Troubleshooting CD-ROM Problems

No sound

Another common problem with CD-ROM drives is that the drive seems to work fine when installing software, yet when playing a music CD there is no sound. If you have checked the obvious, such as speakers powered on, volume up, etc., without success, then you should check the connection between the CD-ROM drive and your sound card. Music is not transferred through the regular IDE or SCSI data cable, but through a separate cable that connects the drive directly to your sound card. If you look at this picture, you’ll notice this cable on the left. Make sure that your drive does indeed have this cable and that it is securely connected to the appropriate port on your sound card. If your sound chip is not on a separate sound card in a PCI or ISA slot but integrated into your motherboard, then there will be an appropriate plug on the motherboard.

CD-ROM drive letter changed

Windows usually assigns the first available drive letter after the last hard drive partition drive letter. For example, if you have two hard drives with two partitions each, the hard drives will be C:, D:, E: and F:, and the CD-ROM drive will default to G:. This system is nothing unusual and usually works just fine. The problem you can run into later on is when you start adding or removing hard drives or partitions. This might cause the drive letter assignment for the CD-ROM drive to shift up or down. This can cause a problem when you try to use a program that requires its CD in the drive while using it. For example, if you want to play a game like Quake or Unreal Tournament, you always need to insert the CD first. If the CD is not in the drive, you will be prompted. When you install the game (or other software), often the application will make a note of the drive letter that it was installed from and expect the CD to be available at that drive letter in future use. When the drive letter has changed, this won’t be the case. Some programs will complain about it and ask you to point it to the correct location, while others might flat out refuse to work. The tedious but safe solution to this problem would be to reinstall any application that behaves like that right over itself after a CD-ROM drive letter change. This will update the application with the current drive letter. The quick but not always successful or safe solution is to use a third-party application such as Drive Mapper or Change of Address to search the registry and INI files on your hard drive for references to the CD-ROM drive letter and update it with the new letter.

CD-ROM won’t read certain disks

Another common symptoms with older CD-ROM drives is that they seem to be extremely picky about what CDs they like. Some CDs it reads just fine, while others it has to try several times before it gets it, and yet other it refuses to read at all. This is nothing unusual, CDs are not always equal, the quality of even store-bought, professionally manufactured CDs can vary immensely. Each CD production facility could be using a different type or brand of blank CD to manufacture the software, different machinery, different tolerance levels, QA procedures, etc. In addition, you can run into problems when you try reading a CD-R (recordable, a CD that was created with a CD burner), as older CD-ROM drives cannot read them.

Leave a Comment: