cd drive keeps being accessed at startup

Dell Dimension e510 desktop - customizab...
May 25, 2010 at 06:43:22
Specs: Windows XP
The computer is shut down at night. In the morning, when we turn it on, the CD drive starts being polled every other second and the green light indicates it along with the accessing sound. Windows tries to come up but is hung over this accessing of the drive. We used to see the Windows screen at start-up, now it sits at a black screen while this infinite polling loop is going on. Also, this problem used to last only a few minutes and then the computer would manage to come up. I timed it today: it now took 15 minutes until it managed to get out of this loop and come up. So there is definitely a worsening of the problem with time. We checked for malware and viruses but none have been detected. Tried restoring to a point in time where everything worked fine. The problem reoccurs after a couple of days. I should also mention that each time this problem occurred we tried to open the CD drive's door, to no avail. Today, after waiting 15 minutes for the mad loop to end, I pressed the eject button on the drive and held it a few seconds. The door did open, and Windows managed to come up a moment after that (have no idea if by coincidence or not).
Thanks for any help you could give me.

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#1
May 25, 2010 at 07:46:34
It sounds like the cdrom is going.
You might try going into the bios and change the boot order.
from A: D: C:.....to A: C: D:

Making the cdrom the last boot device. If that fixes the problem, then a new cdrom is in order.


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#2
May 25, 2010 at 12:52:23
Thank you for your response. We will look into that and write an update on the outcome.

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#3
May 25, 2010 at 14:10:55
I forgot to mention previously that my desktop is a Dell Dimension E510.

I had to do a restart to get into the BIOS. No manifestation this time of the out-of-control CD-ROM polling, so the problem is definitely erratic. Anyway, I went into the BIOS Boot Sequence option and found the following settings:

1. Onboard or USB Floppy Drive (not present)
2. Onboard SATA Hard Drive
3. Onboard IDE Hard Drive (not present)
4. Onboard or USB CD-ROM drive
5. USB Device (not present)

Didn't know what to do at this point. If your intention is to move the CD-ROM drive to position 5, I don't know how to do that. It seems the only thing I can do is to enter each item and switch its status between 'on' and 'off'.

I also looked at Drives and found the following:

Diskette drive
Drive 0: SATA-0
Drive 1: SATA-2
Drive 2: PATA-0
Drive 3: PATA-1

I appreciate further guidance.


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Related Solutions

#4
May 25, 2010 at 18:06:25
The boot drive priority looks OK--the hard drive is coming before the cdrom. Possibly there's some other bios setting that's contributing to the problem so you may want to check the manual. Otherwise, as already mentioned, it sounds like a problem with the cdrom.

A problem with the OS is possible but not likely. Can you boot to safe mode OK?

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#5
May 26, 2010 at 08:09:53
Per your recommendation, I entered Safe Mode. The polling started (I could hear it) but it only lasted 20 seconds or so, then it quit. The screen was black and filled with various driver definitions. Then the comp. came up in Safe Mode.
I then did a Restart, there was no polling, Windows came up successfully. This is baffling.

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#6
May 26, 2010 at 09:19:26
i think you want to move your cdrom to 5 position but this task is not done by all. it is done by some special form of technique which better know the computer engineer.

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#7
May 26, 2010 at 11:59:38
Is it still going into normal mode OK or was it just that one time?

If it's still going on the only thing I can think of is to try another cdrom. If you still have the problem then the cdrom is not the problem.

Well, in case it is some software that's the problem, once you get to the desktop try temporarily disabling anti virus and anti malware software. Then reboot and see what happens.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#8
May 26, 2010 at 13:02:07
It is still going into Normal and Safe mode just fine. I noticed that as soon as I get the black screen, in those few moments before Windows starts coming up again, I can hear the CD drive being polled. Now it only polled for about 5 - 6 seconds and it stopped.
Tried entering Safe mode again and it only polled once, then came up just fine.
I didn't find a way to temporarily disable the anti virus and anti malware programs.

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#9
May 26, 2010 at 16:12:27
If it seems to be working OK maybe just leave it alone. I have no idea why going into safe mode once could help.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#10
May 26, 2010 at 21:40:40
We were watching a DVD in that drive tonight and in the middle of the show the screen froze. I tried, repeatedly, to open the drive and remove the disk, but it would not open. Polling was taking place... I did a <Ctrl> <ALT> <DEL> and stopped the Windows Media process running the disk. Then I tried opening the drive door again, this time successfully.
We'll just have to wait and see how this issue will manifest next.

Thanks to all who have contributed guidance.


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#11
May 26, 2010 at 22:27:48
So it occurs both with your DVD rom and cd rom?

Something must be polling the optical drives. Either antivirus/anti malware or something else. Check in msconfig and task scheduler and see if anything looks likely.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#12
May 27, 2010 at 08:04:00
Sorry, my previous message wasn't complete: the problem does NOT occur with the DVD-ROM; only with the CD-ROM. Last night, after I was able to open the CD-ROM drive, I placed the disk in the DVD-ROM drive and we were able to finish viewing the movie.
And, BTW, after the usual shut-down for the night the comp. came up fine this morning (no more polling of the CD-ROM).

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#13
May 27, 2010 at 11:49:42
Ok, but I'm not sure I get it yet. You couldn't have been watching a DVD movie in a cdrom.

But in any event, it's got to be a quirky drive that needs replacing or software that's periodically accessing the drive.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#14
May 27, 2010 at 18:44:24
I can view movies and play music CDs with the drive in question, but can't burn disks. The other drive, which doesn't exhibit the polling problem, IS able to burn disks.
Yes, we too were thinking a few days ago that maybe it's some setting in an application that is doing this. After looking at some processes that were running when the polling occurred, we thought they belonged to Real Player (judging by the abbreviated process names). We removed Real Player from the program list. Soon thereafter, the polling showed up again and that's when I decided to post a message on this problem and see what opinions I got.

Many thanks, again.


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#15
May 27, 2010 at 19:26:16
Maybe you have a DVD player and a DVD burner as you can't access a DVD disk in a regular cdrom.

If both optical drives are on the same cable maybe that's somehow related to the problem. You might try disconnecting the drive that doesn't have the problem and then see if the problem drive works better.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#16
May 27, 2010 at 20:16:57
The top (bad) one must be a DVD-R and the good one must be a DVD-RW.
Will keep you posted with what we do next.

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#17
May 28, 2010 at 07:59:45
This morning, as soon as I pressed the start button on the tower, the mad polling started. I tried, repeatedly, to hold down the eject button of the DVD-R tray, but of course it wouldn't open. The polling went on and on for about 25 minutes. At a loss for what to do next, we rapped on the eject button of the offending drive. It DID open!
We blew the dust from inside it, then did repeated tray opening and closing exercises, which all worked. We will monitor this and see what we experience in the next few days. If the problem doesn't return, we then have to conclude that we no longer have to buy a new drive. It would surely be a happy ending to an annoying problem. Will keep you posted.
Thanks.

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#18
May 28, 2010 at 08:56:23
Hope it works out.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#19
May 31, 2010 at 18:07:38
On Saturday the polling began as soon as the computer was powered up and it lasted about 40 minutes. After Windows came up the polling continued for a while (until now, the polling would stop when Windows came up). Yesterday and today, no more polling... We will watch it for a while longer, but it's beginning to look like we'll have to buy a new drive.

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#20
June 5, 2010 at 10:55:45
Today the computer exhibited a new behavior, which I will present below.

Upon being turned on in the morning, after a night-long shutdown:

No polling
Two consecutive beeps
Black screen with the following information presented:

Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS Version 1.10 A05
Copyright 1985-1988 Phoenix Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1990-2006 Dell Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Dell DM051 Series
BIOS version A05
www.dell.com

Drive 2 not found: Parallel ATA, PATA-0 (PRI IDE Master)
Drive 3 not found: Parallel ATA, PATA-1 (PRI IDE Slave)
Strike the F1 Key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility.

I pressed F2 and looked into the BIOS but didn't know what I should change and how, so I exited BIOS setup. Windows managed to come up after approx. 2-3 minutes.

The second time today, after a half hour shutdown, upon being turned on:

No polling
No beeping
Black screen with the same message as above

This time I pressed the F1 key and Windows came up.


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#21
June 5, 2010 at 11:30:47
From your # 3 you have a SATA hard drive so apparently the error is not about it. The 'PATA not found' is probably about the DVD drives. I forget, did you try a different data cable for them?

The error indicates a hardware--not software--problem is more likely. Either the cable or a flakey drive.

You're not really green until you're soylent green.


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#22
June 5, 2010 at 13:48:05
If the optical drives are configured in the boot order it is normal for the drive to activate for a short period of time.

If there is something wrong with the offending drive you should be able to test it by inserting a non bootable CD in it and rebooting. See if it then boots OK with just a few seconds of polling.

Worst case scenario is to buy a new drive if you feel the need for two. They are disposable hardware.


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#23
June 5, 2010 at 15:52:32
We didn't try a different data cable.
When we had a CD in the culprit drive, every time the computer came up, the polling started. Not only that, but you can't open the drive tray. I noticed that regardless of whether there is a CD in this drive or not, when the polling occurs you can't open the tray.
Today I was looking at various sites on the internet, and all of a sudden the polling started. It's been going on for some minutes now and is still at it, undeterred.

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#24
June 5, 2010 at 16:06:36
When an optical drive is seeking data it is normal for you to not be able to open the tray.

Did you try placing a disk in that drive and leaving it there to see what happens then? Try a blank CDR.


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#25
June 5, 2010 at 18:37:04
I wanted to insert a blank CD-R into that drive. No polling but I can't open the tray. I've tried depressing and holding the eject button a number of times, with no success. I then tried depressing it in rapid succession a few times but it still didn't open.

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#26
June 5, 2010 at 20:47:01
How long are you waiting before trying to eject the disk? If more than a minute and still no joy then pitch the drive.

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#27
June 6, 2010 at 06:55:24
Indeed... The drive likes to take a CD hostage, and I try for a few minutes to release it. Sometimes it allows me to do so, sometimes it refuses no matter what.
This morning I performed the following experiment:

- Turned on the computer
- Inserted blank CD-R in the drive
- Windows came up
- I was able to go to places on the internet; after a few minutes, the polling started
- With the CD still inserted I selected Restart;
Windows started to close but got hung up at the point which shows the Windows logo and "Windows logging off".
- After about 6 minutes or so I decided to do a power shutdown and break the stalemate
- I turned the computer back on (the CD still in the drive). It came up polling and it is still doing that after 8 minutes or so, but Windows did come up
- No matter what I do, the drive now won't let me open the tray


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#28
June 6, 2010 at 07:00:45
It is possible the drive's laser is sensing a disk even when non is present. This might be caused by a dirty laser lens. If you feel like playing with the drive you can clean the lens two ways. One is with a lens cleaning kit. The second is to disassemble the drive and clean the lens with alcohol.

If the drive is relatively old I would bother with it. You can pick up a new faster drive for about $30.


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#29
June 6, 2010 at 14:05:42
The drive is about 4 years old, so we'll probably not bother playing with it but rather have it replaced.
Many thanks to all who have helped with guidance and suggestions and helped us succeed in nailing the culprit.

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#30
June 6, 2010 at 14:16:34
There is no compelling reason to have two optical drives. You can copy disks using only one.

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#31
June 6, 2010 at 16:41:11
True.
The two drives were part of our computer when we bought it: the upper drive is a read-only (the one that's been giving us the problems). The lower drive is the one that can also write, and so far has been working without problems.

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