Short Lifetimes of Optical Drives?

An interesting discussion at /. on the lifetimes of optical drives and some excellent pointers on prolonging your drives useful life. Entertaining as well.
Lifetimes Of Optical Drives

A deep unwavering belief is a sure sign you’re missing something…

At the falling price, increasing speeds (though not for much longer), it’s getting to the point that you have to treat a writer as a “consumable” - after all, its about the price of a spindle or two of good quality media.

I’ve rescued a couple of drives before, with a “contact” clean of the lens, yes, risking damage, but it was kill or cure (used an ultra-safe lens cleaner solution)… A CD-ROm lasted about another 6 months, and an Audio deck (that wouldn’t recognize a CD before) - was restored and not had any more calls for help.

If it’s bad enough that cleaning the bits you CAN get at helps, then the bits you cant get at will let you down later.

Of course, if it can tide you over until the next great step, it helps - sooner or later, the standard DVD writer will be 16x +/-R, 8x +RW / 6x -RW and 4x or better on DL +R - with support for -R DL as well - it’s inevitable that lower specification drives will be pushed down in price until they become uneconomic to produce.

Try Milty CD Lens Cleaner it will not damage your lens. I’ve been using it for some time now on my DVD burner, DVD-ROM, Stand alone DVD player, and CD player without any problems. Here’s a link

CD lens cleaners with brushes? The hell?

Oldest drive I have is a CDRom bought in 1998 with “Crapaq”. Reads all disks its supposed to perfectly fine.
ASUS 52x CDRom since Aug. 2002: reads everything it’s supposed to read perfectly fine.
Lite-On 16x DVDRom since Aug. 2002: reads everything it’s supposed to read perfectly fine.
Lite-On 40x12x48 CDRW since Aug. 2002: reads everything it’s supposed to read perfectly fine.
Lite-On DVD/CDRW combo drive since 2003: reads everything it’s supposed to read perfectly fine.
BenQ DW1620 DVDRW since Feb. 2005: reads everything it’s supposed to read perfectly fine.

I’ve never had to clean the lens, or use lens cleaners with brushes.

I agree with the general concensus on just getting a new drive. Why spend $25-40 on Lens cleaners when you can get a new drive at almost equal or even lesser value? DVDRoms can be had for almost $20 in most cases.

If you’re that broke and can’t get a new drive, then result to Alcohol and a cotton swab.

Note: The drives in green are retired not because they aren’t working, but because there’s no space for them.

I have retired a Panasonic CW 7502 SCSI Burner, a Yamaha 8824 SCSI Burner, a Plextor 8x12x32 SCSI burner and a Plextor 8x12x32 IDE Burner for the same reason, no more space to put them. They all worked fine when I pulled them and I NEVER used a cleaning disc. I have had to lubricate the drive rails on the Panasonic but it is approaching 9 years old. Maybe I’ll put them all in a spare case and run a 100% SCSI system for fun.

Lothario, you have a good point. However, I also have a Panasonic RP91DVD Player and older Cambridge CD Player that I use in my surround-sound system. The Cambridge at best is a mid-level CD player, but neither can be replaced with spending $40.00.
We purchased a $39.00 stand-alone DVD player for my brother-in-law, and all the movies that we played on this no-name DVD player look like crap. I spent good money on the Milty Lens cleaner and even though you can replace a DVD-ROM for the same money, it has worked wonders on some of my friends stand alone DVD Players. The money spent on this lens cleaner will allow me to keep my Panasonic and Cambridge working properly until HD-DVD/Blu Ray take over.
If there is any dust in your computer case, you can be sure that it also affects your DVD-ROM/writer. Though one could replace a DVD-ROM once a year, I’ve had the Milty for the past 4 years, and I’ve had no problems with any of my CD/DVD readers, writers, or players.

Spending $40 on a lens cleaner for the DVD Drives/players thats NOT garanteed to work is not something I’d do.
As you see from the thread link, most people there didn’t have good experiences with lens cleaners like you did.
If after you spend $40 on a lens cleaner and the drive/player still didn’t work, then what happens next? That’s $40 down the drain already.

However going to a store to pick up a new drive/player IS garanteed to work. If it dosen’t, you can always exchange.
I’d rather spend extra $10-20 on something that IS garanteed to fix my problem.

Get a Philips DVP642 DVD player. Can be had for $60. It has played ABSOLUTELY everything I’ve thrown at it from DivX, Xvid, AVI, NTSC/PAL, MPEG-4, MP3s, VCD, SVCD, KVCD.
I can bet that the Philips DVP642 DVD player supports just as much formats as your Panasonic RP91DVD Player(if not more) and the quality is just as good.

And just so you know, Philips isn’t a no name brand either.

I also have a $50 Apex DVD player, and my mother/brother have a $130-150 samsung/panasonic.
Take a guess which one gives less problems and plays PAL disks?
That’s right, my Apex.

I’ve revived a lot of cd drives over the years. A lot of times, the mechanism that slides the laser will get full of gunk and needs to be cleaned. Then some new grease and it’s good as new! I use a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol to clean the lenses, works like a charm! You can’t press very hard, or it will knock the laser out of allignment. Also, dusty puters seem to hose optical drives in a hurry! The only drive I’ve ever had go bad in my puter was my old 12x DVD-ROM. It was a hitatchi, and the stupid plastic bubble on top for the centering mechanism, just wore out. It would vibrate, and it just read slow. Id still read OK, didn’t refuse many disks. Other than that, they all work OK still, even my old CD burners all work!!! I put them in other puters when I was done with them. My friends puters get so dusty, and the drives puke from just getting dirty. I clean them out, make sure the mechanism moves freely, and clean the lense. The usually go on like nothing ever happened. I think the main reason they are dieing faster is they have more ways for dust to get in, and more fans to suck the dust into them. :Z :stuck_out_tongue:

Lothario if the purpose of your DVD player is to play anything, then what matters is that it plays. I prefer a Player that not only plays what I put into it, but is also reproduces the picture and sound properly. I am unsure of your Philips DVP642 DVD player, Philips does have a very good name, but my experiences have taught me that you get what you pay for. That’s not to say that your Philips DVP642 DVD player is not good. But what I do know is that when I pay good money for a TV and DVD Player, I want it to work at peak performance. Since I live in a large city, dust is a problem and there is no way getting around this problem.
Taking a q-tip and some rubbing alcohol may work. However, if you are not careful you will change the angle of your lens, which is a bad thing :eek: . With my luck after a few beers I’ll put in a Led Zeppelin DVD and the player requires cleaning. If so, the brushes on the Milty will not change the angle of your lens despite your angle, nor will they damage your lens with scratches.
To further my point on getting what you pay for, I’ve taken a Panasonic RP-91 DVD player (retail $899 CDN), Marantz DV-4300 (retail $399 CDN), and a Citizen DVD-Player (retail $49 CDN). Using the same TV, same Component Video Cable, same audio cable, in short the same system but for the player and we watched I, Robot. The difference between the Panasonic and Marantz where very minor (mind you the Marantz in newer and with the falling rate of DVD players I believe that they are in the same league), but that Citizen Player was bad. The bubbles in the beginning had very little bass in DTS, the red that comes up not unlike the sun was one shade of red, where the other two had shades of red and the bass on the bubbles was similar, the Panasonic did sounded richer in my opinion. The colours would bleed when using the Citizen. Then the scene when the machine destroys the house, the Citizen could not create the same sound stage as the two others. The picture was not even close; it was almost like watching a different movie. I would have to say that not all DVD Players are created equal.
My friend’s Marantz did give him some problems reading some disc after a little while; he has purchased a new DVD player. The Citizen is still working, we sent it to my bother-in-law who lives in the heat of South America, and my Panasonic works like a charm. By the way, I purchased the Panasonic at a furniture store clearance centre for a ¼ of the retail price, which sat in the store for almost two years at the mercy of pushy sales persons and children’s little hands. Even at ¼ of the price, I can’t really afford to replace my DVD player every year or so. And since the LiteOn 166 and 167 are not in production any more, I’m not comfortable with looking for a new DVD-ROM every year. Hence the use of the only CD/DVD lens cleaner that I am aware that works without ruining your lens.
(I hope that this is not too long winded)

I’ve never had good luck just brushing the lense off. Most of the time, if there’s enough crap on the lense to keep the device from reading, it’s stuck to the point it needs to be cleaned that way. I’ve used the soft camera lense duster brushes with the bubble on them to blow the dust off. It works OK if the dust didn’t get a chance to stick, but if it’s been there a while, it tends to bond to the lense. So It needs a solvent, and a light scrub with a Q-tip. Yep, you have to be very careful, and I certainly wouldn’t try it while I was drunk. I’ve only hosed one piece of equipment like that. I was cleaning a clarion car 6 disc changer, and the mechanism was spring loaded. It popped back into position while I was cleaning the laser, and it shover the Q-tip down hard on the laser. It busted the suspension mechanism for the laser lense. I learned that you have to jam something in there to keep it from moving after that! They’re pretty forgiving, you just can’t put a lot of pressure on them. The electromagnets allign the lense anyways, so only if you bend the springs out of shape will it get knocked out of allignment. It’s the best method I’ve found for cleaning stuff, and it’s worked for me for years. :iagree:

Yes, and forcing a CPU into a motherboard socket can damage both.
It’s pretty obvious that anyone who can’t insert CPU’s correctly won’t have the mental capacity in building/maintaining his other system components.
And if you really do plan on chugging some beers/alcohol before inserting a CPU, any problem is your fault and not the hardware.

Case in point, if you really don’t know how to rub gently with something as SOFT as cotton, then don’t waste your time trying to maintain your player.

I can’t really afford to replace my DVD player every year or so. And since the LiteOn 166 and 167 are not in production any more, I’m not comfortable with looking for a new DVD-ROM every year. Hence the use of the only CD/DVD lens cleaner that I am aware that works without ruining your lens.
(I hope that this is not too long winded)

Replacing/Cleaning every year?
If that is what really happens to your drives/players, then I’d question the quality of your manufacturers/hardware.

Even drives I’ve used actively for 4-5+ years have never required lens cleaning or replacement.

Good point

Good point again.

None of my lenses have ever been replaced, nor have I ever heard of someone replacing a lens. What I have seen is problems with picture and sound quality due to dusty stereo systems, which includes the inside of amps covered in dust, tape decks with dirty heads, dusty turntable cartridges which distort the sound, and also the above mentioned dusty CD/DVD players and optical drives. If you have no problems with dust or are unaware of any problems with dust, then great! For me, I have seen and heard the problems that dust can cause, and my point is that there are ways to prevent audio/video distortion which will provide a better picture and sound.
But I am unsure what drinking beer while installing a CPU has to do with this subject?

Not sure how dusty cartridges distort sound, maybe you meant a dirty stylus?

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye. /.

I was using that as an anology with these statements.

With my luck after a few beers I’ll put in a Led Zeppelin DVD and the player requires cleaning.

Yep, you have to be very careful, and I certainly wouldn’t try it while I was drunk.

Analogies are for illustration, not argument.

Madness is the ability to make fine distinctions among different kinds of nonsense /.

lol @ pipe.

what’s with the arguing in here…buy a new one or clean the old one…to each his/her own…nothing we say or write here is gonna change the current state of electronics manufacturing.

Here, here, :smiley: :smiley: :bigsmile:

My intent was not to argue, but it sure looks that way. Anyway, if anyone reads these post, they will have enough info to decide if it’s better to clean or pruchase new. No hard feelings Lothario.

All these posts, and noone has mentioned smoking. Out of all the game consoles and dvd players I’ve messed with, I find that smokers’ lens dirty up real quick, while non-smokers lenses work until they get too weak. (think ps2) What I’d really like to know is, has anyone seen an illustrated diagram that shows how to disassemble a pc dvd drive? I have a Lite-On that must have nicotine and tar built up fierce. I try to take it apart and guess what! I can’t get to the lens until I figure out how to safely remove it from the sled. I’m assuming there’s no way to come in from the top, right?

Hi nick,

In the first post, where that link goes to, they mention about the smoking, probably why noone here mentioned it.

As far as taking apart your drive to access the lens. First, open the tray, either manually by sticking something (preferably one of those L-shaped tools that come with many drives, but you could use a paperclip as well) into the small lock release hole in the front, or open it before you shut the pc down and unplug it (easier). Other wise, you can’t take the front plastic bezel off, and it should come off to take apart the casing easier. Now the front bezel you can release by gently pushing the small plastic clips around the sides of it.

Now you can take apart the metal casing. There should be 4 screws that hold the casing together, take those out. Now pull off the metal cover, (and I think this is what you’re talking about?—>>), you notice that the lens is still on the other side, and still not accessible.

I’ve only seen a couple drives like this, but SOMETIMES there will be 4 more screws now that will release the main drive unit from the metal housing. But USUALLY in almost every case, the main drive unit is already loose, and can now be taken out. All you do, is turn it upside down, so that the main drive “falls out” of the metal housing. Of course be very carefull to “catch” it, and watch where your fingers touch. Try not to touch any chips, metal contacts, etc. keep your fingers on either plastic or metal casing parts if you can.

Sometimes they need a little help dropping out, like VERY slightly flexing out the metal casing so the drive can release to fall out. But usually it’s pretty easy to get the drive totally out and clean, just always be careful and gentle of what you’re doing. Of course doing any of this voids any warranty if you still had one. I also totally agree with Deer Slayer, the more dust that gets in to the drive, the faster it will die from cleaning issues. Also I would say that some people feed their drives too many dirty discs, if you feed your drive crap, you’re gonna get crap back from it soon. I have also fixed quite a few drives just by cleaning them. Most of the time for me, it’s been that the lens needs to be cleaned, or the round rubber tire that spins the disc needs cleaning. With the rubber tire, from what I’ve noticed that if it gets too dirty, it can spin the disc at improper speeds because it has no grip. It will usually react exactly the same as a dirty lens, by maybe telling you theres no disc inserted, or just giving very bad performance and/or errors.

Wow, that bit of insight was all I needed. Who woulda thought I needed to take off the bezel? LoL.