What Does a DVD +/- RW Combo Mean?


DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disc, a type of optical media used as a portable storage device, most commonly for storing and distributing feature films and computer software. A DVD drive can be compatible with a range of disc types.

Recordable DVDs

  • A blank DVD is usually labeled as "DVD-R" or "DVD+R," two competing formats. It can store up to 4.7 gigabytes of data, whereas most CDs can only contain up to 700 megabytes of data.


  • "RW" means that the DVD is a re-writeable disc. Unlike a DVD-R, you can erase this disk and put different information on it.

New Formats

  • Like DVD-R and DVD+R, there is DVD-RW and DVD+RW. When they were first introduced, a DVD drive was only compatible with one type of RW disc, but now most RW drives can both read and record.

Plus and Minus Signs

  • Therefore, a drive labeled as "DVD+/-RW" can read and record both types of re-writable discs. The slash sign means "or." It's sometimes called a "combo" drive.


  • Such a combo drive is also compatible with CD-R and CD-RW disks. There is no "+" version in the recordable CD formats.

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