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CD-ROM Problems

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CD-ROM Problems

By Stephen Bucaro

Today there are many forms of CD (compact disc) media.
CD-RW allows you to over-write previous data. CD-R is
one-time recordable. This article focuses on problems with
standard CD-ROMs (read only media), but some of the
information also applies to the recordable forms.

A CD-ROM is written by etching "pits" into the surface of
the disc. To read a CD, a laser beam is directed at the
disc as it spins inside the drive. The areas between the
pits, called "lands", reflect more light than the pits.
A sensor in the drive reads the data by measuring the
amount of reflected light.

Most problems with CD-ROMs are caused by mishandling.
Fingerprints and scratches on the surface of the CD cause
electrical noise when read in the drive. Never touch the
recorded surface of a CD-ROM, always hold it by the edges.
Never put a label on a CD-ROM, this can cause it to vibrate
because of an imbalance.

Use the following troubleshooting guide.

Can't Read CD-ROM

First check the obvious. Try another CD-ROM in the drive.
If you have another computer, try the first CD-ROM in the
other computer.

Recordable CDs are made differently than regular CD-ROMS.
Instead of etching pits into the surface of the disc, heat
is used to burn spots on the surface of the disc. Some
high-speed CD-ROM drives cannot read some recordable CDs.
Also, the file structure on a recordable CD may not be
compatible with the operating system.

No CD Sound

If the CD drive starts, but no sound comes from the
speakers, try plugging a headset into the jack on the front
of the drive. If the headset works, the problem is in your
speaker system or sound card.

If the CD drive does not start, enable autoplay on your
computer. Select Start | Settings | Control Panel | System.
In the System dialog box select the Device Manager tab.
Click on the + sign next to CDROM to open that branch. Then
click on the name of the CD-ROM to highlight it. Click on
the Properties button. In the properties dialog box, select
the Settings tab. Check the box next to "Auto insert
notification". Click on the OK button. Then remove and
replace the CD.

Can't See the CD Drive in Explorer

Modern CD-ROM drives use the same ATA (Advanced Technology
Attachment) interface that a hard drive uses. (Sometimes
called IDE for integrated drive electronics). A motherboard
usually has two ATA channels, primary and secondary. Each
channel can control two drives, master and slave.

In Device Manager, click on the + next to Hard disk
controllers to open that branch. Make sure the Primary and
Secondary IDE controllers are listed and they don't have a
yellow exclamation (!) mark next to them. If one is not
visible, the controller may be disabled in the BIOS setup.
If there is an exclamation mark, the CD-ROM drive may be

Eject Button Does Not Work

If a CD gets stuck in the drive, turn off the power to the
PC. Then insert a straightened paper clip into the tiny
emergency eject hole on the front of the drive.

Unusual Problems

Inside the computer's case, make sure the power cable on
the back of the CD-ROM drive is not loose. Make sure the
data cable is not loose on the connector on the back of the
CD-ROM drive and on the motherboard. A loose cable may have
worked until dust drawn in by the cooling fan accumulated
inside the case.

The ATA channel master or slave assignment is configured
automatically by the data cable or is configured by a
jumper on the back of the CD-ROM drive. If a new drive has
been added, check this configuration.

Some software records the letter of the CD-ROM drive from
which it was installed. If you later remove or install a
storage device, Windows will reassign the drive letters.
The software may not be able to find the CD-ROM drive. If
you can't reconfigure that software, you can go into the
CD-ROM drive's Properties dialog box, select the Settings
tab, and set a letter to be used by the drive.

Some CD-ROM drives require a driver. Follow the drive
manufacturers instructions to install the driver. It can
usually be done through the CD-ROM drive's Properties
dialog boxHealth Fitness Articles, Driver tab.
Resource Box:
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Article Tags: Cd-rom Drives, Make Sure, Cd-rom Drive

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