Windows XP (only Pro?) has native support for DVD-RAM dics formatted to FAT. How painful is formatting to UDF? I know it requires software, but is it just a driver? And once the driver/software is installed, is the read/write of UDF discs transparent? What is the read/write performance of FAT vs. UDF?


After having installed drivers or software (either Panasonic’s DVD RAM driver or Nero InCD), formatting is as painful as formatting any other media using Windows’ own routines.

I know it requires software, but is it just a driver?
You can install Panasonic’s driver (best solution) or software like Nero’s InCD.
And once the driver/software is installed, is the read/write of UDF discs transparent?
Yes. You use the media like an exchangeable harddisk
What is the read/write performance of FAT vs. UDF?
This is, what drive manufacturers think:


Using DVD-RAM as HDD is good and bad at once. Good as you can use a DVD media like HDD, but not good because DVD-RAM physically cannot stand too many rewrites and the access and seek times are extremely slow compared to HDDs.

DVD-RAM was invented when there were other optical storage media like PD, Apex, MO, etc. Even ZIP and Jazz were popular then and most computers had one HDD and one 3.5-inch FDD (and sometimes a 5.25-inch FDD instead or both.) Floptical and LS maybe, too. Initially 2.6GB per side making 5.2GB on both sides, later updated to 4.7GB/9.4GB, the cost was like US$10 per GB. Though it may seem ridiculously expensive now, most computers then had just 100MB to 500MB HDD and a CD-ROM could contain just as much as 650MB of write-once or pre-written data. HDD space has increased about 1,000 times in the past 10 years. DVD-RAM still remains 2.6GB to 9.4GB. DVD-RAM was cheaper than HDD. Only the lower cost justified DVD-RAM purchase for most DVD-RAM users (for personal use.) Now, HDDs are cheaper while remaining faster as well. So buying DVD-RAM media to use like HDDs doesn’t make much sense now. Only making cartridge-based Blu-ray 8x media at very low cost before even that becoming obsolete can save the DVD-RAM tradition (since PD) but the industry doesn’t want it yet.

Conclusion: DVD-RAM 16x is just symbolic. Very few people will ever use it.


I don’t think, that anybody would use DVD-RAM as a HDD. But the handling is similar and hassle free, so it is actually the best backup solution for home users. The discs are rather cheap, so there is no problem of keeping two sets of backups. Also, if a disc goes bad, then only 4GB are lost. Absolutely not comparable to a 300GB external HDD going bad;)

So buying DVD-RAM media to use like HDDs doesn’t make much sense now.
See my statement above.

Conclusion: DVD-RAM 16x is just symbolic. Very few people will ever use it.
Even 5x media are rare here in Germany…


No one suggested using DVD-RAM as a hard drive. The comparison is used in analogy to show that the ease of use (data access and write) of DVD-RAM is as easy as a HD and as easy as it used to be with floppy disks. The IT industry hasn’t had a decent “floppy disk”-type solution for quite some time, and it has been sorely lacking and surely has cost millions or billions of dollars in lost productivity because users were forced to kludge-around with burning software and disc structures designed for authoring rather than for data. The optical media/technology fiasco is one of the industry’s greatest blunders IMO.

mcihael wrote:

I know it requires software, but is it just a driver?

You can install Panasonic’s driver (best solution) or software like Nero’s InCD.

And once the driver/software is installed, is the read/write of UDF discs transparent?

Yes. You use the media like an exchangeable harddisk"

Just to clarify… Does the software or driver ever show itself after it is installed (if so, that wouldn’t be transparent)?

It depends on the OS you use. I can’t speak for InCD, but for Panasonic’s DVD-RAM drivers, if you use Win2k, an extra drive letter appears which is used to access DVD-RAM discs. With WinXP that extra drive letter doesn’t appear. In the case of either OS, the only other extra thing you get is an an option when you right click on a drive called “Format”. That’s it.

Well, it depends…
If you are running Win9x/ME or 2000, then a second drive icon will appear in “My Computer” allowing you to access the DVD RAM disc. This will not happen with Windows XP as this has DVD RAM support built in, and Panasonic’s DVD RAM driver adds UDF capability.
If you need to format a disc, then the DVDform utility, that was installed with the driver, will show up instead of Windows’ own format tool. Also, a write protect utility will be installed with the driver.
The driver can easily be uninstalled using “Add or Remove Software” in control panel.


Sorry Kenshin, but I think you missed the point completely with DVD-RAM. It is not really meant to replace HDDs. So comparing it with HDDs is like comparing apples to watermelons. Where DVD-RAM discs really excel is when they are compared to DVD+/-RW media. When compared to these other types of media DVD RAM-discs :

[li]allow more rewrites (according to manufacturers)
[/li][li]are more fault tolerant because of the hard sectored nature of the discs
[/li][li]do automatic verification when data is written to them
But I’m sure you know this already. I suspect you were just responding to Michael’s comment about :

OK. I’m not worried about W2k. The only thing stopping me from buying a DVD-RAM drive is the unavailability of 12x media and the media price. That may limit use of DVD-RAM for my own needs (DVD+MRW can be more widely exchanged since most people don’t have DVD-RAM drives) but that’s fine because I just want a good backup/archiving technology for my desktop machine data.

That’s like comparing a 1.44MB floppy disk and a 650MB CD-R. Only up to 1.44MB data is lost instead of 650MB on a CD-R. You have to compare about 200 DVD-RAM disks with 3 320GB HDD’s.

I was comparing DVD-RAM and HDD’s from a practical point of view when used under real situations by real people. Most people use DVD write-once media instead of DVD rewritable media because they feel it’s so painful to use rewritable media while the rewritability is limited and data protection is not good enough and it’s actually cheaper to use a few write-once disks instead of a single rewritable disk. Most people use HDD’s and flash memory instead of DVD rewritable media when access times and ease-of-use are more important than cost per GB.

DVD-RAM was invented as something between RW and HDD. More rewritable than RW but less rewritable than HDD. Higher cost than RW but lower cost than HDD. Safer than RW but not as safe as HDD. That was where DVD-RAM applications stood. Such a market disappeared long ago as HDD’s become cheaper than DVD-RAM media and flash memory size has become larger and write-once DVD media have become a lot faster and cheaper at once than DVD-RAM media. Such things were not true five or ten years ago.

Of course, there are still merits in using DVD-RAM for some people. But its marketshare has gradually diminished. LG’s “Super Multi” helped make DVD-RAM popular but it is still true virtually no Super Multi drive owner buys a singl DVD-RAM media ever.

But I’m sure you know this already.

I wrote the DVD-RAM part of some FAQ a few years ago (when I was a mod), but it’s all just specifications. In reality, the starting point is money and the goal is also money. So few want to invest in DVD-RAM and so few want to buy DVD-RAM. CDFreaks published some articles about Blu-ray and DVD-RAM about 3-4 years ago. DVD-RAM should have been dead at least since then at least from profit seeker’s point of view.

Well I had about 6 Hard Discs which crashed within 2 years after buying and 2 300GB DOA HDDs in the past 3 years (8HDDs within 3years going bad…) while my first DVD-RAM I bought 5 years ago and written way over 300 or more times to still works fine…
Maybe I am just unlucky but of all the 20 DVD-RAMs I have, none of them gave me only 1 error. I use DVD-RAM on a daily basis on my standalone Panasonic HDD-DVD Recorder and Computer. I copy TV shows from HDD to DVD-RAM and then Edit the contents on the RAM disc and then copy the contents to DVD-R on my Computer.
Some of my RAM even outlive some DVD-R by Maxell (MIJ) which are unreadable after 2 years after burning them…

koba: HDs and DVD-RAMs both have a hidden spare area where defect sectors are relocated to.
Did your MIJ Maxells die at once or deteriorate slowly?

The Maxell where MIJ DVD-R and died over a period unknown to me…
I burned them around 2 years ago and when I checked them last week they were unreadable…
I have never had a DVD-RAM fail till now but many HDDs as you can read in my above post…
Some DVD-RAM have contents on them over 2 years old too.
Off Topic:
Well maybe i am just a little unlucky with my Hard Discs…
8 drives in 3 years is a lot… if I would consider all the drives I lost in the past 10 years its even more…I lost at least 4 IBM deathstars too lol.
But on the other hand I have 2 10 year old HDD from Quantum which are still working today without any flaw…
I also still have 5inch floppy discs from about 22+ years ago still usable… I checked some yesterday after not using them for at least 19 years…

Perhaps you were unlucky with HDDs but lucky with DVD-RAM media while the HDDs you bought were somehow of low quality but the DVD-RAM media you bought were of high quality.

For me, most HDD’s that died were Western Digital (not necessarily because WD HDDs are weaker than IBM/Hitachi’s or Seagate’s or Maxtor’s or Samsung’s but mainly because most HDD’s I bought recently to store terabytes of data were WD1600 or WD2000 series.) I lost more HDD’s in the recent 3 years than you. I could have bought at least a few Yonan notebooks instead.

But for most users who do not buy 10 or 20 or 30 or even more HDD’s at once but just store OS and data all on one physical HDD, bad HDD’s often mean not being able to use their computers entirely for at least a few days. Internet failures and CD/DVD failures occur far more often.

BTW, @TonyTech, you created four threads concerning about the same topic. Maybe we need a dedicated “DVD-RAM” forum because it fundamentally differs from DVD-R/+R and DVD-RW/+RW. (If there are enough DVD-RAM enthusiats here, that is.)

If Maxell hasn’t improved their quality during the 8x or 16x generation I’ve seriously wasted some money. Argh.

Kenshin wrote:

“BTW, @TonyTech, you created four threads concerning about the same topic. Maybe we need a dedicated “DVD-RAM” forum because it fundamentally differs from DVD-R/+R and DVD-RW/+RW. (If there are enough DVD-RAM enthusiats here, that is.)”

I also mentioned the potential need for a specific DVD-RAM forum in another thread. Currently, DVD-RAM looks lucrative to me because of the availability of cheap fast drives. If the media becomes available at a reasonable cost, I think a bunch of users will finally have that “big floppy disk” type thing once again that they can rely on and not confuse with what I call the “authoring” optical technologies. I don’t think anyone is going to get excited about DVD-RAM again though until the media availability/price problem is gone, so maybe waiting until media starts becoming available to create a new forum is appropriate.

(Another thing to think about is perhaps separating the CE-type posts from the IT-type posts via new or changed forum topics/names).

The Harddisks I lost are all Seagate (in the past 3 years). Others I lost are IBM Deathstars and some Maxtors. I never really used WD HDD.
The DVD-RAM I use are all MIJ Maxell or Panasonic.
BTW I had never had any Internet failure and much more HDD failure than DVD/CD related.
I would not worry about the Maxell DVD+/-R at all. The ones which are unreadable now were bought at a special sale where the shop was clearing its stock of Media with cracked Spindles and broken wraps. I got 300 Pcs (Mixture of Maxell and TY Discs) for about 27 Euros.

I’m digging up old threads, but i didn’t think any replies answered the question so i will leave mine thinking it may help someone with their drive in future.

DVD RAM was intended format for computers and was to replace floppy drives.BTW i still have a floppy in my computer as i write…LOL…It is also intended to be used just like a floppy
It can be formatted without special software and can be written to more times than DVD+/-RW.
Hard Drive File system formats are typically better on DVD RAM discs if they are used to store computer data as originally intended for the discs.These file systems offer more tools repair and error correction capability
Originally available only in cartridges to protect from dust,fingerprints,scratches it lost in favor to DVD+/-RW because it could not be played in a standalone DVD player used with a television and it’s need for a separate drive.It is Now offered in bare discs without cartridges.

DVD ROM and ReWritable (Digital Video Disc) was designed as a video disc format same as BluRAY discs
These are NOT as good for computer data because of high read/write error rates to the disc caused by less error correction and dust,scratches or fingerprints on the unprotected surface.Errors do not matter as much for video.
ISO and UDF are (video file formats) designed for use with these discs.

Ironically,Although originally designed for computers DVD RAM became popular with professional video production companies because of it’s ability to edit on disc in camera while at the same time it was played back.
In camera video editing to the disc will wear out one area of the disc long before the rest of the disc because of the way data is written with FAT or other Hard disc file system.This is the reason DVD RAM drive manufacturers are recommending the UDF file system instead (It’s a file system designed for video editing in camera and spreads the data out so it doesn’t wear out one section)However, if your using a DVD RAM Disc for it’s original intended purpose of computer data storage (an expanding data back up library) that’s not edited so frequently in one spot. Using FAT or other hard disc file system would be the better way to go for compatibility without software and repair ability…

In summery, when DVD RAM drive manufacturers say to use UDF they are really talking to the industry the disc is most widely being used in and sold to (Professional Video Production industry)and they are just saying use the file format that was intended for video (UDF).They’re not talking to the average computer user and they should make that note in their statement.I guess it’s because Sony is really an entertainment video company and not really in computer industry.
I’m also saying for computers DVD RAM is better than BluRay if you don’t need High definition video capability.

Hope that helps someone