Stranger CD/DVD Behavior

Intel / D875bzlk
April 4, 2010 at 14:54:57
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, 2.992 GHz / 2045 MB

I am completely stumped. A few years ago my both my CD and DVD drives started misbehaving simultaneously. Here are the symptoms:

They read discs just fine. However, in "My Computer," the icons and text only show the discs that were present in the drive when the computer was booted. When you open the discs, they display the correct contents, and they otherwise run just fine. Ejecting via software commands or hardware buttons do nothing to update. At first, I did not much care, because they still worked properly; It was a minor annoyance. Therefore, I did not take careful note of what changed on my computer when it happened. Later, however, I found another symptom that I cannot live with: it cannot read its own burned discs.

When I try to burn a disc, everything seems to go over smoothly, at least until it is time read the disc. Windows cannot recognize the disc; It just gives the annoying "Please insert a disc into drive ___" message box. I updated the firmware and the drivers, but that did nothing. I tried a plethora of different burning software (all with the same result).

Another troubling thing is that the burning programs are able to read the discs' properties, but Windows cannot. Furthermore, sometimes the discs write successfully, but very rarely.

Some more info:
-The problem persists regardless of media type, DVD or CD.
-The problem persists regardless of write speed.
-The problem probably does not have anything to do with a virus or background process/service; I am a power user. My lust for efficiency is disturbing to most. So it is more likely that I have disabled some service that is required for this to work. I have looked them over, and checked with web resources, and found no conflicts.
-The faulty discs have data visibly written to them. I have even gone so far as to examine a disc under my microscope; I was not able to see much, but it looks like normal pit-burns and lands to me when I compare them to other discs.
-The programs that write the discs also fail to "Verify" the discs, with the exception of CDBurnerXP, which verifies before ejecting, but the discs verified by this program also fail to be read by Windows.
-The faulty discs cannot be read on other computers, either.
-Again, the problems came about for both drives at the same time, so I find hardware failure very doubtful since no other devices in the computer have started crapping-out on me.

I will be grateful for any help on this matter,



See More: Stranger CD/DVD Behavior

April 4, 2010 at 15:59:07
If they're IDE optical drives, if they're on the same data cable, a problem with one faulty drive can affect the other drive even if the other drive is not faulty when connected by itself.

Try connecting each drive by itself, and see what the symptoms are.

If they're both burner drives, you don't need two optical drives. A combo DVD burner drive can burn both CDs and DVDs. The CPU accesses drives one drive at a time, though it often accesses each drive in turn rapidly. The only time you save while burning when you have two is one can have a disk in one to be read, the other can have a disk in it to burn, and you don't have to take the time to change disks.

All optical drives, like floppy drives, have a sensor or switch that "tells" the operating system when a disk has been changed. Sometimes that malfunctions, usually after the drive has been used a lot

Also, for IDE drives, floppy drives, a single wire of the 34 or 40 or 80 wire data cable can have no connection or a poor connection and just one feature may not work. E.g. I answered a Topic not long ago where only the hard drive activity led did not work for a hard drive for two different people, and changing the IDE data cable cured the problem in both cases. The same may apply to the disk change wire.

The following also applies to floppy data cables.

It is common to un-intentionally damage IDE data cables, especially while removing them - the 80 wire ones are more likely to be damaged. What usually happens is the cable is ripped at either edge and the wires there are either damaged or severed, often right at a connector or under it's cable clamp there, where it's hard to see - if a wire is severed but it's ends are touching, the connection is intermittant, rather than being reliable.
Another common thing is for the data cable to be separated from the connector contacts a bit after you have removed a cable - there should be no gap between the data cable and the connector - if there is press the cable against the connector to eliminate the gap.
80 wire data cables are also easily damaged at either edge if the cable is sharply creased at a fold in the cable.

Try another data cable if in doubt.

Laser lenses get dirty eventually. Have you tried using a laser lens cleaning CD in the drives, at least once in a while, particularly before you burn ?

The most frequent thing that goes wrong with optical drives after they have been used a lot is the sleeve bearings in the drive's motor deteriorate to the point that the motor can no longer spin a disk at the full max speed, and eventually it can't even spin a disk at 1X.

The second most frequent thing that goes wrong with optical drives after they have been used a lot is something goes wrong with a laser or it's circuits - burner drives have at least two.

Optical drives don't last forever, and they're cheaper now than they've ever been. Replace the drive if you can't figure out what's wrong.

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April 22, 2010 at 12:11:10

Both drives were connected to one EIDE cable. I connected them each to their own independent cable. The problem has been isolated to one of the drives, just like you said.

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April 22, 2010 at 13:16:06
We're glad to hear you figured out what the problem was.

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