DVD drive doesn't recognize any CD-R discs



My 4 year old computer with a perfectly functioning DVD burner won’t recognize any CD-R discs. It acts like the disc is blank and asks whether I want to use Live File System or Mastered (i.e. rewritable or not). These discs are about 7 years old and in pristine condition, no scratches or anything and I rarely ever used them in the XP computer which burned them.

Are DVD burners not backward compatible with CD-Rs? Which would mean the CD-R technology lasted for maybe 5 years and now everyone’s left with coasters? The obsolescence issue might be far worse than I ever imagined.

The burner works fine for playing audio CDs.

Hitachi (“HL-DT-ST”) GT33N


No, DVD burners are compatible with CD’s, both for reading and writing. Since the drive plays audio CD’s, the laser assembly is working properly (the drive uses different frequency lasers for CD’s vs DVD’s). The drive may be slightly picky about burned discs, but should still work for them.

Which leaves something wrong with the discs themselves. Lower reflectivity, degraded dye layer, poor initial burn…hard to say from long distance. Try them in a different drive on another computer or use an external drive connected to your laptop via USB.

Optical drives do vary considerably in reading ability, and your drive may simply be be poor about reading marginal discs.


OK thanks for the swift reply. If the discs are bad, would the behavior be so consistent across many discs? - not a trace of clicking or whirring or stuttering as it tries to read the disc, just the normal minimal sounds like when you put in a blank disc, plus the “How do you want to use this disc?” message . I tried about 10 discs from a set of dozens (mostly the same media brand and burned within about a two year span) and ran Unstoppable Copier and CD Recovery Toolbox on at least half those and it’s the identical result for all of them. CDRT even says there’s no disc inserted. No visible damage and no exposure to temperature or moisture extremes.

I also tried a few in an XP machine that is old but runs just fine.

Many years ago I would have bad discs, I suspect due to glitchy burning technology or maybe overburned processors or what have you and they would stutter and be nearly unreadable but I think you could see the files and often IsoBuster or something could recover it. But that was sporadic.


I take it the older XP machine could not read the discs either?

Like you, I am a bit dubious about [I]all[/I] the discs going bad without some extreme conditions, but I don’t know the mid code of the discs you are using or the manufacturer. Some discs were poor quality to start with.

If the data is extremely important, you may have to try several different drives and see if you get lucky with one (there’s a reason I still have 8 optical drives floating around at my house :)). Then use ISOBuster to extract the information.


No, the XP couldn’t. I thought I was careful to get blank dvds with good reviews and not just anything from the drugstore, but maybe these were before I learned about that. They are all TDK though I know those brands often get different batches from different manufacturers.

I have one or two 10 year old laptops I can try.


So out of the first 7 discs I just tried in a 7 to 10 year old HP laptop with XP, 6 worked perfectly right off the bat and the files copied quickly to the HD, and one behaved like in the new computer, with no signs of reading any data at all.