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Summary

This article describes how to troubleshoot common problems that may occur when a Windows XP-based computer cannot read a CD or a DVD in a CD or DVD drive. This article contains several methods that you can use to try to resolve these problems, and it also includes some advanced troubleshooting steps.

This article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user.

You may find it easier to follow the steps if you print this article first.

Symptoms

When you try to open a file or a program on a CD or on a DVD, you receive an error message that notifies you that there is a problem with the disc, with the CD drive, or with the DVD drive.

Additionally, one or more of the following symptoms may occur:
  • The disc label does not appear in Windows Explorer.
  • The contents of the disc do not appear in Windows Explorer.
  • When you insert the disc in the drive or when your computer tries to read the disc, the computer stops responding.
  • You cannot eject the disc from the drive.
  • The computer takes a long time to read the disc.
To have us fix this problem for you, go to the “Fix it for me” section. If you would rather fix this problem yourself, go to the “Let me fix it myself” section.

Note There may be other reasons that a USB device is not detected. For related Microsoft Knowledge Base articles, see the "Similar problems and solutions" section.

Fix it for me

To fix this problem automatically, click the Fix this problem link. Then, click Run now button from the Automated Troubleshooting Services page and follow the steps in this wizard.

Fix this problem; Microsoft Automated Troubleshooting Services: Your CD or DVD drive cannot read or write media

Now try reading the CD or DVD again. If it does not work, try the stpes in the Let me fix it myself section and Advanced Troubleshooting section if necessary.

Let me fix it myself

You can follow these methods to try to isolate and resolve the problem. Use these methods in the order in which they are presented.

Method 1: Clean the disc

When you have problems with a CD or DVD drive, always check the disc first to see whether it is damaged or dirty. To clean the disc, follow these steps:
  1. Remove the disc from the drive.
  2. Clean the disc with a disc cleaning kit or by gently wiping the silver side of the disc from the center outward with a dry, soft, lint-free, cotton cloth.

    Note Do not use a paper cloth, and do not use a circular motion to clean the disc. These can scratch the disc.
  3. Reinsert the disc in the CD or DVD drive.

    If the computer can read the disc, you are finished.
    If the computer still cannot read the disc, go to step 4.
  4. Try again to clean the disc by using a cloth dampened with water, or dampened with a commercial CD or DVD cleaning solution.
  5. Dry the disc thoroughly, and then reinsert it in the CD or DVD drive.
  6. If the computer can read the disc, you are finished.
    If the computer still cannot read the disc, go to method 2.

Method 2: Check the disc for damage

If the disc is clean, check whether it is damaged. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Remove the disc from the drive, and then examine the disc for scratches or cracks.
  2. If the disc is damaged, try another disc to see whether the CD or DVD drive can read it.
  3. If the computer still cannot read a disc, there may be a problem with the drive. Go to method 3 to troubleshoot the CD or DVD drive.
    If the computer can read the other disc, there is a problem with original CD or DVD. Contact the manufacturer of the damaged disc to obtain a replacement.

Method 3: Try a different disc drive

If the disc is clean and undamaged, check whether there is a problem with the drive. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. If the computer has more than one disc drive, insert the disc in a different CD or DVD drive to see whether it can read the disc.
    If your computer does not have more than one disc drive, you can insert the disc in a different computer.
  2. If the other CD or DVD drive can read the disc, there may be a problem with your CD or DVD drive. Go to method 5.
    If the other CD or DVD drive cannot read the disc, the disc may not be compatible with the drive. Go to method 4.

Method 4: Make sure that the disc is compatible with the drive

Check the following list to make sure that the disc that you are trying to use is compatible with your CD or DVD drive.
  • A DVD disc is incompatible with a standard CD drive.
  • A CD-RW disc is incompatible with a CD drive that does not support CD-RW discs.
  • A DVD disc is incompatible with a drive that does not have a DVD logo on the front.
If the disc is compatible, go to method 5.
If the disc is incompatible, use a compatible disc or contact the vendor for a compatible replacement.

Method 5: Use Windows Update to check for updated drivers

If the disc is compatible with your CD or DVD drive, check for updated drivers that the CD or DVD drive may be missing. To check for driver updates that you can install, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://update.microsoft.com
If these methods do not resolve your issue, try the advanced troubleshooting steps in this article. If you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting, you might want to ask someone for help, or you might want to contact Support. For information about how to do this, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus/

Advanced Troubleshooting

If methods 1 through 5 did not resolve the issue, you can follow these methods to try to isolate and resolve the problem.

Method 1: Test the disc by using the command prompt to copy files

Try to copy files from the disc to the hard disk. If the hard disk cannot copy files, the disc might be damaged. If the files are copied successfully, there may be file types on the disc that the hard disk cannot read, or there may be a problem with the CD or DVD drive.

To test the disc by using a command prompt to copy files, follow these steps:
  1. Create a test folder on the hard disk, and then give the folder a folder name such as "cdtest." This is the folder to which you will try to copy files.
  2. Click Start, and then click Run.
  3. Copy and paste (or type) cmd in the Open box, and then press ENTER.
  4. Copy the files from the CD or DVD drive to the test folder on the hard disk. To do this, type xcopy DiscDrive:\*.* HardDiskDrive:\cdtest /v /e at the command prompt, and then press ENTER. Make sure that you replace “cdtest” with the name of your test folder.

    Note In this step, DiscDrive is the drive letter of the CD or DVD drive with which you have problems. HardDiskDrive is the drive letter of the hard disk drive to which you want to copy these files.
  5. If you are asked whether cdtest specifies a file name or a directory name, press F.
  6. If you successfully copied the files from the disc to the hard disk, the disc is not damaged. To remove the copied files, type rd /s cdtest at the command prompt, and then press ENTER.

    If you cannot copy the files, the disc may be damaged. Contact the manufacturer of the damaged disc to obtain a replacement.

    To continue trying to isolate the problem and test the CD or DVD drive, go to method 2.

Method 2: Test the CD or DVD drive in a "clean boot" state

If the disc is readable and undamaged, there may be some hardware or software that is interfering with the CD or DVD drive. You can test this by inserting the disc into the drive after restarting your computer in a clean boot state. This helps you determine whether any hardware or software is interfering with the CD or DVD drive. To test this, follow these steps:
  1. Restart the computer in a clean boot state.

    Note For more information about how to start Windows with a minimal set of drivers, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    310353 How to configure Windows XP to start in a "clean boot" state
  2. After the computer is restarted, exit all programs and applications that may be using the CD or DVD drive.
    1. First, right-click each icon in the notification area, and then click Exit.

      Note The notification area is located at the far right of the taskbar, near the clock. Some programs that are listed in the notification area do not have an Exit command. Therefore, you may have to click Quit, Close, or Disable, depending on the commands that are available for that program.
    2. Click Start, and then click Run.
    3. Copy and paste (or type) taskmgr in the Open box, and then press ENTER. Windows Task Manager opens.
    4. Click the Applications tab.
    5. If any programs appear in the Task list, click the name of the program to select it, and then click End Task.
    6. Repeat the previous step until the Task list is empty.
    7. Close Windows Task Manager.
  3. Reinsert the disc in the CD or DVD drive. If the CD or DVD drive can read the disc, there may be other programs preventing the drive from reading the disc. Go to method 3. If the CD or DVD drive still cannot read the disc, go to method 4. Or, if you are not specifically using a DVD drive, you may want to contact Support. For information about how to contact Support, go to the "Next Steps" section.

Method 3: Change the CD or DVD drive configuration

If there are programs that are preventing the drive from reading the disc, you can try to resolve this issue by configuring the drive to run in direct memory access (DMA) mode. DMA mode is a high performance mode for transferring data to and from devices. These include CD and DVD drives. To configure the CD or DVD drive to run in DMA mode, follow these steps:
  1. Configure the CD or DVD drive to run in DMA mode. For more information about how to switch your computer's disc drive controller to DMA mode, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    310751 Device settings are hard to find in Windows XP
  2. Reinsert the disc in the CD or DVD drive.
  3. If the CD or DVD drive can read the disc, you are finished.

    If the CD or DVD drive still cannot read the disc, try to troubleshoot DVD components by using method 4. Or, if you are not specifically using a DVD drive, you may want to contact Support. For information about how to contact Support, go to the “Next Steps” section.

Method 4: Troubleshoot DVD problems

If the advanced troubleshooting methods 1 through 3 do not resolve the issue, and you have problems specifically with a DVD drive, follow these steps to try to isolate and resolve the problem.

Prerequisite

You must use a DVD drive with a DVD logo on the front, not a standard CD drive.

Step 1: Unplug any cables that are connected

  1. Unplug any cables that are connected to the video outputs of the computer.
  2. Reinsert the disc in the DVD drive.
  3. If the DVD drive can read the disc, you may have problems with the video hardware installed on your computer. Contact the manufacturer of the video hardware for support or for a replacement.
If the DVD drive still cannot read the disc, go to step 2.

Step 2: Update the DVD driver

  1. Contact the manufacturer of the DVD drive to obtain an updated driver for the DVD drive, and then follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the driver.
  2. Reinsert the disc in the DVD drive.
  3. If the DVD drive can read the disc, the problem was caused by an outdated driver. You are finished.
If the DVD drive still cannot read the disc, go to step 3.

Step 3: Obtain a hardware-based DVD decoder or software-based DVD decoder

  1. Contact the manufacturer of the DVD drive to obtain a hardware-based DVD decoder or software-based DVD decoder, and then follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the decoder.

    Note Many video adapters help decode DVD discs. However, the video adapter may not fully decode a DVD movie.
  2. Reinsert the disc in the DVD drive.
  3. If the DVD drive can read the disc, the problem was caused by an outdated DVD decoder. You are finished.

    If the DVD drive still cannot read the disc, make sure that the sound card in the computer is compatible with the DVD drive. To do this, contact the manufacturer of the sound card.
  4. Reinsert the disc in the DVD drive.
  5. If you still have problems with the disc, contact the manufacturer to obtain a new disc.
If this method does not resolve the issue, you might want to review the articles in the "Similar Problems and Solutions" section, or you might want to contact Support. For information about how to contact Support, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus

Similar problems and resolutions

If the methods in this article do not resolve the issue, you can try the troubleshooting steps offered in similar Microsoft Knowledge Base articles.
308012 How to troubleshoot problems that occur when you play a DVD in Windows XP
324129 How to troubleshoot issues that occur when you write data to a CD-R or CD-RW optical disc in Windows XP
314096 Advanced troubleshooting for issues that occur when you are installing a new CD or DVD drive on Windows XP
818733 Windows XP does not recognize a DVD-RW disc
126380 Troubleshooting CD-ROM Problems in Windows 2000 and Windows NT
218617 How to Troubleshoot CD-ROM or DVD-ROM Read Issues

Next Steps

If these methods did not help you, you might want to ask someone you know for help, or you can use the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site to find other solutions. Some services that the Microsoft Customer Support Services Web site provides include the following:
  • Searchable Knowledge Base: Search technical support information and self-help tools for Microsoft products.
  • Solution Centers: View product-specific frequently asked questions and support highlights.
  • Other Support Options: Use the Web to ask a question, contact Microsoft Customer Support Services, or provide feedback.
If you continue to have questions after you use these Microsoft Web sites or if you cannot find a solution on the Microsoft Support Services Web site, click the following link to contact Support:
http://support.microsoft.com/contactus


For help with CD or DVD drive problems in Windows Vista, visit the following Microsoft web page:
Fix problems in which your CD or DVD drive cannot read or write media in Windows

Properties

Article ID: 321641 - Last Review: August 28, 2013 - Revision: 13.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbfixme kbmatsfixme kbresolve kbtshoot kbexpertisebeginner kbprb kbceip kbhowto kberrmsg kbinfo KB321641

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