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Windows 7: Why won't some DVDs play in my computer's DVD drive?

16 Oct 2012   #11

Windows 7 ULT 32 bit

Firebird, thanks for your reply, so much. Your post prompted me to re-check my Device Manger panel for the DVD/CD drive.

Ooops, ... the label, "Disk Drive" threw me off and I opened the wrong Device panel in my Device Manager.

This DVD/CD drive is an HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GSA-H31N SCSI CdRom Device, as labeled in my Device Manger... see the screenshot linked below.

But I still don't know the precise brand of this DVD/CD drive... HL-DT-ST is the only description and the Device panel has no further indication of the drive's brand.

I have a PDF manual and an HTML manual for this computer, but it still doesn't tell me any more info about the actual brand of the DVD/CD drive... probably because Dell changed the make of that drive from time to time while making this model computer.

And I just noticed that there is a tab on that Device panel named "Region", and it says...

Most DVDs are encoded for play in specific regions. To play a regionalized DVD on your computer, you must set your DVD drive to play discs from taht region by selecting a geographic area from the following list.

CAUTION You can change the region a limited number of times. After Changes remaining reaches zero, you cannot change the region even if you reinstall Windows or move your DVD drive to a different computer.

Changes remaining: 4

To change the current region, select a geographic area, and then click OK.

Current Region: Region 1

And apparently "Region 1" is the United States, because I tried clicking on the U.S. in the scroll list of countries and when I click on it, then there is a field that shows "New Region" as Region 1 before I click OK.

Now this explains some things but not others. Most of the DVDs that I have from the U.S. actually WILL NOT play currently, even thought my drive is set for the United States region, but most of the Japanese DVDs that I have will play currently, but some will not.

And apparently I can't just change it back and forth more than 4 times to different regions to test it, which seems to be a huge limitation in this drive's function.

I wonder if that would make this drive's DVD reading capabilities any more universal by default if I updated that firmware for this DVD/CD drive.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks so much,


Attached Thumbnails
Why won't some DVDs play in my computer's DVD drive?-diskdrive_region-panel_.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2012   #12

Windows 7 ULT 32 bit

Well, this is what I've found...

Japan is region 2 and the US is region 1.

If some DVDs play and others do not (all of the same region), it is possible that the DVD laser is marginal.

Sometimes a Firmware update is issued to improve readability, however the most recent one for this drive, linked below, doesn't indicate that...

I see that firmware update was from 2007, so it's possible that this computer might have an older one than that since it was purchased in 2006 or 2007 and it was probably manufactured sometime in 2005 or 2006, but it doesn't say anything about improvements in reading various types of DVDs in that firmware description... it only says...

"Firmware resolves Optilex 320 system detection issue with the HLDS GSA_H31N HH drive at boot up"...

... which I'm sure means that it had a previous problem before even seeing the drive in the Windows operating system, but I haven't had that problem and I've upgraded the OS one time on this computer from Vista to W7 and I've never had a problem with the OS not recognizing the DVD/CD drive itself.

I guess the driver update, if Microsoft has a newer one than the one that came in Windows 7, probably wouldn't do much, but if anyone thinks differently or has another recommendation, then please let me know.

I do have a LaCie DVD/CD burner/player from around 2003 that is in storage and it is a very good one, so maybe I'll try that one, if I can find it and dig it out.

Thanks so much for all of your advice, everyone.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2012   #13

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Most drives allow 5 region changes - I think there are one or two programs which get around that - never looked into it.

Firmware update is probably a good idea.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

16 Oct 2012   #14

Windows 7 ULT 32 bit

Hi SIW2,

That would be cool if there were a program to get around that issue, but then again, the way this drive is performing in my current tests, it still won't play some/most DVDs from the U.S. even when it is set to the U.S. region, and even though it is set for the U.S. region it still plays most DVDs from Japan, with the exception of a few.

So the region thing seems to be screwed up, or the actual coding in the DVDs is different, even for the same regions... maybe if I set the drive to the Japan region, it would play the rest of the DVDs from the U.S., by the logic of the way things are working now, eh?

If anyone has ever heard of the program to get around the limitation of changing the region setting more than four times, then please let me know... I wouldn't even know what to search for.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2012   #15

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Took 10 seconds to find this no idea if it is any good - google around and see what you get DVD Region+CSS Free - Watch & Copy Any DVD! Remove Region, CSS, ARccOS, etc.

dvd region free
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Oct 2012   #16

Windows 7 ULT 32 bit

Cool WIW2,

I guess you are a better Googler than me.

I've gotta check this out, especially since it is free. I'll let you know if I go ahead and install it and try it.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Oct 2012   #17

Windows 7 ULT 32 bit

As I wrote yesterday, I have a LaCie DVD/CD burner/player drive from around 2003... and I found it last night in storage, hooked it up and it flawlessly plays ALL of my DVDs. Even one DVD that played a little glitchy in this Dell computer's drive plays perfectly without any stuttering in this LaCie drive.

So since I'm the type of person that doesn't want to install software that I don't absolutely need, I probably won't be testing that "DVD Region+CSS Free" software to try to make my Dell computer's somewhat inferior DVD/CD drive more functional since I don't need to any longer.

And considering that this LaCie DVD/CD drive cost about as much in 2003 as this entire Dell computer cost is 2007, around $300, it should play any DVD flawlessly. Even using a USB 1 connection to run this LaCie DVD/CD drive on, it still works perfectly. This drive can use USB 1, USB 2 or Firewire, but this computer only has USB 1.

If you think about it, why would Dell spend a lot of money on any one of the components that it puts in its computers when it sells those computers for as little as $300?

This Dell Inspiron 531 came with defective RAM in it and it took years for me to finally figure out that there's a RAM test app built in to the firmware in this computer and test the RAM to find out that it has been defective and reeking infinite havoc all this time... and I thought it was just Windows Vista. Even though Vista was committing a slow suicide with corrupted, badly written software code, it took the bad RAM that Dell built in to this computer to really drive me crazy when I was troubleshooting all the problems on it for a family member. Once I put new RAM in this computer and installed Windows 7, it's a different computer with almost no problems. Since then I've inherited this computer and it is my first Windows PC.

So problem solved, but any internal DVD/CD drive in any cheepo Dell or any other stock PC drive is bound to be inferior... you get what you pay for, eh?

Thanks again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2012   #18

Win7 H.Prem. 32bit+SP1

If MPC HC won't play your cd/dvd's it might help buying a cleaner disk for your optical drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2012   #19

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and numerous virtual machines

The DVD drive is bad, replace it.This is exactly how they behave when they go bad. DVD (and CD's) vary in reflectivity and the duller the disc the less likely it will play with a low emission laser. Another common failure is the inability to focus on the lower level of a dual layer disc causing the film /movie to freeze at the layer change. Do what I have done, I have Region 2 DVD's from the UK (can't be without my Madness Music DVD's) so I fit a Region 1 DVD and below it a Region 2 DVD drive. Good DVD burners can be got for between $15 and $20. I tried all those region free programs and they always broke copy protection on games, caused unexplained blue-screens. Drives are now cheaper than some of the programs that you could purchase. If you get 2 drives make sure you get a SATA cable and there is room in your case. - ASUS 24X DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS - CD / DVD Burners
I have 7 of these in various computers and only one was bad, that failed within 2 weeks, would not do the layer change boogie, got it replaced under warranty .
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Oct 2012   #20

Windows 7 ULT 32 bit

Hi Roadrunner and Indianatone... thanks for your replies.

I'm wondering, did either of you read my last post?

My issue had nothing to do with the media player nor a defective drive, and I have another drive hooked up that plays all my DVDs now.

Windows Media Player plays all of my DVDs as long as I'm playing them through my LaCie drive that I just hooked up. So it has nothing to do with whether I use MPC-HC or not... in fact in my few tests that I did with MPC-HC, it tended to hang up and crash, even while using my LaCie drive, whereas Windows Media Player works perfectly with all my DVDs now.

And it is evident that the issue with my internal drive that I was troubleshooting is an issue with the Region setting and it is not intermittent behavior from a defective drive.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Why won't some DVDs play in my computer's DVD drive?

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