CD ROM blues

Peter Stanhope, Training Officer at the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association (ASCCA) answers this tricky question about how best to fix a CD ROM.

Q. Dee
My CD Rom drive will not read the discs. I am running XP (came pre-installed on my 2002 machine). The problem started last year and after much chatting with the nice support people at HP, I still have the same problem. I have updated the registries, made sure that the CD drive was showing in the BIOS, reseated the IDE cables and probably more than I can remember at this point. Device manager is showing that the device is ‘working properly’; however, when I insert either data or music discs, the system doesn’t respond. The drive door opens though. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

A. By coincidence, I have had a similar problem to the one you describe. The drive would spin, the busy light would come on, but the CD drive could not read the disk. My problem turned out to be a faulty laser light, so the drive would not read the disk. Because computer technicians commonly charge $75–$100 per hour, I found it was cheaper to replace the drive than to have it repaired. Since you appear to have no problem opening up your computer and getting into the internals, you too will find it cheaper to replace your CD or DVD drive than to have it repaired.

You should be aware that it’s very difficult to buy a new CD drive these days, as they are no longer manufactured. DVD drives are backwards compatible with CDs and are just as cheap. I have seen new DVD drives as low as $22 in the markets, but shop prices are more like $32–$40.

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