How can I get CDR drive to work
April 29, 2005 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Tech advice: CDR drive stopped working, replacement drive didn't work either, I'm trying to figure out my next move.

The computer is a Dell Dimension desktop running XP that my wife uses everyday. I can't take it out of commission for any amount of time and don't want to replace it yet. Given that the new CDR drive didn't work either--I've replaced drivers, etc but it just isn't recognized--I'm assuming that something's bad on the board where the drive plugs in. Is that a reasonable assumption? There are no other slots to plug the drive into. I'm thinking I need to get a USB-based CDR. Does anyone have experience with a USB based CD drive, particularly when it comes to burning CDs?
posted by donovan to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Don't have any advice on the internal CD drives (unless both are bad?) but USB drives are fine. Before I upgraded to an internal DVD burner I had an old Iomega USB CD burner and never had a problem with it. And they're dirt cheap nowadays.
posted by gfrobe at 11:22 AM on April 29, 2005

1) does the drive appear during the BIOS bootup sequence? If it does, then it's possibly a Windows problem. Go into device manager and see if windows can see the drive.

2) if the new drive doesn't appear at all, how are you connecting it to the motherboard? Are you using the exact same cable as you did with the other drive, or just the same connector? If you're using the same cable, then throw it out and use the one which came with your new CDR drive. Make sure that both ends (or possibly all three) are securely seated with the correct keying.

3) Are you sure that you have the master/slave/cable select pinouts set properly on the new drive? Different manufacturers ship with different defaults, and depending on how you plug in your drive, your computer may not see it. The simplest case is to dedicate the 2nd IDE connector on your PC's motherboard to an IDE cable with just the one new CDR hanging off the very end of it (not the middle), with the new CDR's jumpers set to 'master' or, if you're daring, 'cable select'.

4) USB CD drives are a solved problem at this point, and they work great. Make sure to get a USB 2.0 drive (and make sure it explicitly says so on the box) assuming that your dell dimension supports USB 2.0. Avoid Iomega. Pioneer and Plextor are the 'great' vendors. You may have to update your CD burning software to see the drives, but most external CD burners come with software anyway.
posted by felix at 11:25 AM on April 29, 2005

Damn, I should have mentioned 5) since you already have a brand new IDE CD ROM drive that is supposed to work, you might do the cheap thing and just invest in an IDE-to-USB 5.25" enclosure. Mount the CD drive in the enclosure, and hey presto, external CD drive for $50 less than you would otherwise have to spend.
posted by felix at 11:27 AM on April 29, 2005

make sure youve tried it with nothing else on the same cable (ala the dvd drive and a cd burner setup) just in case the other device is screwing up the one your using
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 11:56 AM on April 29, 2005

First, what burning software were you using? Second, does either drive work for reading CDs or do they not work at all? Reason I ask is there's a known problem with some versions of Nero 5.5 and Easy CD Creator 5.0 (both pretty old versions at this point) that attempts to uninstall them (even as part of an upgrade) render all your CD drives inoperable.

If that describes you, and you feel comfortable mucking around in the registry, first uninstall all CD-burning software, then follow the advice by kendo (about the 6 post down) at this link. Make absolutely, positively sure that you're at the right registry path, as there are many that look similar and erasing the wrong UpperFilters and LowerFilters will probably end in a complete Windows re-install. Finally, install updated CD-burning software.
posted by boaz at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2005

I should point out that the symptoms of the above problem will be that the letters will appear for any CD or DVD drive, but. inserting a disk will have no effect and clicking on the CD's letter in Explorer will either ask for a disk to be inserted (if there isn't a CD in the drive) or throw up an error dialog (if there is).
posted by boaz at 12:03 PM on April 29, 2005

Try swapping the IDE cable with the one to the hard drive. I've seen strands break inside of them before.
posted by substrate at 12:28 PM on April 29, 2005

Before buying a usb drive I'd check the things listed here. Plus use a different power connector to your drive. I've seen them go bad.
posted by Mitheral at 12:52 PM on April 29, 2005

Thanks for the sanity check everyone.

I did look in device manager and did use a new cable. I think I'll go the USB route as the computer has a good year left in it. And thanks felix, for the idea about repurposing the new internal drive (or maybe even the old one) with an enclosure.
posted by donovan at 1:51 PM on April 29, 2005

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