Can I Save Data to a DVD & Access It Later?

Save data to external storage media to back up and protect your data and to move files to another computer. One external data storage option is to use optical DVD disks, but you can must use only certain types of DVDs for data storage and access.

  1. Compatibility

    • DVD disks come in two main formats: DVD-R or DVD+R recordable DVD disks and DVD-RW or DVD+RW rewriteable DVD disks. Recordable disks aren’t suitable for data storage and retrieval because they are designed for single use functions, such as burning movies to a DVD format for viewing on a DVD player. To read and write data, use a DVD-RW or DVD+RW rewritable DVD disk. The DVD-RW format is compatible with most computers, but you should check the computer’s user documentation to ensure your computer works with this disk format.


    • Your computer treats a rewritable DVD disk in the same way it treats any other external storage media including USB flash drives and external removable disk drives. You transfer files and documents from the computer’s hard drive directly to the DVD disk. When you want to access the data on the same computer or another computer, insert the disk into the computer’s optical drive to edit data files, delete files or transfer them to the computer’s hard drive.


    • To use the disk for data storage, you’ll need to format the disk in your computer. For all computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 operating systems, format the disk using the Live File Format system. The Windows Autoplay feature prompts you to format the disk when you first insert a rewritable disk into the computer’s optical drive. Select the “Burn files to disc using Windows Explorer” option and then click “Like a USB Flash Drive” in the formatting options list.


    • Most removable storage media offer memory capacity of 8GB for small USB flash drives to 1TB for external hard drives. Single-layer rewritable DVD disks offer 4.7GB of memory, and dual-layer rewritable DVD disks contain 8.5GB of memory. A disadvantage with optical DVD disk data storage is that dirt, grease and scratches can permanently damage the disk. Protect against damage by transporting the disk in a cover or case but be aware this type of disk is prone to damage. On the plus side, the slimline and lightweight design of DVD disks make them easy to store and transport.

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