Optical drive won't read cds



i have dell studio 15 with:
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo P8400 (2.20GHz/1066Mhz FSB/3MB cache)
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1
8X Slot Load CD / DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)
4GB3 Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 800MHz
Size: 320GB4 SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)

my problem is that the drive won’t read some of the cds and dvds. it still appears as if the dvd wasn’t in the drive, as in it keeps asking to intert a dvd. the drive can read certain dvds and cds, which really confuses me.

i contacted dell tech support 4 times and they fixed it by uninstalling the drive and reinstalling it, but the problem is still there. the tech guy suggested that i uninstall iTunes (…what?), sims 2, and restore my system to factory settings, which i absolutely hate to do.

from another forum, someone suggested that the problem may be with the dvd burning drive, and how there is an unresolved problems with reading with some burners. he suggested that i replace it with an old regular drive, but the thing is that since my dell has a slot loading drive, i can’t just buy a new optical drive and hope that it’ll fit.

it just confuses me how if some cds/dvds cannot be read, why would they install such dvd driver in the first place? even a cd given by dell couldn’t be read once, and i don’t think dell would install a driver that works sometimes and doesn’t work other times. i’m starting to think that maybe it’s vista or the software, not the hardware.

any ideas?
help would be very appreciated, i’m totally stressed out over it, i stayed up all night to back up my files since the tech guy suggests that i restore my system :[


Hi and Welcome!

so this is a brand new notebook which is under warranty.
Indeed, some softwares can affect the performance of an optical drive:
Copy protections installed by games, video DVDs or music CDs,
CD/DVD burning related software,
Itunes is another source of trouble for whatever reasons.

So I can understand, Dell support requested to restore the system to factory installation.

But you can try some other things, additionally:
Have you already tried “Dell diagnostics”? This should either be preinstalled (this was the case with my Vostro) or can be put onto a CD or an (empty!) USB stick. In case you don’t have this, you can download the diagnostic tool from Dell support website.

Another option would be a bootable CD (I like Linux Live CDs like Puppy Linux or Kanotixfor such purpose).

If these (especially Dell Diagnostic) fail also, this should rule out any Windows issues. Maybe this is sufficient to convince Dell to have your drive replaced.

Another remark: Replacing the drive by something else is not that easy, since your drive is a S-ATA slim drive. These are brand new on the market, replacements from other manufacturers are hard to find (if they already exist).



I have Studio 15 as well with the same drive and configuration.

I have resolved this issue by installing new firmware fro the optical drive:

I have used DW20 from 4th of August 2009. Can’t remember what firmware the drive originally shipped with, but it was dated November 2008, so this was a major jump.

Please be aware that this is a last resort solution, perform firmware upgrades with care as the wrong firmware for your drive can damage it irreversibly.

Best Regards,


I also have this problem.
I have my LG drive.
It can read and write DVD’s, but it can’t read any type of CD’s…


Hi and welcome to the forum viceTommy :slight_smile:

Do you have this problem with [U]any[/U] CD (i.e. both pressed and burned discs) or with some specific discs only?

DVD burners have two separate lasers, one for CDs and another for DVDs. If the CD laser is damaged, the DVD laser can be still perfectly functioning, and this explain the problem. The only solution, in this case, is a new drive.

To exclude some sort of problem caused by operative system or any software installed in your computer, you can run a simple test: try to boot the computer from a CD (you can use a Linux liveCD like Ubuntu for example). If you can load the Linux system, then the drive is working correctly, and there is something wrong in your computer, i.e. some software conflict. Did you install something recently just before the problem appeared?


Thanks I already buy a new one.
I hope I will not have any problems with it in the future.
Any suggestions on how to keep it working for many years?


Too bad there is no way to know how long a drive will last.

Some drives die after few weeks, other can run perfectly after years. It is a matter of luck :doh:

BTW, there are some things that can help to improve durability in time. The most important thing is to wait some time between consecutive burnings, so the drive can cool up enough. An excessive heating can damage quickly the drive.

Even better, if you run a verify after burning a disc, is preferable to run the verification with a different drive so if you need to burn many discs consecutively, you can burn a disc, verify it on another drive while the burner is cooling, then burn the other disc, and so on.

Another thing that can help is avoid to keep the tray open for a long time. Even if this can help drive cooling, it also allow to dust to enter into the drive, and dust can cause problems after some time.


Sometimes even unguilty “looking” software like “Nero Drivespeed” can make cd/dvd drives unusable. A fact to remember if optical drive problems occue. :wink: