Over weeks and months, exhaust case fans and power supply fans can suck in dust through the crack between the tray bezel and the faceplate of the optical drive, unless the drive has a gasket to seal the opening. I’ve attached a photo of my case; an old generic DVD-ROM is at top, while my relatively new Lite-On LTR-52246 is at bottom - apparently clean.
Some time ago, I posted here about a problem I was having with repeated failures of Lite-on CD-RW drives after a few months. The post is at http://forum.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=72389 and I won’t repeat the issues here, other than to say that no firm conclusions were reached, but the consensus on the most likely culprit was case heat (the drive was at the top of the case).
Today I read the following post on Silent PC Review (a useful site for anyone interested in reducing PC noise):
Note that the relevant comments are quite a ways down - search for “Yamaha”. The discussion moves from case fans to dust being sucked into optical drives.
A similar post is to be found at http://forum.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=74619 - I’ve just commented on that post, and thought it might be useful if I posted the information to the Lite-On forum as well, as in spite of many people contributing before, no one suggested dust as the culprit.
As my own newish Lite-On appears dust-free, and works ok, I can’t say one way or the other that dust was involved with previous failures. And my DVD still works OK. It would have been interesting to learn if a cleaning would have helped.
But I think than in evaluating failures, we should be careful to note dust intake issues.
My case has internal negative pressure and sucks in dust like a vacuum cleaner - well, maybe not that quickly, but it’s a real issue. I’m going to be sure that my next system has positive pressure in the case.