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Offline macnext1

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Can't Read Disks
« on: April 30, 2009, 05:12:12 AM »
I recently wanted to see what was on the 'restore' disk that came with my system. When I tried to read it (on drive D), it showed nothing there. When I tried to scan the disk with Avast it said the drive wasn't mounted. I then tried another disk with the same results. I then tried it in the 'E' drive -- same results for both disks. I then tried a disk from Janome (embroidery software) and at least it would show a few files there - when I scanned it with Avast it would get up to 85% complete and then just go away (no good or bad message -- just went away).

So I tried to trouble shoot the drives, there was a question about SDE or ESDE drives -- I don't have a clue. But I proceeded and it then asked me if I was trying to use 5 drives. Once again I don't know but the answer may be yes. I have a C hard drive, a D DVD R/W drive and a E CD R/W drive (these are all internal and came with the system). A few years ago I added a USB hard drive from SimpleTech for backups. A few months ago I added another USB hard drive from SeaGate because someone told me it had better software for backups but the real reason I wanted it was to see if I could create 'mirror' of my C drive.

So I really don't have any idea of when I could no longer read from D or E. I don't use those drives very often so the problem may have been there for many months OR I may have shot myself in the foot when I added the SeaGate drive.

I wanted to put this in the 'general / misc forum' but it wouldn't let me so I stuck it here for want of a better spot. If someone wants to move it to a better forum -- feel free.

Anyone have any ideas/thoughts on this? I really don't know where to go and I sure can't afford to take it to a repair shop.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Mac

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Can't Read Disks
« on: April 30, 2009, 05:12:12 AM »

Offline Evan

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It sounds like the drives
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2009, 06:25:57 AM »
It sounds like the drives might be hooked up wrong, a cable has come loose, or the drive is failing.  Since they came with the system I would expect they were hooked up right.  First thing you'll want to do is unhook anything you've added (the USB Drive and Seagate Drive) and reboot and see if they work.  A simple reboot might fix it if you haven't done that.  The next thing you'll want to try is updating the firmware of the drives.  If you can provide the model of the drives I can give you a link to the latest firmware.

The problem is going to come down to the drive(s) are failing (probably the laser), the cabling is loose or bad, they MIGHT be hooked up wrong, or the disc's you're using are bad.

Something to remember is that a DVD drive can read a CD but a CD drive can NOT read a DVD.  We can check to see if your computer (not the drive) can read a disc by haveing you install a virtual drive (I prefer SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive http://www.slysoft.com/en/virtual-clonedrive.html ) since it does only what you want.  If you install that I can find you a small disc image (which is just a file that the computer see's as a real disc but can be "mounted" to your virtual drive).  If that works then you know it's a hardware problem.  If that doesn't then you probably need a firmware update or some other update.

As far as creating an exact mirror of your C drive goes...Seagate does has some great free software, but it only works if all the drives are Seagate or Maxtor.  There are also plenty of other utitilities for this.  Most recently I used Roadkil's Raw Copy (http://www.roadkil.net/program.php?ProgramID=22) which copied a disk of mine EXACTLY.  You might want to wait though and see if we can determine your exact need.

Let me know if I've taken any of this the wrong way or if I need to clarify anything.

-Evan
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Offline Evan

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Don't take it to be repaired.
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2009, 07:52:20 AM »
If you took your computer to be repaired for the optical drive issue, then you'd pay more than the cost of a new drive in repairs.  You can buy a whole new DVD drive for around $50 (more or less depending on what speeds, Dual Layer, Read vs Read/Write, etc...).  Since a DVD drive will do everything a CD drive can do (with the exception of a CD drive having a higher read speed generally) if it turns out it's broken you can buy a new or refurbished one for very little.

What sort of troubleshooting (what software or method) were you doing that asked you if it was SDE or ESDE?  I'm not familiar with the terms, but I'm confident in saying that the first "E" on the second is going to refer to External. In your case that you would choose SDE based on that logic.

Did it detect 5 drives?  Basically did you software say something like "I see 5 drives, is this correct?", because that all sounds right.

Last question is, have either the CD or DVD drive worked correctly in the past?

-Evan
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Offline Shane

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you couldn't post in 'general
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2009, 08:50:06 AM »
you couldn't post in 'general / misc forum'?
can you let me know what happened? I don't like if something is not working.

Also new dvd burners are down to $23 now.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136144

also a little side note. Had a customers computer in here yesterday. Had to fix some blue screens (turned out to be bad memory) and the dvd drive wouldn't read any of my disks (I needed to boot my memory test software off my cd). customer said yeah it stopped working a while ago. First thing I did was take my can of compressed air, open he dvd drive bay door and blew the crap out of it. Look like a dust storm! lol, I mean this system was dusty. then the drive started reading my disks fine. Seems like the laser eye inside had to much dust on it to read right. I always try to make sure its not something simple before I replace things.

Anyways let us know how it goes.

-Shane
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Offline macnext1

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General - Misc
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2009, 09:52:20 AM »
Shane, when I went to 'save' the system informed me that it was just a folder for forums and I couldn't use it -- select something else, so I did.

Offline Shane

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ah, see I have the forum
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2009, 10:00:40 AM »
ah, see I have the forum container and the forum itself named the same. Im going to rename them so there is no confusion.

Shane
(My weekends belong to my wife and kids, I will try my best to answer all posts daily during the work week)

(About Shane)
Site Owner, Top Admin, Lead Programmer, Wife & 5 kids, Needs a lot more coffee.

When people ask "Why fix what isn't broken?" I reply "To make it better."
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile"
Honor & Respect is all that matters.

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Offline macnext1

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The Drives
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2009, 10:06:40 AM »
The two drives D & E have worked since day 1. I used them both a few years ago when my wife was heavy into embroidery. Now that she has switched her interest to poker the drives don't get used much. However, I will swear that they were used and worked after the install of the SimpleTech hard drive.

The 'troubleshooting' was using the built in 'stuff' from MicroSoft. As I recall I went to the device manager and it took me into troubleshooting (I did that because the MS software said the drive was fine). The troubleshooting did not detect 5 drives, I made the assumption (always a risk) that all 5 of my drives were either the SD(?) or ESD (?) simply because the other option was SCUZZY (not spelled that way but I don't remember how it was spelled). Somewhere along the line it pointed out that a PC could only handle 4 drives. Evidently there are 2 controllers that will each handle 2 drives. When I informed it that I was trying to use 5 drives it told me to buzz off (actually the reply was that I would get expert assistance to use 5 drives). So I came here.

There is the whole sad sordid story.

I have not tried doing the unplug/reboot trick yet. Hopefully tomorrow.

Mac

Offline Shane

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let us know. If worse comes
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2009, 10:17:00 AM »
let us know.

If worse comes to worse we can always use teamviewer.com and take a look at it with you. This is just an option.

depending on your setup there is a number of different drives you could have.

with the IDE controllers you can have 2 drivers per controller. with stat (if you have it) you have a drive per sata port. then you have usb which you can have a very larger amount if you have the usb ports (even with usb hubs)

so 5 drives I can see. Drive C, D & E (those are your 3 normal drives on the IDE channels) and then the 2 usb drives you hooked up.

(My weekends belong to my wife and kids, I will try my best to answer all posts daily during the work week)

(About Shane)
Site Owner, Top Admin, Lead Programmer, Wife & 5 kids, Needs a lot more coffee.

When people ask "Why fix what isn't broken?" I reply "To make it better."
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile"
Honor & Respect is all that matters.

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Offline Evan

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Your PC only being able to
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2009, 10:19:05 AM »
Your PC only being able to handle 4 drives is referring specifically to internal drives.  Your motherboard has two IDE controllers.  Those use the ribbon cable (they are also known as PATA: parallel ATA) and the connection can only handle two connections per controller (or port on the motherboard).  That brings the total to 4.  Since you said you connected via USB then you can subtract your USB devices from that number, leaving you with 3 devices connected (internally).

Thats just a little background for you.  For now I'd try the dusting that Shane recommended and possible the Virtual Drive approach I recommended.  I'll have to tackle this in more detail later (if needed).

Scuzzy is phonetically correct:Small Computer System Interface, or SCSI (pronounced ['scuzzy]).  Just so you know...

-Evan
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Offline macnext1

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Update
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2009, 05:51:30 AM »
Let me throw some gas on this smoldering little fire. This morning I installed a WebCam (my son and wife have this idea that they can see each other while he is in Iraq). Anyway I had to install S/W for Logitech QuickCam, HP Photo Essentials and ArcSoft Collage Creator. All of these read and installed correctly using the D drive. Now I assume that these are all CDs. As soon as I was finished I tried the 'restore' disc again and again when I 'open' it just has an empty screen. This guy clearly states on the cover that it is a DVD. So it would appear that I can read CDs but not DVDs -- didn't try the other 'restore' disk I have since it didn't work last time and it is also a DVD.

How do you think I should proceed from here? I did not do the spray that was suggested since it can read CDs without a problem. But perhaps I should. Are there mechanical differences between CD and DVD? Like maybe another laser?

Offline Evan

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CD vs DVD Laser
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2009, 06:21:21 AM »
The difference between the laser needed to read a CD and DVD is like a butter knife versus a razor blade, respectively.  The reason a DVD can contain so much more data is because the tracks (just like a Vinyll albums) are MUCH smaller so you need a finer laser (needle).  The is a chance that the laser can read the CD and not the DVD since it doesn't have to be as precise.  With that said I would definately use the canned air (make sure it's for computers/electronics).  Just to be safe, open the DVD bay and then turn off the computer and dust it as best you can.  Let us know how that works out.

There could also be a chance that you're using Double Layer DVDs and your drive can't support that (but I doubt it).

After the dusting I'd look at updating the software on the DVD drive.  Also, if you can (if you didn't already) try and see if you can get the restore DVD to work on another computer.

Let me know how it turns out.  Wish your son the best and I hope you are able to hear from him soon!

-Evan
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Offline Evan

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Both a CD and DVD drive use
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2009, 07:45:18 AM »
Both a CD and DVD drive use different lasers, but a DVD's is an improved version of the CD's (and a BlueRay, and the "dead" HD-DVD, are both improved upon the DVD...and blue).  Like I said in the previous post, they are similar, but not identical.  A DVD's laser is backwards compatible with a CD disc, but a CD's laser can NOT read or write to a DVD.

You originally said the "restore disc that came with your system"...was your system one from a major mfr (like Dell, HP, etc...) or did someone build it for you and provide a backup disc?  Is the restore disc you most recently tried from a third party (like Acronis, Paragon, etc..)?

Can you tell me what happens if you try and watch a Movie DVD on your computer?  Does it work?  Does it "skip" or freeze?  If you are having trouble with that then I know of a *completely* different issue you're probably having.  If you also notice your computer being almost completely "choked" during the video playback then it'll point to the other issue I'm thinking.  I don't want to cross that bridge unless you need to though.  Good luck!

Oh, BTW...if you use your webcam you're going to have to really watch that bandwidth usage :)

-Evan
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Offline macnext1

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Movies?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2009, 09:40:48 AM »
I have never tried watching a DVD movie on my computer. Never even gave it a thought, wouldn't know what kind of software would be required. Not to mention that to me it mwould be a total waste of my computer time (got other things to do when I'm on the computer). However, as a test, if you'll tell me how to do it I will give a whirl.

My system is a Gateway 505GR I bought it through BestBuy. I had them (they call themselves "The Geek Squad" -- cute huh?) install the MS Windows software and the latest updates from MS, AOL, software for my UPS, some spyware (don't remember the name). Off the top of my head that's all I can remember. But there might have been some other software. As far as I know, the hardware was all installed by Gateway.

The other restore disc came from Gateway as well (I think) (I had forgotten that I had a restore disc) so I ordered one (pretty sure it was Gateway). It doesn't have a Gateway lable though - it just says it for emachines.

Mac

Offline Shane

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http://support.gateway.com/s/
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2009, 09:52:36 AM »
http://support.gateway.com/s/PC/R/4054/4054sp3.shtml

Looks like your drive D is only a cd-rom, it wont read dvds. and your drive e is dvd drive and will read both cd's and dvds.

-Shane
(My weekends belong to my wife and kids, I will try my best to answer all posts daily during the work week)

(About Shane)
Site Owner, Top Admin, Lead Programmer, Wife & 5 kids, Needs a lot more coffee.

When people ask "Why fix what isn't broken?" I reply "To make it better."
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile"
Honor & Respect is all that matters.

Owner & Programmer of: www.pcwintech.com & www.tweaking.com

Offline Evan

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If you bought it from Best
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2009, 11:00:40 AM »
If you bought it from Best Buy in the last 5 years then should play a movie DVD.  All you have to do is put in any regular DVD and it will probably start automatically (as long as it's in the DVD drive).  If it does then check under "My Computer" and see which drive that is (just to make sure you have to drive letters right).

I'd only take it to the "Geek Squad" if it's still under Best Buy's warranty (you can usually buy a 2 year extended warranty).  If it is tell them that you want your optical drives to work again and ask if you can have it replaced.  Don't let them touch your Hard Drive though. Treat it like a taking your car to a mechanic you don't trust.  They will tell you everything else that is "wrong" and try to charge you way to much to fix something we can help you do for free.  But if you can get a new, working DVD drive out of it, then by all means take advantage of it.

Actually, if you go there...ask them what they will do, if they need to hold you computer, the cost, all that.  Then check back with us.

Back to the point though:  We need to find out if your drive works.  You can read some discs (which we are assuming are CD's).  If they are CD's then we need to know if they were in the DVD drive or the CD drive.  If they are CD's and work in both drives then I think cleaning (like Shane said) the drive out should be done.  After that we need to update your firmware (I can link you to the proper sites). Check connections (a loose cable can cause funny things).  Then look at just getting a new drive.  Or you can just skip to the last one :)  **Remember, an unscratched CD is a good way to test BOTH drives, but you'll have to have a DVD to test the DVD drive.

Just so you know...Most of the time Best Buy and Dell/HP/Gateway, etc... are more concerned with getting your computer to run again and they default to "erase everything and make it like we sent it to you".  If you had anything stored they expect you to have taken care of it.  I know that is off subject but I've seen too many people treated poorly in this regard.  

Caes in point: I recently had someone call me and ask me to speak to Dell on their behalf and the support person said Windows is corrupted...we'll have to re-install.  I told them I needed to make sure everything was backed up first.  Turned out the customer had a Novel she was working on, and a lot of e-mail and other things she had worked on for the community (non backed up).  If she had listened to Dell then she would have lost it all and spent thousands to "maybe" be able to retrieve some of it.  Once I isolated the problem I had it working, just as it was before it crashed, in about 25 minutes.

Hope some of this helps.  I'm no so good at quick and to the point...it's a mixed blessing I suppose, lol.

-Evan
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If you bought it from Best
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2009, 11:00:40 AM »

 

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