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ARCHIVED: Why won't my CD or DVD drive recognize my disc?

If your CD/DVD drive is having trouble recognizing a disc:

  1. If you know the disc isn't blank, check whether the data surface is damaged. There will be obvious scratches if the disc is too damaged to read; if there's any doubt, then the surface is probably not damaged enough to be unreadable. An excessively scratched disc will not be read by any device. Polishing kits are available which may restore your disc's readability. However, UITS has not tested any of them, and therefore cannot provide any advice on their effectiveness.

  2. Try a different disc. This will test whether the CD-ROM drive itself is at fault. If multiple discs fail to be recognized, it's likely there is a problem with the CD-ROM drive.

    If you are using Windows XP or newer, you can attempt to boot from the Windows OS installation disc in order to to make an access attempt without an operating system in the way. Booting from the disc involves only the BIOS, the drive, and the boot sector on the disc itself. If you can boot from the disc, but Windows cannot read it, it indicates a problem with your drive or Windows rather than the disc.

    If you have a faulty drive, replace it.

  3. Try the disc in another computer's drive. This will determine only the integrity of the disc, not whether your drive will read it. If your disc still won't work in your drive, but will in another, then continue to the next step. However, if the disc doesn't work in any computer, it's probably defective and should be replaced.

  4. Try cleaning the drive with a CD/DVD drive cleaning product. You should do this only with a product specifically made for this purpose.
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Last modified on January 07, 2013.

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