DVD / CD Drive Repair

A good friend mentioned to me that he was having problems accessing his DVD drive and the circumstances he described sounded like the fault might have been a software fault. I have instructed many customers on how to re-build their DVD drive settings and thought that it would benefit future customers for me to document the process of repair / rebuild.

There are two common misconfiguration that I see regularly:

  1. Problems with association between the DVD device and the DVD drive letter representation.
  2. Problems with the DVD device driver.

Fortunately, Microsoft have provided a very simple way to correct these issues (and these days they very rarely crop up).

Its hard to decide what order to present this information, there are three techniques. The last of which should guarantee rebuilding the settings.

How to access Computer Management:

  1. Open the Control Panel:
  2. To open the control panel. Click the "Start" button (or press the "Windows" key). If you are running Windows XP or below look for a menu entitled "Settings" and expand this menu. Look for a menu entry entitled "Control Panel" and click this entry.

    Figure 1 : Opening the Control Panel

  3. Open Administrative Tools
  4. From the control panel window, locate the Icon entitled "Administrative Tools" and double click on this icon (or single click the icon then press the enter key).

    Figure 2 : Opening Administrative Tools

  5. Open the Computer Management (MMC Snap-In)
  6. If you are running as an Administrator then:

      From the Administrative Tools window, locate the Icon entitled "Computer Management" and double click on this icon (or single click the icon then press the enter key).

      Figure 3 : Opening Computer Management


      Right click on the Computer Management Icon and then from the context menu click "Run as administrator":

      Figure 4 : Using the Context Menu

How to re-assign a DVD drive mapping:

  1. Accessing the Disk Management (MMC Snap-In)
  2. From the Computer Management console, left hand side menu tree. Expand the "Computer Management (Local)" branch and then from within this branch find and expand the "Storage" branch and click on the "Disk Management" leaf.

    Figure 5 : Disk Management MMC Snap-In

  3. Determining if your DVD drive has been properly detected by Windows:
  4. In the middle lower window sub-pane you should see a list of "drive" type devices attached to your system. Everyone MUST have at least a single entry in this list and more usually a person will find several. Look in this list and try to find an entry entitled "CD-ROM 1". If you do not see any entries entitled CD-ROM x then your DVD / CD ROM device driver has either not been installed or not properly detected your hardware (proceed to Route 2 : Device Driver Re-installation).

    Its interesting to note that all types of optical disk drive are primarily labeled CD-ROM. This is because CD-ROM is a driver class and an abstraction for all CD type disks (which includes, DVD, Blue Ray drives).

    If you can see your drive listed, this is good because this means that Windows has detected your unit and installed the appropriate driver. In the inner sub-window (the one with a blue bar above) the details of the disk currently in the drive will be shown (if there is no disk in the drive, there will simply be a "No Media" value shown below the drive entry.

    Right click the on the drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths":

    Figure 5 : Changing Drive Letter

    Figure 6 : Change Drive Letter and Paths


    From the above, it can be seen that this drive is already assigned to the drive letter D. If your having problems with accessing the unit I would suggest removing the drive mapping and then rebooting the system. After reboot, return to this screen, the system may well have assigned a new letter automatically, but if it has not add a drive mapping for your chosen letter.

    In many cases, simply deleting the drive mapping and then re-creating it can cause the settings to be reset without need for a restart.

How to reinstall your DVD driver:

Follow this route if your where unable to see your drive in the Disk Management screen.

  1. Open the Device Manager:
  2. From the Computer Management console, left hand side menu tree. Expand the "Computer Management (Local)" branch and then from within this branch find and expand the "System Tools" branch and click on the "Device Manager" leaf

    Figure 7 : Device Manager

    From the device tree (located in the central window) expand the root branch (named after your computer) scan down and locate the "DVD/CD-ROM drives" branch and expand this branch.

    If you cannot see a DVD/CD-ROM drives branch this indicates the system has not detected your DVD/CD-ROM drive. You can request that the system re-checks for your device by clicking on the "Action" menu and then clicking the menu option "Scan for Hardware Changes".

    Figure 8: Scan for Hardware Changes

    Click this option and a little window should appear briefly (as shown in figure 9).

    Figure 9: Scanning Plug and Play compliant hardware

    Try locating the DVD/CD-ROM drives branch again. If you still cannot locate this branch then it is likely there is some physical connectivity issue with your drive unit.

    At this point we should be looking at a display similar to figure 7.

    If you see an exclamation or question mark covering the drive icon this indicates there is some configuration or detection issue. 

    The best course of action in this case is to uninstall and re-detect the drive. 

    To uninstall and re-detect the drive, click on the CD-ROM drive icon representing your drive unit and then press the "Delete" key on the keyboard.

    Figure 10: Confirm Device Uninstall

    Clicking "OK" will uninstall the drive. If the drive is in use the system will ask you to restart the computer. Once the computer restarts the drive will be automatically re-detected (unless some issue prevents detection). If the drive is not in use the device will be uninstalled immediately and you may try scanning for hardware changes to have the unit re-detected (see figure 8). If the unit now appears without the exclamation or question mark over it, you may well have already resolved your issue.

    So the hardware appears as expected

    If you now see a view like the one in figure 7 you can right click on the drive and click "Properties" to view the details of the drive.

    Figure 11: Accessing DVD / CD-ROM Device Driver Properties

    Figure 12: DVD / CD-ROM Device Driver Properties

    Click on the "Volumes" tab.

    Click the "Populate" button. This will read the media in the drive and show details of the media.

    Figure 13: DVD / CD-ROM Device Driver Properties, Volume List

    If your DVD drive is working correctly (and you have a valid DVD inserted in the drive and its been given time to spin up). You should see a volume listed in list entitled "Volumes:".

    If you do not see anything in this list, try with a different DVD (preferably a commercial DVD). If you cannot get anything to show in this list, then the problem is most likely a hardware failure. Though it could be an incorrect driver has been installed or some fundamental corruption of the operating system (these are far more unlikely though).