Updated: 04/02/2019 by Computer Hope
Matrix DVD

Short for digital versatile disc or digital video disc, a DVD or DVD-ROM is a disc capable of storing a significant amount more data than a standard compact disc. DVDs are widely used for storing and viewing movies and other data. The picture of the Matrix DVD movie disc is an example of a DVD movie. CD/DVD drives that utilize both of these discs were first sold in 1997.


To read and play DVDs on a computer, you must have a DVD-ROM drive and a DVD player.

How much data can a DVD hold?

DVDs have differing capacities:

  • One of the most common DVDs is the single-sided, single-layer disc, capable of holding 4.7 GB.
  • The single-sided, double-layer disc is capable of holding between 8.5-8.7 GB.
  • The double-sided, single-layer disc is capable of holding 9.4 GB.
  • Although rare, the double-sided, double-layer disc is capable of holding up to 17.08 GB.

What is the difference between a DVD and a CD?

Physically, a DVD and CD look the same. Both discs are the same size and have one labeled side and another from which the data is read by a laser. However, as was mentioned in the intro, DVD technology allows that same-sized disc to hold a lot more information than a CD.

What DVD player should I get to play movies on my computer?

We recommend VLC, it's free and an open-source media player that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. However, you can also use Windows Media Player on Windows computers to play most DVDs.

Can DVD drives read CDs?

Yes, all DVD drives are capable of reading both CDs and DVDs. If you have a DVD burner, it can also write on CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and writable DVDs.

The history of DVD

In 1993, there were two video disc formats being developed: the MMCD (multimedia Compact Disc) and the SD (super density) disc. To avoid a video format war, Philips and Sony, the backers of the MMCD, decided to partner with SD disc proponents (Hitachi, JVC, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, and Toshiba). Together, the unified industry group developed and agreed upon the DVD digital video format.

What was the first DVD?

The movie Twister became the first feature film put on DVD on March 25, 1996.

The future of DVD

DVD sales and usage is dwindling in popularity with the advent of more recent technologies like Blu-ray discs and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It's very likely in the future as more and more people get Blu-ray players, broadband connections, and other technologies are introduced that DVDs will no longer be used.

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