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DVD writing in Windows

Backing up to DVD in Windows

Using your DVD drive as a backup device for your documents and folders

Currently, direct (transparent) DVD writing for easy backup can only be achieved through a so-called DVD packet writing driver. This article provides information about support for writable DVD in Microsoft Windows Vista and 7.


Microsoft has included support for DVD devices in the Windows operating systems since Windows 98 and Windows 2000, with driver support under the Windows Driver Model (WDM). All Windows versions up to and including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 support DVD-ROM as an optical media storage device. DVD writing capability can also be supported through the addition of third-party software.

Worldwide shipments of recordable DVD drives are expected to grow. There are several DVD recordable disc formats on the market: DVD-RW/-R, DVD-RAM, and DVD+RW/+R each offering different benefits. Many drives now appearing on the market support two or more of these format groups, and some support all three.

The next logical step for Windows is to include built-in support for writable DVD. Such support will allow, for example:

  • Easy backup of personal data.
  • Easy file transfer of multi-gigabyte files between PCs.

For backup and file transfer between PCs, the optimal user experience is achieved when the drive/media combination supports "drag-and-drop" style writing. For DVD, this capability is best provided through Mt. Rainier-capable or DVD-RAM drives. For creating DVD-Video compliant discs, drag-and-drop file system writing is not an option because information must be placed on the disc at specific locations. Thus a "pre-mastered" writing interface is needed, provided by IMAPI.

Planned support for writable DVD in Windows Vista

Microsoft is developing support in Windows Vista for all writable DVD formats.

Microsoft plans to support drag-and-drop UDF file system writing through the UDFS driver, and the writing of mastered discs through a new interface called IMAPI 2.

Microsoft plans to deliver additional IMAPI capabilities in Windows Vista, including DVD-Video mastering. Pre-mastered writing IMAPI 2 highlights: all in user-mode, extensible API, supports CD-RW/-R,DVD-RW/-R, DVD-RAM, DVD+RW/+R.

Read/write UDFS support in Windows

  • Planned in-box read/write UDF support for all writable DVD/CD media (in Windows Vista) with updated udfs.sys driver:
    • Ability to format and write UDF 1.02/1.5/2.00/2.50.
    • Standard repair tool (chkdsk.exe) supports UDF formatted volumes.
    • Windows Explorer recognizes blank optical media and presents appropriate action options (format as UDF for drag-and-drop use).
  • Planned support for device/media type:
    • CD-R/RW/MRW
    • DVD-R/RW
    • DVD-RAM
    • DVD+R/RW/MRW
  • Defect management options:
    • Support for hardware defect management. Mt.Rainier or DVD-RAM recommended for optimal performance and reliability for data writing on rewritable media types.
    • Software defect management for other rewritable device types via UDF.

Why Mt. Rainier?

  • Growing industry support. A growing number of manufacturers and OEMs are supporting Mt. Rainier-capable CD-RW and DVD+RW drives worldwide. This growing number of manufacturers plus the related reduction in prices indicate that Mt. Rainier-capable drives will be prevalent in the Windows Vista timeframe.
  • Best end-user experience. The Mt. Rainier format provides the best end-user experience for backup of data and file transfer between PCs: it allows for "fast formatting" of media, making a disk available for drag-and-drop style writing approximately 30 seconds after unformatted media is inserted. In contrast, DVD-RW (no Mt. Rainier) currently provides no background physical format function, meaning that users must wait 15-30 minutes the first time a disc is formatted for UDF file system use.
  • Drive read/modify/write. Mt. Rainier format allows writing to any sector on the media, in 2 KB (sector size) units. The drive takes care of any necessary ECC block read-modify-write operation. This technology allows for more straightforward file system implementations. Unlike the Mt. Rainier technologies, DVD-RW drives (which currently do not implement Mt. Rainier) require writes to be made in 32 KB chunks, aligned on 32 KB boundaries, causing significant additional complexity for file systems.
  • Hardware defect management. Mt. Rainier provides full hardware defect management capabilities. DVD-RW and non-Mt. Rainier DVD+RW and CD-RW drives perform no defect management, leaving the file system to perform this function in software, which is less robust and slower than a drive-based scheme such as that provided by Mt. Rainier.
  • DVD-RAM. Note that DVD-RAM is arguably better even than Mt. Rainier for data writing - it requires no physical format operation; has a robust and speedy hardware defect management implementation; and allows sector size writes. However, it is much less compatible for read-back in other DVD devices, especially consumer electronic DVD players, than the other DVD media types.

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