MacBook disc drive won't read.
March 25, 2013 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Save us another trip to the Apple store. My daughter's computer: Mac Book Pro Operating system: 10.6.8 Not in warranty

Her summary:
"It won't read any discs that I have - both manufactured DVDs and CDs (both manufactured and one that I have burned previously)
When I took it into the apple store, everything seemed to work - the genius inserted a blank disc, burned some music to it, ejected, and the computer read it when inserted again."

So. It sounds like the hardware is fine, but it's not reading everything anymore. How does she fix it? We would like to avoid another trip to the Genius Bar. (0h, look! IOS 6 auto capitalizes Genius Bar!). But that store has a nails on the chalkboard stress level to it.

Any advice, dear Hive?
posted by SLC Mom to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
 
Simplest fix? External DVD drive. How often does she need it?

Otherwise, I'd say bring a disc that she knows it won't read to the Genius Bar.

I usually suggest a clean format and OS reinstall, which should wipe out any software issues (and is always good preventative maintenance for clearing out cruft) but that's made difficult by not having a working Superdrive. Will it read the OS disc that came with the computer? (Looks similar to this.)
posted by supercres at 7:25 AM on March 25, 2013


Apple Menu > About This Mac > More Info > Disc Burning

paste the info displayed into the thread so we can see what hardware you have
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:25 AM on March 25, 2013


OS X isn't Windows. You don't need to blow it away and reinstall it to resolve "cruft."
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:27 AM on March 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Folks, answer question, take sidebar discussions to email.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:37 AM on March 25, 2013


Depending on the age of your Mac, you also may be able to run a built in hardware test by restarting it, and holding down the "D" key while it boots up.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:42 AM on March 25, 2013


SLC Mom: "It sounds like the hardware is fine"

Nope. Intermittent problems are more likely to be hardware related than software. You may have a loose cable that gets jiggled in the trip to and from the store or a cracked solder joint. If the machine is old, supercres has the right answer. Just get an external drive (example) and move on. If it's under Apple Care you can raise a bit of a stink and get it replaced.
posted by chairface at 7:42 AM on March 25, 2013


Sorry, will rephrase.

"Cruft" was a poorly-chosen word in that parenthesis. (Referring to unused software and drivers, not registries; thought that was obvious.) A format-and-reinstall is, in my experience, the easiest and most foolproof way to fix an OS or driver issue for someone who isn't technically inclined, i.e., without diagnosing the specific idiosyncratic problem. It's a last resort, but assuming it's not a hardware issue after all, it's virtually guaranteed to work. Other than the time spent backing everything up (which is always a good idea), there's no downside.
posted by supercres at 7:44 AM on March 25, 2013


This isn't the place for more colloquy. We have differing views on the utility of the one size fits all approach to resolving operating system problems. Fair enough.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:50 AM on March 25, 2013


Nope. Intermittent problems are more likely to be hardware related than software. You may have a loose cable that gets jiggled in the trip to and from the store or a cracked solder joint. If the machine is old, supercres has the right answer. Just get an external drive (example) and move on.

This is indeed the simplest approach, if your daughter doesn't use the drive much, or doesn't use it on the go.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:54 AM on March 25, 2013


Superdrive. Easiest way. Or you could replace the drive yourself. Also not too difficult once you find the right replacement drive.

This is a hardware problem, probably a dead or dying laser.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:05 AM on March 25, 2013


My DVD drive had similar issues and then eventually stopped working entirely. I was all ready to buy the $80 Apple USB Superdrive, found out it wasn't compatible with my 2008 MBP, then bought a $25 external USB drive and problem solved.
posted by so_gracefully at 8:19 AM on March 25, 2013


1) Reset PRAM.
If that doesn't help:
2) Take out battery, make sure nothing is plugged in, and press & hold power button for 10 seconds. Put battery back in and run like normal.
posted by jmd82 at 10:06 AM on March 25, 2013


Doesn't anyone clean their drives anymore? Radioshack sells an inexpensive laser disc reader cleaning kit. Can also be used on DVD/BluRay drives.
posted by Gungho at 10:08 AM on March 25, 2013


I had a problem similar to this with my SuperDrive, and sticking a can of compressed air with a straw in it solved the problem. Sometimes stuff gets on the laser and it needs a good blow-out.
posted by calistasm at 10:11 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. So many things it could be. I don't know if that is encouraging or discouraging. I always hope for some answer like ,"Oh, that is the well known shazzam problem. Just press Apple-'S'-'Z', then turn around 3 times and it will work fine!"
Sigh.
Her external memory/back up disk is at school while she's home on break, so she won't do a reinstall unless everything else has failed and she would likely take it to the techs for that anyway, as she doesn't have the OS disc. And she will not want an external drive to keep track of. These things, at least, I know.

I'll pass this on to her and get back to you with what she does.

Thanks everyone. You're great!
posted by SLC Mom at 1:27 PM on March 25, 2013


Before you do anything else, go somewhere with an air compressor(or get a can of that air cleaner stuff) and blast it into the drive LIBERALLY. Air compressors work way better though because of the high amount of air flow really dislodging dust more aggressively.

One of my jobs is repairing computers, mostly laptops, and this is the first fix i try on all macs that people bring to me with disk drive issues. It works seriously 4/5 times. To the point that I've had a couple spare drives sitting around for months i expected to quickly use up.
posted by emptythought at 7:10 PM on March 25, 2013


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