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DVD Drive Troubleshooting: Drive Does Not Recognize Media

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 6/18/2010

Nothing can be worse than finding out some important aspect of your computer isn't working. Worse when DVDs and CDs aren't recognized by your computer's DVD-ROM.You'll find helpful suggestions and hints within this Bright Hub article to get that DVD drive working.

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    Not working

    It's a typical Saturday afternoon and you feel like a movie. Low on cash and perhaps low on gas, you decide to pop in one of your favorite movies on DVD. Your computer has been set up to watch DVDs and play CDs, so you pop the disc in the drive and await the menu selection.

    Only...nothing shows up. Or worse, when you try clicking on the drive within My Computer, it keeps telling you there's no disc inside.

    What do you do if your DVD drive does not recognize your media? There can be several reasons, but luckily they aren't difficult to track down.

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    Check the Disc/Program

    The first step you should take to make your DVD drive recognize your media is to check the media you're using. Often times, the DVD drive will fail in reading a DVD movie, CD, or DVD/CD-ROM based on the disc itself. Discs can get dirty or scratched, even when in their protective cases.

    Before you get frustrated enough to start kicking things (namely your computer), pop out the disc and clean the outside. If possible, use DVD or CD cleaning products, as they are made to clean up discs with a special formula. Also, make sure to use a soft cloth to clean the disc; eyeglass cloths are a best bet or anything that is made to clean an LCD monitor. Don't use paper towels or towels or even your shirt. Abrasive cloths actually make any imperfections worse, as they can also cause scratches.

    Next, if you use a certain program to watch DVD movies, like Power DVD or Win DVD, check to make sure the program itself is working. Go to the program website and see if there is an update. It's always best to keep up with updates, as new features or fixes are involved that make movie watching better than before.

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    Check the Drive

    So you've cleaned the disc, checked your DVD program, and even updated it and the disc still isn't playing.

    This next step can be a bit difficult, depending on a user's computer level. This step is to check the DVD drive itself. There are several ways to do this -

    • Are lights blinking? If so, it means that the drive is properly connected within the computer; if not, a connection may have come unplugged.
    • Does the computer show the DVD drive? Is it listed within either My Computer or the Device Manager?
    • Can you hear the DVD drive working after a disc is placed within?

    These are common problems that can be easily fixed by either updating the drive itself (by going to the manufacturer and checking for updates) or by opening up the computer and carefully checking the connections. Both steps require a fair knowledge of computers, so if you don't feel comfortable, ask a friend or someone who is a bit more knowledgeable.

    In the worst case scenario, your DVD drive needs to be replaced. Luckily, these types of drives are no longer as expensive as they used to be with minimum prices starting at $19.95 and going up to over $100 (if you want something fancy). Replacing the drive may sometimes be the only recourse, but it means you have a nice upgrade and can start watching those movies again.