recordable surface, forming a landscape of pits and spaces between them. When these are read using a laser it translates into a binary code language (the 0’s and 1’s). This language translates to data. DVDs use a higher density of pits than CDs so the laser doesn’t have to work as hard to read it, thus allowing more information to be stored. The outer coating of a DVD is also thinner so that the laser can read the pits better. DVDs can also be double layered to create even more space for storage.

What are DVDs made of?

DVDs are mostly made of many layers of plastic, such as polycarbonate. The base disc shape is also made of plastic. Metallic layers add a reflective surface for the laser to read. This may be aluminum but also gold can be used for outer layers.

How do you clean CDs and DVDs?

Remove any dust with either an air cannister or a soft, lint free cloth. Make sure the cloth is also anti-static. Do not rub the cloth in circles; move from the inner hole outwards in a radiating motion. To clean, use a 1 to 1 solution of 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol with distilled water to wipe the disc from the inner hole outwards, again in a radiating motion. You only need a little bit of solution on the cloth (also should be lint free cotton or chamois). You can also try designated CD/DVD cleaning kits. Make sure you dry off the disc completely before use.

How do you store DVDs?

Your DVDs will remain clean and free of damage if they are stored properly. Keep them in designated jewel cases or DVD cases. Make sure they are secure in the disc hub spot so they cannot shift and break. Do not leave them in damp or hot conditions, or where they can get stepped on. Store them in cool dry places, avoiding lamps, heaters, and other sources of heat. Avoid leaving them in hot cars!

How do you dispose of CDs and DVDs?

Check out our handy page on CD and DVD recycling!

What do you do with old CDs and DVDs?

Want some ideas on what to do with your old CDs and DVDs? Check out our page on disc recycling! You could also try selling them or giving them to friends.

Are DVD cases recyclable?

DVD cases are made of plastics that cannot be recycled normally in your curbside pickup service. Most cities do not accept them, but a few do. Check with your city to see if they allow DVD cases to be recycled. There are other options, such as reusing or donating them. Check out our page on CD and DVD recycling to learn more.

How do you finalize a DVD?

Many burning programs already include a finalizing step (it’s the step at the end that with the button that says “Finalize” or “Done”), but some do require you to do this yourself. Click “My Computer” and then locate your DVD. Right click on it and select “Close Session.” A pop-up box will display once finalization is complete. You will see a message that indicates it is now safe to remove the disc from the drive.

What is DVD RW?

DVD-RW means Digital Versatile Disc ReWritable. It is a disc that can be rewritten many times. There are two types, DVD-RW and DVD+RW. The “minus” RW format was developed by Pioneer and can only be written to on one layer. It is supported by the DVD forum but is not an industry standard. They are cheaper than the “plus” format which is supported by Sony, HP, Dell, Microsoft, and Phillips. It can be written on multiple layers which gives them a little better performance and storage. They are more expensive than the “minus” format.

Can you play DVDs on PS4?

Yes, you can play standard DVDs and Blu-ray discs on the PS4. You just need to make sure to connect to the internet at least once before doing so. It does not support MP3 formats or streaming via DLNA.

Can you play DVDs on Xbox One?

Yes, you can play Blu-ray and DVD discs on Xbox One if they are sold in the same region as the console. For example, if you bought the console over seas but are trying to play a DVD from the USA, it will not work. Some discs do not have a region encoded or coded to all regions, so this is not an issue in some cases.

Will a Blu-ray player play regular DVDs?

Yes, a Blu-ray player should be able to play all standard DVDs and CDs. A few select models might be able to support specialized formats such as SACDs (Super Audio CDs).

Why won’t my laptop play DVDs?

First, make sure your laptop has hardware and software capable of playing DVDs. If your laptop is very old, it might not have these automatically enabled.

If this is not the issue, then make sure that your drivers are updated. If they are and it still will not play, uninstall and re-install them.

DVDs may not play in laptops that are sold in a different region than they are from. For example, if you bought your laptop overseas but bought the disc in the USA, they may not play.

If none of these issues are the cause, then it may be a hardware malfunction on your DVD drive. Replacement drives are relatively cheap and simple for most computer repair stores.

How to rip a DVD?

Technically, it is illegal to make copies of materials that are labeled as copyrighted for any reason. However, the government does not generally pay attention to people who copy discs they own for private use. They are more concerned with people who copy with the intent to redistribute. It is completely legal to rip a DVD of your own creation that is not copyrighted, however.

To rip a DVD using VLC Media Player (a free and open source media player and streaming service):

  1. Download VLC if you don’t already have it.
  2. Open VLC.
  3. Under the Media tab, click Convert/Save…
  4. Click on the Disc tab and choose the DVD option under Disc Selection.
  5. Choose the DVD drive location in the Disc Device selection.
  6. Click Convert/Save
  7. Select the parameters
  8. Click Browse and choose your destination and filename
  9. Click Save and then Start to begin the rip

How to burn a DVD?

You don’t need any new software to burn a DVD. You can simply use Windows Media Center which is included in Windows platforms.

  1. Go to Start > All Programs > Windows Media Center
  2. Insert blank DVD into DVD drive
  3. The program will ask if you want to burn an audio or data disc. If you don’t see a burn disc message, scroll to Tasks and choose Burn CD or DVD.
  4. Select Video DVD or DVD Slide Show option and then click next. Type in the name you want for the disc. Drag the file you want to burn to the DVD drive or tell the program where the files are when prompted.
  5. Choose between Videos, Recorded TV, Pictures, or Music and then hit Next. Choose Recorded TV so you can watch on your TV. The Media Center will show you a list of videos that are not protected. Select which ones you want.
  6. Click Burn DVD.
  7. It will ask you once more if you want to burn. Click Yes and wait for disc to finish burning.

What is the difference between a DVD and Blu-ray?

DVDs and Blu-ray are both optical media that can store data and audio files. They are very similar in size and dimensions. However, Blu-ray discs offer upgraded features, including better picture resolution, performance, and more storage space. Blu-ray discs can output 1080p definition compared with the standard 480p DVD. A Blu-ray can hold approximately 25GB of data compared to an ordinary DVD’s 4.7GB (single layer). Blu-ray players use shorter blue lasers which are shorter and therefore more precise. Blu-ray discs have a thinner protective coating than DVD discs but feature a hard coating that makes it harder to scratch.

What is DVD-R?

DVD-R stands for Digital Versatile Disc Recordable. It is one of the available recordable formats for the DVD platform. It is a write once only format; once data is burned onto the disc it cannot be erased. Learn more about DVD formats <here>!

How to fix a scratched DVD?

If your DVD is scratched, consider notifying the manufacturer. Sometimes they will exchange or replace your disc with another copy if you send in the damaged one, plus a small fee. If that is an option, you could try fixing the scratch but note that, even being careful, you could make the damage worse. Deep or circular scratches are irreversible.

Back up your data on another device, just in case. Then, completely wash and dry your hands so they are free of oil and dirt. If you have then, pull on a pair of latex gloves. Try cleaning the disc with a lint free cloth to see if that will resolve the issue. Clean from the center hub out in radiating spokes, not circular motions. Run the disc through a player to see if it’s resolved. If not, try the toothpaste method.

  1. After cleaning disc with warm water and mild soap, dry disc thoroughly with lint free cloth.
  2. Put a dab of toothpaste on the disc.
  3. Rub toothpaste in straight motion from center to outer rim in a radiating motion, not circular. Think of spokes on a wheel.
  4. Thoroughly wash toothpaste off and dry. Test disc.

Please note this won’t work for Blu-ray. Blu-ray have a hard coating that protects against scratches but once scratched they’re impossible to fix.

How big is a DVD?

A DVD is the same size as a CD. It has a 120mm diameter and is 1.2mm thick. They offer at least 4.7GB of space which is the same as 120 minutes of video. There are two varieties of DVD, a standard 12cm (specs above) and a MiniDVD which is 8cm.

How much data goes on a DVD?

A standard DVD disc can hold 4.7GB of data. A dual layer disc can hold 8.5GB.

Who invented the DVD?

The DVD was invented in a joint effort by several companies, including Toshiba, Phillips, Sony, and Time Warner in 1995. It was released to the United States in 1997.

What does region 1 or region 2 mean?

DVDs have region codes assigned to them and are a way to manage copyrights and international distribution easily. DVD players are region locked, meaning they will only play discs that are from their region. There are region free players on the market as well. DVDs can have more than one code, all codes, or no codes.

Region 1 is North and Central America.

Region 2 is Europe, Egypt, West Asia, Japan, South Africa, Greenland, and French Guinea.

Region 3 is Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Region 4 is South America and Oceania.

Region 5 is Africa (minus Egypt and South Africa), Russia, Central and South Asia, Mongolia, and North Korea.

Region 6 is Mainland China.

Region 7 are “media copies” of pre-releases in Asia and other MPAA related DVDs.

Region 8 is for international platforms like spacecraft, cruise ships, and aircraft.

ALL these discs have all regions available making it playable anywhere on any player.

What is 4K ultra HD DVD?

HD DVDs were a competing format with Blu-ray discs. They were owned by Toshiba who eventually pulled them from the market in 2008 to concede to the Blu-ray format. Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray discs are optical media discs that are superior to ordinary Blu-ray discs due to their support of 4K UHD video. 4K is a technology or content that offers extremely sharp visuals and image quality with a screen resolution of around 4000 pixels.

What is DVD RAM?

DVD-RAM means Digital Versatile Disc Random Access Memory. It is a rewritable format presented by the DVD Forum in 1996. It has a long life (estimated 30 years), is reliable, can be written over 100,000 times, has fast access to small files, wastes less space with small files, and does not require finalization. These factors make it very popular for archival, computer, and camcorder applications.

Can you burn music to a DVD?

Yes, you can burn music to a DVD using the MP3 file format (MP4 is for video). The problem is when you try to play it on a device. A CD player will not be compatible with a DVD disc. Also, many DVD players, including Blu-ray and HD, do not support DVD-audio. Playback should work on a PC however.