Troubleshoot Common PC CD/DVD/DVR Issues - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Optical drives — aka CD, DVD, or DVR drives — are rapidly replacing diskette drives in today’s PCs so knowing how to troubleshoot some of the common issues will be important well into the future.

    Is the drive dead?

You can easily determine whether an optical drive is dead. If the tray doesn’t eject, the drive could be dead. If the drive has a light and the light isn’t lit, that’s another sure sign.

If the drive is getting power and the tray slides in and out, check the media. Is the disc okay? The easiest way to determine the answer is to try the disc in an optical drive that works. If the disc is okay and the drive doesn’t recognize it, the drive is probably dead.

  • The good news is that optical drives are cheap and easy to replace.

  • The drive cannot read a disc that has been inserted upside down. Likewise, a non-recordable drive cannot read blank discs.

    A disk is stuck in the drive!

You can easily eject a stuck disk. Look for the drive’s “dimple” hole. It’s a tiny, pin-size hole, found on the face of every optical drive.


Insert a bent paper clip into the hole. Push! The drive tray pops out a bit. Then you can remove the disc.

Some PCs feature a plastic bezel that can obscure the dimple hole. In that case, you have to pop off the bezel to access the optical drive directly. Or, if you look closely, you may see a hole in the bezel through which you can access the optical drive’s eject dimple hole.

    The program doesn’t install

When you insert an optical disc for a new program into the computer, you expect the program to automatically install. When it doesn’t, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Computer or My Computer window.

  2. Right-click the optical drive icon.

  3. From the Shortcut menu, choose the command Install or Run Program.

    If the Install or Run Program command isn’t available, choose AutoPlay instead.

The install or setup program on the disk should now run and install the software. If it still doesn’t, choose the Open command in Step 3 or just double-click the optical drive icon. From the window that opens, locate an icon named setup or install and open it to begin installation.