Difference Between CDR and CDRW

The revolution of entertainment industry happened when they found that data that was recorded can be stored for multiple uses in different discs as films or as recorded data.


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The oldest one being the re-winding cassette and the cassette player. Others are CDs, discs and tape-recorders.

Thought the use of cassettes have drastically decreased, the use of CDs has not with modern times. This is because of their ability to store data for a long time or how useful they are for transferring data.

There are various types of CDs unknown to many, two such beings: CDR and CDRW

Key Takeaways

  1. CDR (Compact Disc Recordable) and CDRW (Compact Disc Rewritable) are optical storage media used for digital data and audio; CDR can be written to once, while CDRW can be rewritten and erased multiple times.
  2. CDR discs are more compatible with standard CD players and devices than CDRW discs; CDRW discs may be readable by only some CD players and require specific hardware and software to rewrite and erase.
  3. CDR discs are more suitable for archiving data or creating permanent copies, while CDRW discs are better for temporary storage and frequent rewriting.


The difference between CDR and CDRW is that although CDR and CDRW can store700-800 MB data, the data stored in CDR cannot be erased or re-written whereas the data stored in CDRW can be re-written if the existing data is erased. So CDRW is reusable.


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CDR or Compact Disc Recordable is a CD that cannot be re-written even though it has 700-800 MB storage. This is the most commonly used CDs that are made of reflective metal for the bottom and a dye for the top.

This dye stores the data that is read and played by any CD players.

CDRW or Compact Disc Re-Writeable is another CD type that also has 700-800 MB storage but the data can be re-written. The only condition is that the previously existing data has to be erased.

This is also made of reflective material but the top has special metal instead of dye.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCDRCDRW
Abbreviation forCompact Disc-RecordableCompact Disc-Re-Writeable
Material usedCDR uses dye on topCDRW uses special metals on top.
Storage700-800 MB that can only be viewed and not edited700-800 MB but the data can be re-written after removing the existing data
CostLow costMore than CDR
SpeedComparatively fast.Is slower in reading than CDR
CompatibilityIs compatible with all CD readers or playersThough it is more recent, it cannot be read by all CD players/
UsageLong term data storageFor transferring data

What is CDR?

CDR or Compact Disc Recordable is a type of CD that is made with reflective metal on the bottom side and dye on the top. They are used to store data for a long time and has a storage of 700-800 MB.

They are read-only disks. The data that is once stored in the disc cannot be removed or replaced. In other terms, the data stored in a CDR cannot be re-written or erased.

So it is a multi-sessional disk on which different data types like audio, video, etc. can be written.

Once the data is stored, it is then converted to CD-ROM so that the stored data can be viewed. This is usually done by a CD player that can read and play the data stored in CDs.

Almost all the CDRs are compatible with all types of CD players.


What is CDRW?

CDRW or Compact Disk Re-Writable is another type of CD that can store and view data. It stores up to 700-800 MB of data.

On a CD-RW, the data once stored can be re-written if the already existing data is erased. So, a CD-RW can be used multiple times.

The disadvantage of CD-RW is that it is not compatible with all the CD players. The old CD players cannot read CDRW.

CDRW also costs more than CDR. This owes to the fact that they can be used multiple times as the data in a CDRW can be re-written.


Main Differences Between CDR and CDRW

  1. CDR stands for Compact Disc-Recordable, or commonly known as CD whereas CD-RW or CDRW stands for Compact Disc Re-Writeable. They are also commonly called CD since they both use CD players to read.
  2. Though all CDs use reflective metal as their main material, the difference between CDR and CDRW is that CDR uses dye on top whereas CDRW uses special metal on top.
  3. CDR and CDRW have 700-800 MB storage but the data stored in CDR can only be viewed. Whereas, the data stored in CDRW can be re-written once the existing data is erased from its memory.
  4. The cost of a CDR is lower than CDRW. But the higher price of CDRW is since they can be re-written.
  5. The speed of the two discs is also different. Though the data of CDR cannot be re-written, they are read and interpreted faster by CD players as compared to CDRW.
  6. CDR is compatible with all types of CD players whereas CDRW is not compatible with the older ones. The old CD players cannot read the data stored in CDRW.
  7. Even though CDR cannot re-write data, they are highly used as the disc that can store long-term data. Whereas CDRW is used mainly for transferring data.
Difference Between CDR and CDRW
  1. https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/3806/0000/CD-R-and-CD-RW-optical-disk-characterization-in-response/10.1117/12.371149.short
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/microscopy-and-microanalysis/article/data-storage-on-cdr-and-cdrw-future-and-achieving/B8FF29AAE7655E5EC3EB56A4F6F7F788
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