Why do CDRom's go bad?

October 6, 2005 at 10:33:28

Why do CD Roms go bad? Most drives will have a fairly short life of maybe five to six years. With ones that I have had it seems that they start to fail unexpectingly, normally working one day then not the next. Is it a lens chip set problem? A tolerence issue? A dust issue?

What are simple solutions or repairs to common problems?

This is a common issue that I have never seen a scientific answer, study, or solution to.

I have several computers and have drives that have lasted as long as 11 years that continue to work and others that have started to fail after three. I maintain my equipment well, though despite this some are quitting. Simply just replacing a bad drive with a new is not financially possible.

Thanks in advance,



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October 6, 2005 at 10:38:26

There are many reasons why drives start to go bad. Sometimes it is due to general wear and tear depending on how often the drive gets used and also due to dust and other problems of that nature. Generally, taking these drives apart to clean is not a good idea. Get a lens cleaning kit and use it as often as is recommended. Other things you can do to extend the life of a drive is to make sure it does not get too hot, ie not sandwiching it between other drives, and making sure the conditions it is kept in remain stable. Do these things and you can enjoy years of use from the same drive. If however you find drives failing even after doing this then try taking out an extended warranty so that it can be replaced more easily.




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October 6, 2005 at 11:59:52

If anything I would expect drives (especially optical drives) to go bad more often than other components in a computer. Mainly because they are mechanical devices. Other components are usually just circuit boards and chips. Hard drives are assembled in a dust-free environment and sealed, plus they use sophisticated electronics (magnetics) for the physical movement. However, optical drives are exposed to the elements every time you insert a disc and are, for the most part, completely mechanical. It is built using plastic gears and rubber "bands". Plus they are expected to operate at very high speeds. Disks with cracks have been known to "explode" when used in high-speed drives.

All this being said, I have had maybe 2 drives go bad in the last 10 years out of maybe a dozen or more drives. I do have problems from time to time, but have always been able to fix them. Although the poster above discourages it, I have been able to correct many problems by opening up the drive. Most times it's just a dirty lens (I don't find the lens cleaners effective). However, I have also had an issue where the rubber band had come off the pully and other mechanical parts were "out of whack".

If you are a smoker or a pet owner (or have other contaminants in the area where the PC is operated - e.g. wood burning fireplace, kitchen, etc) then you could have drives go bad more frequently.

Michael J

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October 6, 2005 at 12:03:17

Excellent post by Michael J!

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Related Solutions

October 6, 2005 at 12:42:32

Thanks for the insightful input ham30... Micheal J it looks like you have your very own fan club. Generally it is not a good idea to take anything apart unless you know how to put it back together but if you have the know how then it should be done wherever needed.

I am a pet owner and have found that the optical drives i have can be kept cleaner inside by lining the edge of the cd rom door with thin and easily compressable foam to stop bits of dust and hair from being sucked, or floating into the drive through these gaps as some drives generate quite a few air currents at full speed.




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October 6, 2005 at 13:05:24

One thing I have found with some CD Drives, especially Asus, is that the rails that the head moves on sometimes dry up making it difficult for the head to track the disk.

A couple of drops of machine oil on the rails can often resurrect a failing drive.


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October 6, 2005 at 13:40:55

"Thanks for the insightful input ham30... "

Thanks for the compliment Tautitan. I thought it 'was' insightful, to the point and extremely well said. But all my posts are like that. ;-)

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October 10, 2005 at 15:21:19

For lubricating CDRom drives, would the persons above happen to have any tips on what kind of grease (where any kind of plastic parts may be involved) or old would be suitiable. I will probably post this on another message since this thread is probably fairly barried by now.

I appreaciate the comments made by everybody. I do have some expireance trying to service my own drives, particularly when a cracked Knoopix Live CD shattered in a 52x drive. I was able to clean it and get it servicible again, however, it will never be the same.

It makes sence no to "open up" a drive until their is a reason for it; however, when a drive stops working there is no harm in trying to do a little cleaning. I can see very little reason to dissasemble a drive except for opening a case and gear assemblies can be quite hard to put back together. Just my own thoughts on my own expireance and everybodies advice.

Thank you very much,


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