What Is an Optical Drive? - Definition, Types & Function

Optical Drive which is mainly used as input device can read and write data from optical disks through an emerged technology of laser beaming. Can be also known as optical disk drives. User is allow to retrieve, edit and delete his inputted content from the disk such as DVDs, CDs and Blu-ray disks. Optical drive is of no use if it is not used with optical disk and it works by rotating disks inserted at the constant speed calculated as revolutions per minute abbreviated as RPM ranging from 1600 to 4000.

Types of optical drives

There are various types of optical drives. Some of them use only CDs, which typically store 700 MB of data others are DVDs which store 4700 to 8500 MB data. CD and DVD ROM are read only. But the writers also known as burners can write as well read them.

CD-ROM drive

These drives can read only audio disks, data disks and writable disks and provided with the basic functionality at minimum cost. Some of the advantage it serve is low price but there are some of the disadvantages that it cannot read DVD-video, DVD-audio and it cannot write discs.

DVD-ROM drive

DVD-ROM drives cost is more than CD-ROM drives it can read all the CD-ROM drives also DVD-Video, DVD-ROM and DVD-Audio disc. It can read only the disc but cannot write.

CR-RW drive

It is also called as CD writers or burners or recorders. CD writers read the same format as we discussed above in CD-ROM and write data to disks also. CD-RW cannot read DVD discs. CD-RW provide inexpensive backup solution and limited to 700 MD per disc.


This is the combo of drives that are providing functionality of both DVD-ROM and CD-RW. Can read any optical disc and write CDs. This combo drive is popular until the DVD-writers price are dropped.

DVD writer

DVD writers do all things read and write both CDs and DVDs but this flexibility in the single disk used to some at very high cost so this is most common issue to choose this disk.