Often what seem to be hardware issues, like the optical drive, the Network or WiFi card
suddenly not being recognized is the result of operating system corruption which is in
turn is caused by an aging HDD...
VERY often starting from scratch and reinsstalling the OS on a fresh HDD will correct many apparrent problems.
As stated above updating the bios first then the "chipset driver" from dell wil correct many such issues
what model are both notebook computers?