Optical drives acting in bizarre fashion

Microsoft Windows home premium 7
March 23, 2013 at 03:16:12
Specs: Windows 7, Intel Q6600 / 4GB
OK I know they are cheap and easy to replace but for the sake of my sanity, I need to understand this!

My Dell XPS720 shipped with a DVD reader (Toshiba TS-H353B) and DVD writer (Sony Optiarc AD-5170S). I've not hammered them, utilised DVD Fab and Clone DVD for making backups of around 30 purchased discs and Imgburn for producing maybe 50 discs from torrent files. Never had a problem burning at up to 16x, in fact coasters were non-existent. I use compressed air sensitively every six months or so to clean the drives.

Until recently I've always bought DVD+R (or RW) blank discs as that is the format used by the PVR connected to my television. However last week I bought a large spindle pack of Sony DVD-R discs on offer at an irresistible price in my local supermarket.

And now... any DVDs created from ISOs or built from VIDEO_TS folders aren't recognised by either drive, even the one that burnt them. Windows Explorer eventually crashes, the analytical program CDRoller does too. But if I pop the discs into my girlfriends laptop or her PVR, they play perfectly. I can still use both drives simultaneously to copy discs via DVDFab or CloneDVD though again, neither recognises the end product.

Blank discs and ones created in the DVD+R format are instantly recognised by my machine, can watch films without glitches. Further strange thing, if I use Imgburn, or BurnAware Professional to create a data disc/DVD containing an x264 video file the process seems to complete efficiently but the disc is then deemed to be corrupt in my machine, girlfriends laptop or work PC.

Any ideas on what is causing this? Don't think it's a virus, I installed Kaspersky immediately after buying the PC and do regular sweeps using Adaware too. When I run "diskmgmt.msc" with any DVD-R media present, the file system of both drives is stated to be RAW, if that is relevant...

Thanks in advance!

Forgive me if I occasionally ask silly questions. I'm only human!

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March 23, 2013 at 07:57:33
Your drives are 6 or 7 years old. Blowing out dust is good but the real issues with all burners are the following.

First, the lens covering each laser (there are 2, DVD & CD), can get dirty from soot created by the burning process. This makes it harder for the laser to burn good pits and to read the pits previously burned.

Second, the lasers can and do weaken with age, causing the same affect as above.

Try a lens cleaning kit or remove the drive, take off top cover and clean the lens with alcohol.

Try burning at a slower speed to see if that helps.

You may have a spindle of disks made with inferior materials too.

Most likely it is a combination of the above.

There are firmware updates for that burner. Keep in mind you may brick it when flashing.

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March 23, 2013 at 17:08:30
Thanks for the reply Othehill,

I bought the machine new directly from Dell in April 2008 and didn't use it until August that year because of moving home, I know it's still pretty ancient in computing terms though!

Must admit I've not cleaned the lens for at least a year so will try that.

There was a firmware update for the DVD reader and I've applied it already, unfortunately the Sony website states that firmware updates for the Optiarc AD-5170S cannot be used on drives provided by OEM vendors. Dell haven't bothered to produce one of their own so I'm stuck with the current version.

Anyway, thanks again for the response.

Forgive me if I occasionally ask silly questions. I'm only human!

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March 23, 2013 at 20:39:15
Try the lower burn speed. If you want the disks to last longer burning at a slower speed should produce a better product.

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