My thoughts on DVD-RAM

I bought a DVD burner yesterday and some DVD-RAM media. Although I've read and heard some negative opinions about the RAM format, I wanted to try it out for myself. The DVD burner is a LG GSA-4120B, which supports every DVD format in existence right now (+R, -R, +RW, -RW, +R DL, and RAM) and the DVD-RAM media is manufactured by Panasonic (made in Japan!)

I primarily bought this drive for backup purposes. My first test for the RAM media was to transfer my backup files to it. It was pretty amazing! It behaves just like a hard drive: no DVD-writing software required, quick writing of small files, and no waiting for lead-in and lead-out before ejecting the disc. In fact, it took me some time to get used to it because it's so unlike -RW/+RW. Each DVD-RAM disc is basically a 4.26GB hard drive :D.

I do have two complaints about the RAM format though. The first is that it is slower than +RW in transfering large amounts of data (a 3x RAM speed is actually equal to only 1.5x because it uses write/verify and read/verify instead of pure write and read). The good thing is that I don't plan on using this for large transfers at a time -- the initial backup will be a large transfer and will take a while, but after that only small modifications need be made (you don't copy 30+ GBs of stuff onto your 40 GB hard drive everyday now do you? :P) My second complaint is its incompatability with most DVD drives. Few DVDs can read them and fewer still can write to them. :(

There are lots of good things about RAM too. The DVD-RAM format is highly reliable due to error-correction features built into every disc. It also sports >100 000 times rewrite capabilty -- each disc will last you more than 27 years if you rewrite it 10 times a day -- and is bootable to boot :P. This reliablilty mumbo-jumbo may not translate into real-life perfomance but I can testify that it's pretty darn good. I've used an Imation DVD-RAM disc from Roxio as my personal coaster for 3 months now, the disc going through steaming hot mugs on top and a rough wooden surface on the bottom everyday. It has endured much punishment, indeed: if a hot mug goes on top, it immediately curls up due to the overwhelming heat. I thought it was certainly dead, but yesterday I tried to see if it would still work with my new burner. Indeed it did! All it required was a re-format :D

I think DVD-RAM is a great format for computer (data) use. That was and still is its purpose after all. As for anime and movie backups, I'm sticking with -R/+R because I only need write-once capability and the fast speeds (like 8x +) are nice. I hope this post helps you choose a good burner (if you're actually looking for one) :D


Jason Mulgrew said...


jason mulgrew
internet quasi-celebrity

Kagami said...

Hmm, I've only read positive things about DVD-RAM media. I don't consider "other drives can't run it" a negative...it's like telling someone Doom 3 sucks because most computers can't run it. Sorta like they did for Ultima IX. But I ignored that and bought myself a new graphics card, haha. Well worth it...sorta. :P

I like DVD-RAMs for re-format purposes. Excluding games and core apps like MS Windows and Office, I can copy all my application folders onto it and save myself a lot of re-installation time. =)

Bao said...

yay! welcome to the world of dvd burning ;)

I guess I should buy a few dvd-ram discs, just in case. So far I've only used DVD+R.

Alan said...

Thanks for the info about DVD-RAM sir. I'd basically never heard about them before I read your post. It's useful info for me, since I'm planning on getting a DVD burner for this school year. (to replace my crappy current DVD drive that can't even read DVD-R's)
I think I might not need that many RAM's though, since I'm mainly only going to be archiving anime and documents. But my anime is going to be like...7 gigs at most.

Jason Yu said...

You won't have to worry about DVD-RAM since chances are that the drive you buy will not support it. :P Most drives you see now support +R and -R and some new ones also support dual layer +R. DVD-RAM is still stuck in a small niche market here in North America. I hear it's popular in Asia though.

Kagami said...

I'd hold off on buying a dual-layer burner until the market comes out with a reliable drive that supports DVD-Rs also. DVD+Rs have a lot of good points, esp. for data archiving, but a lot of gaming consoles (all?), non-PC DVD players (again, all?), etc., don't support +R format, so that sucks. :P

And really...when will you need 8G+ DVDs to store DATA? All I have that big are videos, songs, and games, hehe.

-R media costs a little more, and typically, burns a little slower than +R, but hey, if what you burn isn't entertaining...it's prob not worth buying a DVD-burner for. ^^

Silph said...

:-) Panasonic should pay you for the glowing report!
And, you're telling me that you literally used a DVD-RAM disc as an actual coaster for three months, and it still worked?!

Jason Yu said...

Yup yup! :) Imation should thank me for the report tho, it was Imation's disk that was the coaster :D

Alan said...

Yeah...I'll probably just settle for a non-dual layer dvd burner then. I just want one now mainly so that I can free up some space on my HD. Got any suggestions on which brand I should buy? Ppl have told me LG is good, but then my old drive is LG, and it sucks. =
Or maybe I could just compress all of my drives to try and save space that way...would that be any better?

Bao said...

maybe for now, we'll just figure out why my dvds don't work on your computer, and when we fix that, you can just transfer everything to my computer and we'll burn a dvd from that. In the future, yeah, you should probably get a dvd burner, since it's so cool.

And I wouldn't mind being able to burn 8gigs onto dvds... Not that I have any files exceeding 4 gigs, but... well, we can fit more anime onto 8 gigs. Less physical space! yay!

Kagami said...

If money's not an issue, Plextor rules, hands down, hehe.