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CD Freaks Junior Member
Join Date: May 2005
Will a LASER wear out/need cleaning?
I have been using an older (3+years) Apex DVD player. It was low end when I bought it but has played well on commercial DVDs.
I recently started burning my own (fair use) copies of movies.
Last night, I started having problems with playing some DVDs which had up to that time worked well. Problem was the typical freezing up for a few seconds and then finally freezing completely.
I did the standard cleaning of the DVD (wipe across and not around) but that didn't help.
Then, I changed players to my new (last month) Polaroid Model 1100. Again, a basic low-end player, and the DVDs played well.
Since there is no physical contact between the LASER reader and the dksk, and assuming the disk is clean, I'm thinking about the LASER wearing out or being dirty.
I'm open for input which will be appreciated.
Video editing software expert
Join Date: Nov 2004
Re: Will a LASER wear out/need cleaning?
Yes lasers do wear out, or they can get weak. But, your problem could also be media related. Every standalone unit is slightly different as well. Some like +r, some like -r, and some are picky about brands of media. I wouldn't give up on your apex yet. Try a good quality media like verbatim or taiyo yuden, and see if you still have problems with it.
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Senior Administrator & Reviewer
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Republic of Ireland (North West)
Re: Will a LASER wear out/need cleaning?
From my experience with frequently used Hi-Fi systems, portable CD players and even PC CD & DVD-ROM drives, the laser can get quite dusty over a year or two, especially if the drive is present in a bedroom or living room. If you have ever opened an appliance that is cooled by fans and is over a few years old, you’ll see the amount of dust that can build up over time. The same applies with CD and DVD players as the spinning disc causes air to circulate over the laser, thus leading to dust building up after quite a bit use.
As your player can still play discs, what I would recommend doing is to get a CD/DVD cleaning kit. A CD cleaner is usually an audio CD with several fine brushes across the surface of the disc. These sweep some of the dust off the laser as the disc plays. There are some CD cleaning kits where the disc does not contain any content, but instead have one or more thicker fine brushes on them. These tend to do a better job at cleaning the laser, however many players are very quick to reject these (show ‘No Disc’) upon loading. I would recommend avoiding kits that use cleaning fluid as these often leave a residue on the laser and I even have seen these cause CD players to become more picky!
Finally, if you are willing to open your player (assuming it is out of warranty), you could try cleaning the laser with a Q-tip instead. I had to do this before with a Hi-Fi system and a Playstation2 where the laser got dusty to the point where it would no longer recognise (or spin up) any disc. If you would like to try this method, only lightly brush off the laser lens to avoid cotton strands from getting caught on the laser or its assembly. At the same time, I would recommend cleaning dust and hairs off the tracking and lightly lubricating it with Vaseline or petroleum jelly (these also help silence drives with noisy seeking).
So far I have only encountered two cases where a laser wore out. One was in my first CD writer (an early Ricoh 2x2x6 speed) and the other was in a well used Hi-Fi system.