Cd/dvd drive won't read properly

I am not really sure where I should have posted this but here goes. I have a NEC DVDRW ND 5100A combo drive in a dell inspiron 5150. I have used this constantly to rip and burn cds through itunes. I have recently performed a bunch of window sp2 updates as it appears the automatic update had been enabled for two years and I don’t know if this is the cause but now when I try to burn a disk itunes says insert blank disk even though the disk in the drive is blank. I have placed a store bought cd in the drive and the drive still can’t read this…it just clicks twice and goes silent. I have tried updating the drivers (and it says I am up to date) I have tried rolling back (but it says I have none to roll back to) and I have tried uninstalling and reinstalling the device. To make sure the drive still worked I placed the windows instillation disk in the drive and prompted the computer to boot off of it and the drive read this cd just fine. Where is it going wrong? I was going to system restore to a point before the updates but of course the earliest restore point is the day after the updates. This really comes at a bad time as I have my wedding in a week and a half that I have to burn a slide show and multiple playlists off this computer for. Thank you for any thoughts suggestions.

So is the burner firmware updated to most recent? Also what kinda media are you using? And what software burner do you have installed and what software are you using to burn to the media? Have you check for spyware or malware…? How updated is your antivirus and firewall programs?

Yes firmware is updated, I have tried itunes and windows player to burn and both cannot detect the blank disk. My antivirus and firewall is all up to date, I run Mcafee. What is very strange is when my computer shuts down with the store bought audio cd and then I restart or even just if it sleeps, the computer now recognizes it…if I then quickly place the blank cd in the drive finally recognizes their is a disk in there but it says it is full. I talked to dell and they say I need a new drive, that the laser is “slightly” working, picking up certain types of media vs. others.