Verbatim killed my NEC ND-3550A...?

Hi everyone -

I’ve spent some time looking around at all the helpful tips, and trying to find someone else with a similar problem, but no luck. The other forums had too much stuff I couldn’t understand, so I thought I’d better start off as a Newbie.

I have an old HP, Pentium III, with only 256 MB of RAM, running Win2k, don’t know if that’s relevant. DMA is enabled.

I got this NEC ND-3550A two months ago. Burned a CD at top speed right away, no problem, but was never able to do that again. I’ve had to keep cutting the speed down over the last two months until, at the last point that I could burn a CD, I was down to 1x. But I could still burn them until a couple of days ago.

I didn’t expect much from the Legacy brand blank DVDs I got with the burner, but they didn’t do too badly. Data DVDs always had cyclic redundancy errors, according to CDCheck, on about the last 30% of the data burned onto them, so I stopped trying to use DVDs for data and started just backing up my movies. Got a few coasters, got a few good ones, but most of what I burned came out with a couple of bad spots during playback. So I got a stack of Verbatim DVD-R 8x because I’d heard they were the best.

Well, now the burner doesn’t work at all! It would not recognize the Verbatim discs at any point. Alcohol 120% and CDBurnerXP Pro 3 both said, respectively, “no disc” and “disc is not empty” on each of about 15 blank Verbatims that I tried. (I’ve had both applications installed for a while now and never had any problems before this. Alcohol seems to do a better job burning ISOs.)

Thinking it was a bad batch, I went out and got some TDK DVD-R 8x, burned one DVD flawlessly, then I got a “No Seek Complete” error, then it started telling me “no disc” again. It was at that point that I tried to burn a CD to see if I still could. Same problem - “no disc” or “disc full”. These were TDK CD-R.

THEN I got some canned air, took the burner out, removed the cover (it’s past warranty anyway), and sprayed it with compressed air. I couldn’t see anything that looked like a lens, so I didn’t touch it (and anyway, half the people tell you it’s okay to clean the lens with a brush or a Q-tip, and the other half say you should NEVER EVER touch the lens EVER). Put everything back together.

After that, I put in an ultra-cheap DVD (nexxtech 8x) to see what would happen. It started to burn, got about 15% in, then the drive started making horrible screeching noises, then I got a “No Seek Complete” error and the burn failed. And we’re back to “no disc” no matter what brand I use.

Fortunately the drive still reads discs (for now!), but it’s always been very noisy.

What’s happened? Is it garbage? How could it only last 2 months? Everyone raves about this thing. I wish I’d returned it when I first had to start cutting down the writing speed! I’ll know better in the future!

Any suggestions are welcome, I’ve done everything I could think of and I’m desperate! Thanks for reading this far -

christinenyc :confused:

Sure sounds like your drive has been steadily failing since day one. :frowning:

Some of the problems you mentioned could be caused by bad media or a dirty lense, but if your drive makes a squealing sound – that is definitely a mechanical problem that won’t be fixed by changing media type, especially if the drive has “always been noisy.” I would contact the dealer and see if you can get a replacement under warranty. Even OEM drives are usually warrented for longer than two months…

The NEC ND-3550 is a very good drive but a small percentage do turn out to be DOA or have early failures. If your PC has a weak power supply, that could have also led to your drive’s early failure. (Do you have any other optical drives still working well in that system?)

That sounds right to me too. What is the brand and model of your power supply?

Verbatim killed your NEC? :rolleyes: :confused: :bigsmile: :doh:
I doubt it deeply.

256mb ram is no good start, especially not for burning on dvd.

PSU trouble or cable problems sounds more logic here.

Thank for your post I had the same problem with my NEC ND-3500A ! could never work it out what killed it, now I know !!! They don’t build drives like they used to !!!

Yes I would buy a new drive! Something like a Lite-On :slight_smile:

I use a NEC 3550A with a PIII @ 500MHz and 192MB memory, successfully :slight_smile: Never had a DVD+R write fail, on Verbatims. The Riteks I’ve tested have been ok too. I burn at 8x max, but most of the time at 4x or 6x.

There could be many reasons for the failure, many already mentioned. Weak power supply, faulty drive going worse all the time, a dirty disc inserted (and I don’t mean dirty with dust, more like…coca cola or something:) ), DMA actually being disabled even if Windows say it’s enabled, etc. Faulty IDE cable.

I’d try the drive in another computer, if possible, or just buy a new drive. They aren’t that expensive these days, especially when burning data backups I’d hate to see family photos etc disappear due to a crap burner.

@ christinenyc,

Welcome to the Forum.

I seriously doubt that Verbatim Media “Killed” your DVD Burner.

Perchance have ensured that you don’t have any software programs running in the background like invasive Anti-Virus and/or Packet Writing software, which interferes with burning operations.

Have you ensured that you have curtailed all background actives and Multi-Tasking when conducting burning operations?

Have you ensured that have defragmented your Hard Drive? Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter.

Have you ensured that have your IDE Channels configure correctly? Nero Info Tool ( is a good utility software tool that will display IDE Channel configuration.

Have you ensured that your DMA Channels are configured correctly? Suggest viewing the below Forum Posting and note Forum Member ireland’s (posting #4) comments concerning setting DMA.

Using known cheap quality media is just asking for problems. Only use top of the line known quality media.

Suggest viewing the below PC World article concerning DVD Burner Firmware.

Have you ensured that your NEC ND-3550A DVD Burner has the most up to date current Firmware installed?

The above items are suggestions to check before assuming that NEC ND-3550A DVD Burner was failed.

Best Regards,

Thank you all for your replies, and especially your welcomes and suggestions!

Here are my responses:

  • I know Verbatim discs couldn’t really have killed my drive, but it sure seems like it! :stuck_out_tongue:

  • The noise - it rattles, makes a buzzsaw noise, and occasionally squeaks or screeches, and did all that straight out of the box. Most reviews of the 3550 mention the noise but never describe it, so I just thought it was normal.

  • Power supply - um, I think it’s a Delta Electronics model DPS - 200PB - 89 REV - at least that’s what it says on the side of the thing inside there… How can I tell if it’s “weak”, and what does that mean anyway?

  • I never run anything else while burning, because even with the old drive, that would always result in failure. I have nothing running in the background and regularly defrag, especially when the burner’s having trouble.

Strangely, it seems like I got better results if I used the burner after the pc had been on and working for a good few hours, and always got a failure if I tried to burn something first thing in the morning.

  • Sorry - forgot to say that I updated the firmware from NEC’s site, which didn’t improve anything, then tried the Liggy and Dee version from here, after which the drive screeched and complained to a frightening degree, so I reflashed the drive with the manufacturer’s thingie and it went back to “normal”, meaning, no improvement but not so much screeching.

  • I’ll take a longer look at the IDE and DMA issues. :eek: That article on DMA stuff seemed like it was mostly for XP, though.

  • I don’t have access to another computer to test the drive in, unfortunately.

  • My old burner gradually stopped working, too, but not the same symptoms - just more and more failures until finally I was producing mostly coasters and got the 3550 to replace it. It was an HP CD-Writer Plus 8100 series and only burned CDs, of course.

Seems like there’s no point in getting a new drive until I can figure out whether the burner, cables, power supply, or the pc itself are to blame, and I don’t know how I can ever really know that. Thank you all for your attention! Let me know if any of my responses give anybody any ideas!


That sounds pretty terminal to me.

Some drives are noisy but not like this, it’s normally just a high speed whirring when the drive speeds up.

Assuming this was a new drive then a replacement is definitely in order.

Thats pretty much what I was thinking. Of course it doesn’t cost anything but a little time to trouble shoot it if she likes.
The reason that I ask what brand and model of power supply, is that a cheap power supply, especially one that is too small, can defanatlly cause a burner (or anything else in your system) to prematurlly die. I seriouslly doubt it was the verbatim media. The power supply might be something to look at (not defanatlly the cause, just something that should be looked into). If it is the power supply, it could kill another new drive (or other things too). Seeing as it is an older computer, it increases the chances that the power supply is too small.
While the noises do point to a dead drive, something else you can check out after you have tried some of the more basic stuff (firmware, dma settings, try a different ide channel, investigate what software you are using), is the possibility of a bad ide cable. I have seen that cause all kinds of odd problems and it is defanatlly a hard to diagnose problem. If all else fails, try a diffrent cable.

Well, I just asked for and received an RMA from the site where I bought it, so I guess they’ll send me a new one. Hopefully it was just a bad drive and I don’t kill the new one, too. It definitely made bad noises right away, and they’re definitely worse now. I just tried it and all it does is screech, it won’t even read a disc now.

Regarding the power supply - how much is “too small”? And what units of measurement are we talking about? How do I troubleshoot the power supply? …This thread is very helpful:

Regarding media - barring a cola spill or something like that, is it possible for media to damage an optical drive? Doesn’t seem logical to me (in spite of my subject line) but what do I know?

And regarding the IDE cable - is that the flat grey ribbon cable? Because that could very well be a problem. The spatial configuration inside this pc is extremely bad - everything is crammed on one side, and the ribbon cable that leads to the optical drive is basically folded over on itself - the interior was designed that way, and I’ve been assured that that’s what that kind of cable was meant to do. But maybe it wasn’t meant to do it for over 4 years? :o Could a worn-out IDE cable produce symptoms like mine? And could it be the cable that’s bad, not the drive?

Argh… Guess I’ll try a new cable before I return the drive, just to see… and price power supplies. I’ll buy a new computer sometime this year (I hope), I can always use the new power supply in the new 'puter, right?

Thanks again!


As far as the power supply, there really is no perfect formula. the thread you linked to has several posts from me so any general recomendations on checking out your power supply that I could give are probablly there (I would be more than happy to answer any specific questions though). Basically you need to find out what you power supply is. We can tell you it’s quality (many found in prebuilt computers are not that great).
Use a power supply calculator to try to determine aprox how much power your computer uses based on what is in it.
Then basically see if your power supply seems to put out enough power in watts for whats in your computer (and we can tell you if your power supply is good enough to put out the power that it claims to). these are only aproxamate numbers (the only way to know exactlly how much power your system uses would be to use an amp meter and run a bunch of difficult tests to determine exactlly what every part uses).
It will probably be more like, it is defanatlly to small, it is a little small and could cause issues, it seems big enough but barlly, a biger one might be a good idea, it is big enough, or it as pleanty big enough for what you have plus upgrades.
One east test you can do is use a multi meter and test the voltages (see the other thread and if you cannot find the info let me know), or even easier but not as accurate is use software like motherboard monitor to check voltages (your hardware has to be able to report voltages for this to work, try and see).

I highly doubt that even cheap media would have killed the drive.

I think the second one is beter as it goes a little deeper into the exact equipment in your system, but the first might have more appropriate options with an older computer (not sure).

As far as the ide cable, they can be folded over but not a sharp bend (you want a curved bend). If there is a sharp bend, it could have damaged the wires. Also, the wires inside are very fine. On an old cable, sometimes even pulling the conector out by the wires can damage it (it often wont but it can). I have never heard of a cable making a drive make noises like that and do not suspect it is the problem, but I have seen bad cables cause all kinds of wierd problems so who knows. If you already have an rma, I would just get it replaced.

As far as getting a power supply and will it work in a new computer, I would check out the one you have to see if it suspect. I cannot remember when they quit using at power supplys (all are atx now). They are not interchangable. Look for a wide white conector that goes to the motherboard. If it is a two piece conector (6 wires to each if I recall right) it is an at power supply, if it is a single conector with two rows of wires (20 wires), it is an atx. If it is an at, you might have quite a bit of dificulty even finding one and it probably wouldn’t be worth what you would have to pay for it. If it is atx, then a new power supply will work in it as well as a new computer.

Thank you so much for your time, ripit. I’m thinking it was a bad burner in a bad system. This is my current power supply:

  • except I think on the side of the one I have here (obviously I can’t see it right now…) I’m pretty sure it says “output will not exceed 120W” - holy heatsink!! Is that even possible? 200W sounds right considering how long I’ve had it and where I acquired it. And there’s not that much going on in there, so I guess it hasn’t really needed more power, according to the first power supply calculator you linked to (my machine is too old for the second one!). Somehow I’ve been running this thing every day for about five years. Hope it can make it a couple more weeks till I figure out if I should buy a new one, or try to improve this one (at 450MHz, is it even worth it?).

At least it looks like I do have ATX so I’m good if I go ahead and buy a new power supply. NewEgg still has the ones you linked to in the thread I mentioned above. When I do that I might as well just get a new IDE cable, as they’re cheap and a new one can’t hurt.

Okay - at least now I know something I didn’t know before - thank you!!


How much did the first power supply calculator say that you needed? I am not personally farmiliar with this brand, but after a little searching, form what I can tell, they seem to be pretty good power supply’s (it can probably really output the 200 watts it claims). Anyone farmiliar with delta power supplys?
200 watts would be way to small for a modern system, but it might be big enough for that old system (meaning the power supply might not be suspect in killing the drive). If you want to get a bigger one, it cannot hurt and it can only help, but might not be nesasary right now for that system (thats why I ask what the calculator told you).
there should be a label that give specifications on your current power supply (amperage on the diffrent voltage rails).