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Windows 7: Dell Inspiron laptop unable to read DVDs

09 Jul 2012   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Dell Inspiron laptop unable to read DVDs

Morning all,

From what I can see, this seems to be a fairly common problem across computers...

My Dell Inspiron n5010 (Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit) sporadically won't read DVDs. A couple of nights ago, it took a couple of tries - last night, I couldn't get it to play one at all.

Having looked for various fixes, I have tried the following:

-Updating drivers
-Disabling and re-enabling the drive in device manager
-Going into the registry to remove recommended entries (high/low filters i think? I only had the "high" option, which apparently means that fix isn't for me...)
-Uninstalling any DVD-burning software that may be interfering with my laptop's own DVD player/software.

I'm at a bit of a loss now, I'm not a complete moron when it comes to computers, but i have a fairly limited array of solutions which i am able to attempt before i must ask for help.

So, i apologise in advance if this has been posted before...but does anyone have any suggestions as to how i might fix this?

Many thanks,

Alex

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2012   #2

Windows 7 x64 Professional SP1
 
 

Hello and welcome to the forums, PastorofMuppets! (I see you like Metallica too.)

You've mentioned DVDs, does that include CDs and any kind of other optical media too?

Do you have an external USB CD/DVD drive you can try to plug into your system to try out DVDs on?

If you do, try plugging it into your system via USB and playing a disc from the external drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2012   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Hi solarmystic, thanks for your reply. Haha yeah, I'm a fan of Metallica, amongst others!

Unfortunately I don't have a USB drive, no...

The problem is limited to playing DVDs - it recognises CDs just fine, for playing, importing, etc.

The issue just seems to be that the DVD isn't seen - if i put the DVD in, i can hear it spin up and try to read it, but it makes a rhythmic clunking noise every few seconds, almost as though it spins, then stops suddenly, then spins again, etc. In "My Computer", the DVD drive is listed, but even with a DVD in, double-clicking on it just ejects the DVD tray and gives me the prompt to inset a DVD...

Otherwise, in case it helps, my laptop recognises all other forms of media (be it another screen that's connected, an external HDD, USB sticks, etc).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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09 Jul 2012   #4

Windows 7 x64 Professional SP1
 
 

It seems like the symptoms you're reporting are eerily similar to that of an impending mechanical optical drive failure, which, strangely enough, can affect only a certain subset of the Optical Disc Drive's capabilities.

So while it might seem strange, even bizzare that CDs load up just fine, and DVDs don't, (and it some cases, it can be the other way around). Either way, i asked about an external drive earlier on to rule out your OS giving issues and other possibilities.

You could try to get a Lens Cleaning Disc if you're so inclined to see whether it's just the problem of the Disc Lens being dirty, or if you want total satisfaction, if the laptop is still under warranty, send the laptop back for a Disc Drive replacement, or if it's not, replace the drive yourself using these guides below, if you're confident enough.

Lens Cleaning Disc


Hama DVD-ROM Laser Cleaning Disc: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

Taking out and replacing the optical drive from the Dell™ Inspiron™ N5010/M5010 Service Manual

Documentation

Dell Inspiron 15R N5010 M501R M5010 Optical Drive Removal and Installation

A video detailing how it's done:-

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2012   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Is this definitely the only option? The laptop is less than a year old and hasn't been damaged in any way. I'd be amazed (and a little worried) if a component such as this has stopped working already!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2012   #6

Windows 7 x64 Professional SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by PastorOfMuppets View Post
Is this definitely the only option? The laptop is less than a year old and hasn't been damaged in any way. I'd be amazed (and a little worried) if a component such as this has stopped working already!
I'd like to think so, considering the symptoms you've mentioned and also the fact that it's a rather global problem with ALL DVDs you've tried so far. If it were just one or two isolated DVDs, i'd be inclined to think differently.

It could be that you had the misfortune of receiving a substandard Optical drive from Dell when they built your system in the factory that had a reduced life expectancy...

In any case, we can definitively say that it is a mechanical drive problem with either the lens, or the other parts of the drive.

It is now up to you to decide on the next course of action from the list of suggestions I have written up in my previous post.

Hope that helps!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2012   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Okay. I reckon you're spot-on with the lens needing a clean - the other day, it worked again, but then promptly stopped the next day, so i took the disc out, and blew lightly on the lens, then tried again - worked instantly. I know blowing on it isn't exactly a recommended fix...but I think it points to alcohol and a Q-tip as the next course of action!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2012   #8

Windows 7 x64 Professional SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by PastorOfMuppets View Post
Okay. I reckon you're spot-on with the lens needing a clean - the other day, it worked again, but then promptly stopped the next day, so i took the disc out, and blew lightly on the lens, then tried again - worked instantly. I know blowing on it isn't exactly a recommended fix...but I think it points to alcohol and a Q-tip as the next course of action!
Thanks for the follow-up!

I'd stlll recommend a proper lens cleaning disc/method though...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2012   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Well yeah, I wasn't going to quote "blowing on it" as a permanent fix...When I have the time and patience, I'll give it a proper clean with a disc/rubbing alcohol.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Feb 2014   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Hopefully digging up my old thread is acceptable here, as I'm still having the same issue. CD/DVD drive reads and plays CDs, but not DVDs. The issue isn't the drive lens. I've tried using a USB DVD drive, which is recognised by the laptop, but still won't play DVDs. It appears as though my laptop has lost the ability to play a DVD from any input source. Trying to directly run the DVD through WMP (using the external USB drive) just shows "No Disk" in the external drive.

So, I wondered if anyone might have any suggestions as to why a laptop would be unable to play a DVD, regardless of the source?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Dell Inspiron laptop unable to read DVDs





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