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Troubleshooting a Laptop CD Drive

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Your notebook’s CD drive is one of the first components to go belly up. A dead lens is the main reason behind an optical drive’s failure to read or write data to a CD. Another reason might be a damaged drive belt, but it can be replaced with a new one. An average optical drive lasts for a year and stops functioning because the laser wears out or slips out of alignment.

If your notebook’s optical drive stops reading or writing data, then you should replace it with a new drive. However, you can easily fix a laptop CD drive if there is a minor software or hardware problem. This guide will assist you in troubleshooting your notebook’s optical drive.

1. Use Microsoft Fixit

Microsoft’s very own software fix allows users to fix CD/DVD drive problems. Install and run this program if any of the following problems occurs:

  • Your notebook optical drive is disabled
  • The optical drive cannot read data
  • It cannot write data to a CD or DVD
  • No CD/DVD drive icon
  • The optical drive driver is missing or corrupt

Visit Microsoft’s official Fixit site and click on the Run button to download the program on your desktop.

  1. Double-click on the installer. Once ready, it will ask you to accept the terms and conditions. Click on Accept. The installer will download a diagnostic tool package and the Fixit engine.
  2. You will see two options. Click on the recommended option. The diagnostic will detect problems and apply a patch if it finds any.
  3. Choose your CD/DVD drive. Next, select any one of the two options. If your notebook’s optical drive has reading issues, select the first option. For troubleshooting CD writing issues, select the second option.
  4. The next screen will ask you to insert a readable/writeable media. Based on the choice you have made, insert a writeable/readable CD and then choose the optical drive.
  5. The Fixit engine will detect and troubleshoot problems. Once complete, it will show the completion window with status showing as “Fixed”.
Fixing Registry Entry Errors

Fixing Registry Entry Errors

2. System Registry

Can’t see the CDROM drive on My Computer? Well, the problem might be connected to your Windows system registry. A registry entry may get corrupted by uninstalling CD burning software. Because of this, Windows cannot access the CDROM drive. To fix this, follow these steps:

  1. Start > Run > type REGEDIT and press the Enter key. This will open the registry editor.
  2. Navigate to the registry entry as shown in the screenshot above.
  3. You will find two unwanted entries – UpperFilters and LowerFilters. Right-click each entry and click on Delete. You can also single-click on them and press the delete button to remove them.
  4. Exit the window via the File menu and reboot your notebook. You can now see the CD/DVD icon on My Computer.

Additional Tips

  • Reboot your laptop. When it restarts, quickly press the F8 key. This will initiate the safe mode. Insert CD in your notebook’s optical drive. It may read CDs. I thought my DVD drive was dead, until I switched to safe mode. Now my dead CD drive can read CDs but not DVDs.
  • Update your optical drive’s drivers. Press Start and type Device Manager in the search box. Click on it and choose Disk Drives. Right-click on the ATA drive icon. Click on upgrade driver and then click Search automatically. If there’s an upgrade available, it will be done automatically.
  • A dirty lens might be one of the causes behind failure to read/write data to a CD. A can of compressed air might prove quite handy in removing dust from the optical lens. You can also use a CD drive cleaning disk to remove dust, lint and static from the optical lens.
  • If any of the above tips do not fix your laptop CD drive, consider replacing it with a new one. I would recommend external CD drives. They are quite affordable and last longer than internal optical drives.

Screenshots provided by author.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


mike enis on July 29, 2014:

My laptop [dell inspiron] is showing cd drive instead of dvd drive rw, pls what do I do?

dani on October 16, 2013:

my laptop dvd drive only reading sound &light bliking 10 sec but not working

Anurag (author) on June 04, 2013:


iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on June 03, 2013:

Thanks for your very informative hub. I could anticipate my laptop's CD drive to go nuts anytime (I hope not so soon). this would be my handy guide. Up and useful. :)