There are several reasons why a CD might not mount in your Mac Mini - and in the end it might be the disc that is the problem, rather than the drive.
Why Won't My CD Work?
One of the most frustrating things about computing is the way in which storage options can fail. Whether it is a hard drive crash, a damaged USB thumb drive or a CD or DVD that you can’t open (mount), the chances are that data will be or has been lost.
Compact Discs (CDs) are organised using the CDFS (Compact Disc File System) which means that any CD player should be able to read them. Over time it has become apparent that this isn’t strictly the case; some CDs burned with a PC might not play on a standard CD player or on a Mac, and vice versa.
This is only one of many reasons why a CD might not mount on a Mac Mini, however...
CD’s Won’t Mount on My Mac Mini
There are a few things to check when troubleshooting problems mounting CDs on a Mac Mini. The first thing is – is the CD a brand new original music CD bought from a store? If so, and the disc will successfully playback on a standard compact disc player, the chances are that some copy protection facility is preventing your Mac from reading the disc. The likelihood in this case is that the disc will never playback on your computer.
The second thing to check is whether other discs that previously worked have suddenly stopped playing. Check a handful of CDs on your Mac Mini and see if they will work. If you have any problems with any of them, then perhaps the fault is hardware related…
(Image via wikipedia.org)
Troubleshooting Mac Mini CD Mounting Issues
A hardware-related CD mounting issue might be easily fixed, or it might be a more deep-seated problem. The internal temperature of a Mac Mini can get quite high and equally this can affect the performance of the computer as a whole, not just the CD drive. There is also a possibility that the CD drive can warp slightly, affecting its reception of new media and as such its ability to mount discs.
Switching off your Mac Mini, disconnecting from the mains and leaving if for a while until it has fully cooled down is a good way to get around any problems mounting a CD.
If this doesn’t fix the problem, you might want to consider contacting Apple to arrange a repair or replacement drive.
CD Won’t Mount: Problem CD?
As we’ve already seen, compact discs use the CDFS file structure. CDs that are copy protected use a non-standard variation of this which might prevent playback on a computer CD drive, but something else that will prevent a CD from mounting is deteriorating media.
Despite initial claims that CDs were virtually indestructible if looked after, it has since been found that oxidisation and fungal attack can cause CDs to deteriorate, in many cases beyond repair. Certainly if you’re using recordable or rewritable CD-ROMs you should be storing media in a cool, dry environment.
You can check if your CD is one that has suffered from this manufacturing flaw by holding it up to the light; if there are any gaps in the silver reflective surface, then the CD has deteriorated, and recovery will be difficult.