My machine is killing my Optical Drives!



I need a little help here. I have a late 2002 Dell Dimension 8250, and its killing my optical drives. I’ve had 3 drives die in the Master position on the 2nd IDE channel. Now, it seems my slave DVD-ROM has also been hit, as it sporatically stops reading discs and gives me various other errors. I may be at fault, since all these problems seem to have come after I tried a little cable-mod (used that plastic tubbing and zip ties on the power supply lines and IDE cables to try and clean it up a little). Never had any problems before this.

At first, I wasn’t sure it was the computer, but after 3 I’m pretty sure. I have another computer (home-built) right next to it, running 24/7 too, and it has 3 optical drives on it and none of them have EVER had any problems. So, I don’t think it is anything to do with the power outlet or anything like that (power surges, etc…the home-built machine would have also been damaged).

Plus, the Dell has 2 hard drives on the 1st IDE channel, and they have NEVER had any problems at all (ran drive checking software). It never crashes or gives me any problems, other than the normal WinXP stuff.

What I want to know, is what could be the cause? If its the power supply (I always use the same power connection from the PS to attach to the master optical drive), could it only be damaging the optical drives and not the other drives and mobo? Would it work like that? I figured it would affect all the devcies attached to the power supply.

Could it be the IDE? Some kinda voltage spike or something comming down the ide cable?

I just don’t know how it can kill 3 (going on 4) optical drives and not do anything to the 2 hard drives or mobo/processor.

I need to know how to proceed…just get a new PS, or, because the Dell mobo is proprietary, get a new case, PS, mobo, ram (it uses RDRAM, and I can’t find any deals on a cheap replacement using RDRAM, and I’m not gonna drop a mint to get an old RDRAM setup–although I have 768mb or RDRAM, and that wasn’t cheap).

Thanks for any help.


What wattage power supply do you have? It might only be strong enough to just support the hardware included with the machine.

Insufficient power can definitely hurt your hardware.


Call Dell if it’s still under warranty, otherwise check the PS as JuciusMaximus suggested.

I am currently using an older Dell system, Dimension 8200 (see my sig), with two optical drives and 6 HDDs, all PCI slots full, still running strong 24/7.


Its a Foxtech or Foxteq (can’t remember) running at 250w…although people say its under-rated.

But would a weak PS really only damage the optical drives and not anything else? And I mean PERMANENTLY damage the drives (tried them in other machines/external enclosures and they were history).

Since there are only 2 wires, the PS and the IDE cable, going into the drive, it has to be from one of them…just don’t know which and how.


a weak PS can damage everything. Yours only 250w? I think my dell 8200 is 350w and wife’s 4600 is 250w. hmm…


Through a process of elimination, the IDE cable cannot do this. Time for a new power supply. Watch out, there used to be some power supplies out there from Dell and such, that were rewired even though the connections were the same. Do a thourough search for info before you just plug in anything.


Dell has a tendency to supply their machines with underpowered PSU units e.g. 200W or 250W, the downside to this is that you could not replace them as they used Properitery power supplies with specially manufactured motherboards to accept the non standard pin layout from the PSU, though you could get a convertor cable from 3rd party sources.

But be carefull if you try to connect a normal power supply to a board that was meant for dells proprietry power supplies you will blow it up. I have head that dell abandoned the Properietry power supplyl setup back in 2001 back i cant verify this.


OK, thanks for the info. I thought the IDE couldn’t do it, but wasn’t 100% sure so I just wanted to post to be positive.

I still don’t know how a Powersupply could ONLY damage the optical drives and nothing else. But, if its not the IDE, then it has to be the PS.

I’ve already checked into the Dell proprietary powersupply problem. It doesn’t effect my machine (although if I get a PS with a power switch, I’ll have to mod the case a little).

Thanks guys. I just wanted to be sure before I replace the PS and risk another optical drive…just to be safe, I’ll put in my oldest in there first (might even have a CD-RW I can use for a few months to be safe).

Anyone else ever have this problem? PS only killing optical drives?


Dell uses great quality psu’s thats why they can ship their machines with such low wattage


Don’t discount the possibility that heat is killing the drives.


Would heat only kill the opticals and nothing else? I figured the HDs would probably go first with the heat.

I asked about the IDE because when I was trying to mod the cables to increase air flow, I couldn’t get one of the ribbon cables (that goes to the front mounted USB and audio ports) removed and might have damaged it. Just wanted to know if any current or something could travel through the mobo/IDE to damage optical drives.

In either case, a new PS is on the way (450w). We’ll see if that works.


Typically, the HD’s are in a cage at the bottom front of the case, with the secondary optical drive directly above. Since the HD’s generate the most heat, the optical drive above is in the hot spot. Checking case temps would be an excellent idea.


I just remembered this, too. When I did my first little modding experiments, I remember that around or slighly after POST, the computer gave me errors about not seeing the Optical drives. I had to open the case and wiggle the wires around to get it to work.


How did you fit all those drives in the case? Can you post a screenshot? Also, are you using the default power supply and what’s the wattage?


A little manuver and creativity… :wink:

Yes I’m using the default power supply (350W, but not sure) and no additional fan (bad me). I’ll try to open the case later in the evening. I’m sure lots of people will bash me for abusing the pc. :stuck_out_tongue:


Hopefully we won’t be forced to report you to the PC Abuse authorities. :wink:


i’d bash you more if you never opened your PC :wink:

dell using quality PSUs and that’s why they have such low wattage? methinks not…

one reason that opti drives seem to be the only thing affected (so far) is that your other components are more tolerant of the ripple, spikes, and/or insufficient current…


On my old PC i that i had years ago the PSU was rubbish near the end of the computers life the optical drive would power down or wouldnt write to disks properly and come up with all sorts of errors. If the drive is not recieving the right amount of power (amps) it can do all sorts of weird things.


That sounds reasonable (I guess…I have know idea here).

I thought the problem was just with the machine, and if I took out the drives they would still be fine. Well, these are PERMANENT problems. When the drives go, they’re gone. Tried them in another computer, in an external enclosure, flashing the firmware…nada. The machine is actually killing them (somehow).

I’m just trying to, through a sorta process of elimination, figure out what could be permanently killing my optical drives, but nothing else. Since (apparently) nothing can come down the IDE cable to kill the drive, it has to be the power supply. A new 450w ps will be here in a few days thanks to Newegg (and their nice little coupon saving me $10).

But, zevia has 4 more HDs then I do, and he’s running on the default Dell PS. So I don’t know. Maybe it went bad? Never was strong enough to begin with? :confused:


so you’ve tried brand new 80pin IDE cables? if yes, then it’s most likely the PSU and i hope the new one fixes your problems…