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12/09/05 Help! My system no longer recognizes my DVD or CD-ROM drives

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 8, 2005 6:41 AM PST

One day I went to bed, and my computer was fine; the next
morning, my system no longer recognized my DVD-RW and
CD-RW. As far as I know, I did nothing to provoke such
outrageous behavior. Both drivers load without a problem, and there's power going to both drives. I checked the control panel and got yellow with error 41. What gives? I love burning stuff to CD. I am desperately missing my CD fix. Can you help a fellow out? Running Windows XP. Thanks in advance!

Submitted by: Nike W.

(First, a word of WARNING: This week?s answer and some recommendations suggest the task of editing your Windows registry, MAKE SURE you back up your registry in case you do something wrong and need to revert. If you are unfamiliar with this task, keep your hands off and let someone who is experienced in this field perform it. You don't want to accidentally delete/edit a file that is critical to your system--which can/will wreak havoc in your computer. So be cautious and know what you are doing before proceeding! Edit and Delete files in the Windows registry at your own risk. Thank you.)



Let's see if we can resolve this for you. I will assume you don't have removable drives since this is typically not a plug-and-play issue. Also, outdated, incorrect, or damaged drivers may in fact load but not operate well enough for your hardware to work correctly. You may need to run Windows Update to make sure your OS is functioning properly with other newer drivers and programs.

The error code 41, with the yellow you are getting, is in fact for drivers that were loaded, but Windows cannot find the non-plug-and-play device. This can happen from a simple update that may have occurred, even if you had no knowledge of it. It can cause a conflict with the drivers that renders your hardware unusable, as in your case.

First of all...Do you have a good anti -virus software, a firewall and ad\spyware remover? These are things to be considered as you may have a virus or some other type of infected file that may be doing damage to your system drivers amongst other files you don't know about yet. Free anti virus programs such as AVG are good and ZoneAlarm for your firewall, there is also Ewidos spyware\malware remover, Adaware, amongst others that are or have free versions. If all checks out and you have done the above, let's move on...

The first thing to do would be to click and open My Computer ,find Local Disk C: , which is typically your main hard drive and OS (operating system), right click\properties and then the tools tab\ and click the Check Now under the Error checking. A box will come up and you should put a check in each one, auto fix and attempt recovery of bad sectors. Click start. You will be told you cannot run this and asked to do so on next start up, click YES. You then close all windows and restart the pc. It will start the error check on it's own and may take a while to complete. When it is back to the desktop , you can then see if your drives are working as this will sometimes fix errors. This is far from an absolute for your type of problem but it may solve other issues allowing you to better test your problem at hand.

The next thing I would like to suggest is a system restore. This can restore your computer to a working state before the problem occured. If you are sure this issue occured the morning you woke up, then you would want to restore a day or two, or the closest possible day to before the night you went to bed and shut the pc down. To do this, click on START\ All Programs\Accessories\System Tools\System Restore... You will be asked to restore or create a restore point..choose restore to the nearest date before the trouble. If this does not work we go on to your drivers.

You may also check a few things, click START\Control pannel, (switch to classic view) and then click on Administrative Tools. Find Event Viewer and click on it to open. To the left , click on "System" and you will find a list to the right now. You can scroll through to the time and date close to when an error has occured. You will see the yellow warning symbol or the red circle error symbol with an X in it. You may see the cdrom , or something pertaining to it , under the "source" column. You can double click it and a box will come up with an (albeit not always user friendly) description of the problem and a link to microstoft to help you pinpoint the problem. Not always do they have a fix or the one for your issue. You should also look in the "application" section above the system and security, and follow the same steps.

Now, i would like to touch on the driver issue. The first thing you should do is on your desktop, right click My Computer\ Properties\Hardware tab\Device Manager\ (find DVD\CD-ROM drives and click on the + in the box next to it to expand it.
What you should see are your drives listed, and should in this case, have a yellow exclamation point.

<The reason may be you need an updated driver for the device to function correctly with perhaps an update that occured on your system or something you installed\uninstalled earlier on in the week even, you may not realize or remember happened. >

Right click the drive, and choose to update the driver. If the driver updates succesfully the yellow "!" will be resolved and your device should in theory work. You may need to restart the pc for this to take effect. This is not always the case however and not always so easy to accomplish. You may be asked to insert a cd with the drivers or access the internet to search for the appropriate drivers. You may also need to search for updated drivers on your own. This would mean finding the site that supports your drives, locating the correct updated drivers and downloading and installing them yourself.

If this doesn't work and assuming once again, that you have non-plug and play drives you may also click Start\Control pannel\ <switch to classic view on the left upper corner>click \Add Hardware and follow the instructions.
This will help you to troubleshoot and hopefully help you repair this issue.

There is also a possibility that your IDE cable has loosened a bit, is no longer making a proper connection, may be bad , or your IDE socket on the motherboard is not functioning. This is the extreme of what may be wrong but first, test the connections to see if they are still tight. Note: if you are not sure about this, contact someone who is skilled enough to go into your pc, it's better to be safe than sorry.

You first need to make sure your computer is unplugged from the wall outlet and unplug any peripheral devices. Try to put the pc up on a level elevated surface that is easy to work on and away from other electrical devices or speakers, and a surface that does not promote static. You then need to (depending on the type of pc) remove the screws which hold the side cover on the tower itself. Some have slide off sides, some the whole outer casing slides off upwards. There are many different pcs but these are just some of the more common methods. Now, before you touch anything inside the pc, you need either a "grounding wrist strap" or to ground yourself to the chassis of the pc in order to prevent damage from ESD <electro static
discharge> This would be like rubbing your feet on carpet and touching
discharge> a doorknob and zapping a cat's nose, but it's far more than enough to do damage to a pc component, circuit, or chip , on the motherboard. Try not to stand on a carpet or rug while doing this, it also promotes more ESD.

Now, your IDE cables are long flat cables made up of many small wires in a row that connect to the pins on the motherboard and your Hard drives, cd drives etc...Notice the position of your rom drives, locate them inside the pc, and make sure the ends of the IDE cables are in well by pushing the connection onto the drive and motherboard, (not too hard though). Also make sure your power cables on the drives are on securely also. They are located to the right of the IDE cable. If you have a lot of vibration where you live as I do, trains etc...this can cause a cable to loosen. Put the pc back together properly and then hook up you peripherals etc...plug the pc back in and boot it up. If this does not work, we get into your registry...

This is quite a bit more technical. I suggest if you feel uncomfortable in any way or don't feel you are able to do this, "don't." Making changes to the registry can cause your OS to be rendered completely useless and you should back up your information in any way you can, since your disk drives do not function.
That said, we need to try this....

Start the Registry Editor by clicking on the Start\Run\ ...then type
(regedit) in the command box, click ok. Look for the Upper filters value under the following key in the registry...
On the edit menu click delete and then click ok...
Look for the lower filters value under the same key in registry...
On the edit menu click delete, and then click ok...
After you remove the upper filters value and the lower filters value and you have a loss of functions in a certain program, you may need to reinstall the certain program.
Now you restart your computer..

If all went well, your drives will now be detected properly...If not...try this as well,

Reboot your computer, tap the DEL key every two seconds or so as soon as the computer begins to power up. This will take you to your CMOS settings. I have to stress the point , do not edit anything in CMOS unless you absolutely know what you are doing, as this can cause you startup problems among many other problems. For this situation you will simply browse or use Auto Detect. You will have to use your TAB key and ENTER key to get around since the mouse will not function in the CMOS box. There should be an IDE HDD AUTO DETECTION or something similar, this varies from pc to pc. You need to TAB until highlighted, hit ENTER and under the {Hard drive and second Hard drive, (may say auto or no drive if not one there) it should say CDROM and another CDROM} under that.

This is a very simple example of some of what you may see....and as I said, may vary from pc to pc...
Example: User >typically a hard drive
Example: Auto >typically a hard drive
Example: CDROM >typically cdrom\dvd
Example:NOT FOUND >typically cdrom\dvd

If not you may use AUTO DETECT which will detect Hard drives and CDROM devices, TAB until you have highlighted one of the above examples and hit ENTER, if it then auto detects, you now have CDROM listed under both, hit the ESC key and then F10, when asked to save to CMOS and quit hit Y and enter. You will be taken out of CMOS and the pc will reboot. Hopefully the pc will now detect the drives. If none of the above helped, then you may have a more serious problem and need to take your pc into a liscensed technician to have the motherboard looked at.

Good luck with everything!

Submitted by: Paul K. of Gladstone, Michigan
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Honorable mentions
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 8, 2005 6:41 AM PST

(First, a word of WARNING: This week?s answer and some recommendations suggest the task of editing your Windows registry, MAKE SURE you back up your registry in case you do something wrong and need to revert. If you are unfamiliar with this task, keep your hands off and let someone who is experienced in this field perform it. You don't want to accidentally delete/edit a file that is critical to your system--which can/will wreak havoc in your computer. So be cautious and know what you are doing before proceeding! Edit and Delete files in the Windows registry at your own risk. Thank you.)


Hi, Nike! Error 41 means the following: " Windows successfully loaded the device driver for this hardware but cannot find the hardware device." Unfortunately, that doesn't help us out much.

In my time at Dell, I saw this kind of situation a lot; about 85% of the time it was a spyware or virus problem, about 10% of the time a firmware update issue, and about 5% of the time a hardware issue. Given that both drives have died overnight, unless you had a major electrical storm come through that might have sent an electrical surge through the motherboard and burned out the secondary IDE controller, I'm prepared to rule out hardware issues for now.

Here's how to proceed. First, just for forms sake, let's run a quick check to see if your hardware is working OK. To do this, we want to check the BIOS and see if the BIOS is finding the drives. The method for getting into the BIOS varies from computer to computer; but on most systems, press the 'delete' key on the keyboard multiple times, immediately after you turn the computer on. Once you're into the BIOS, see if the system has found your optical drives. If they're not listed, we KNOW it's a hardware problem. (If they are listed, it could still be a hardware problem, but it's much less likely). If you've checked diligently and you're absolutely sure the drives are not listed, I'd try replacing the IDE cable that connects the drives to the motherboard. If that doesn't fix it, it very likely is time to replace the motherboard. Take the system to a local repair shop, and get a second opinion.

If the drives are listed, then it's almost certainly a windows XP problem. Here's what to do next: First, download a fresh copy of either Ad-Aware or Spy Sweeper. These are spyware removal programs you can download for free from many sources on the internet (such as C/Net My personal preference is Ad Aware, but Spy Sweeper is also a very good program. Install and run Ad Aware, accepting all the defaults during installation; this will cause the program to connect to the internet automatically and download the latest spyware definitions, and then automatically scan your drive for spyware.

If you've found spyware on your machine (and trust me: if you're not already using a spyware program, there will be literally hundreds of instances) go ahead and remove it. In ad aware, all you need do is RIGHT click on any spyware category listed; a menu will pop up. LEFT click on 'select all' and then click on 'next' in the lower right hand corner of the Ad Aware program window. This will delete all the spyware on your machine. In rare instances, it will be necessary to restart your computer, and run ad aware again. There's a very comprehensive help file that comes with ad aware, and will give you further details.

Once the spyware is off your machine, try your burners again. If they're working, great; if not, then we'll check for viruses. Unfortunately, you can NOT use an onbard virus scanner program, such as McAffee or Norton; the reason is that if a virus has made its way onto your machine, it will have corrupted any virus scanner program so that it no longer works properly. Instead, you must scan your hard drives remotely from another computer, performing what is known in the industry as a 'server side scan'. Fortunately, Norton offers this service for free, from their website; Trend Micro has a similar service as well, called Housecall. To run the Norton program, go to their main page, click on 'viruses and risks' at the top, and then click on the 'Symantec Security Check' icon at the BOTTOM of the viruses and risks page. This software requires full Active-X control support, so it will not work in a browser such as Firefox; your best bet is to run the program from within the standard Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. If you have trouble, make sure your privacy and security settings are set to their default levels.

If you come up with viruses, you've got yourself a difficult problem to sort out. You can try checking the Norton website for instructions on removing the specific viruses detected, and you can download and run individual virus removal tools; these may help. Also, Microsoft has a free tool available called the 'malicious software removal tool'; go to their website and download and run the software. And other companies, such as Macaffe, Trend Micro, Panda, and all the others, have similar services and information. But I want you to understand that very often, the only real way to completely remove viruses and fix the damage they've done, is to wipe the drive and reinstall everything. This is a hugely time consuming project which can easily consume an entire weekend; and of course, it will erase everything you've ever put on the machine. Every song, every email, every spreadsheet, all your pictures, all your documents, all your tax information... everything will be gone.

If you do have viruses, and you can not clear them, and you have data on the machine that you have not backed up but still wish to keep... there is a way out. Remove the existing hard drive, replace it with a new drive, rebuild the machine on that new drive - making absolutely certain that you have abundant virus protection installed - and, when you're finished, reinstall your old hard drive as a slave hard drive. You'll have to rejumper the drive as a slave, but that's easily done. Once you've got the old hard drive recognised by windows, scan it using the working, uncorrupted antivirus software on your new main drive, and remove all the viruses. This is a moderately expensive solution, but it will save most - possibly even all - of your data. You'll also get a brand new hard drive out of the deal. One Caveat: if you go this route, DISCONNECT FROM THE INTERNET until you have the operating system installed, the firewall turned on, and antivirus software installed. Your connection to the internet should be the very last thing you physically plug in. Otherwise, your system will be corrupted with viruses before you even finish installing it. It takes all of 15 seconds for a virus to infect an unprotected machine over the internet; and you don't even have to have the browser or email program running. That's why a firewall, and a robust antivirus program with current definitions, is absolutely mandatory.

However, lets assume that you don't have a virus or spyware problem, but the drives still aren't working. What now? Well, I'd try using the 'System Restore' option built into windows XP. You can access it by clicking on start / programs / accessories / system restore. This will start the system restore program, which will 'roll the operating system back' to a date when the drives were working. Using the program is simplicity itself; just click on a date on the displayed calendar when the drives were working, and for which a back up point exists, and the operating system will re-configure itself back to the state it was in on that date. Windows system restore solves many problems, and takes only 5 or 10 minutes to run.

Why didn't we use system restore to begin with? Because viruses - and even some spyware - will mess with system restore, and prevent it from restoring properly. That's why it's important to check for viruses and spyware, and eliminate them first. However, running system restore will also restore any spyware we eliminated, which is a bit of a frustration. But I'd do it anyway, then check the drives. I'd then run ad aware again, to get rid of the spyware we just restored.

Let's recap: we've checked the BIOS to verify the computer is finding the optical drives, we've eliminated spyware, we've checked for viruses, and we've run system restore... and it STILL isn't working. What now? If the optical drives are listed in the BIOS, I'd try to perform a windows XP repair. To do this, you'll need your windows XP installation disk.

(Time for my 30 second rant at computer manufacturers: very often, computer manufacturers are no longer including a real operating system disk. At Dell, it was called the 'media reduction initiative'. I had another name for it, which was decidedly less complimentary. But most of the companies are failing to ship an operating CD now, and that makes it impossible to perform a windows XP repair. If you can find a copy of the operating system that shipped on your computer, you can perform a windows repair; but you must have the disk. To their credit, Dell will - if you beg, grovel, and plead - send you an actual copy of the XP disk for free, if you request it while on warranty. Other manufacturers won't even do that.)

But, let us assume you have the actual windows XP operating system disk. To perform a windows XP repair, you'll need to boot from the optical drive. Place the CD in the drive, and reboot. Get into the BIOS, and set the boot order as necessary to boot from the optical drives before the hard drive; then save the BIOS changes and reboot again. On reboot, you should see a message on the bottom of the screen, 'press any key to boot from CD'. Press a key; once the system files load, which takes several minutes, you'll either be offered a repair option or an installation option, or both, depending on the version of XP you have. (Don't try to perform a repair from the system console; it will drop you into a DOS style environment, and you'll need a good working knowledge of DOS to get anything done.) If there's no obvious repair option, choose the installation option; you should then get a screen that states, 'Windows has found an existing copy of the operating system. Would you like to try to repair this installation?' ... or words to that effect. Perform the repair, and that should do it. If you get a screen that is talking about formatting or listing partitions, you've gone the wrong direction; do NOT partition or format your drive! If you wind up there, just push F3 to escape, and try again.

The only other thing you can try is performing a firmware update. While updating your optical drive firmware is a good thing to do on a regular basis, it almost certainly is not the cause of your problems. A firmware update for an optical drive serves to update certain parameters within the optical drive, which allows the drive to remain current as newer standards appear. It also allows the manufacturer to easily remedy subtle bugs in the optical drive hardware programming, which would otherwise require replacing actual circuit boards. To check for a firmware update for your drive, you'll need to know the manufacturer of the drive, and the model number. Go to the manufacturers website, find your drive, and see if there's a firmware update available for it. If there is, apply it; this will ensure that your drive is up to date.

At this point, your drives should be up and running. To summarise: start by checking for hardware issues, by checking if the optical drives are listed in the BIOS; if not, replacing the IDE cable might fix the problem. Spyware is the most common cause of an optical drive malfunction, and Ad Aware or Spy Sweeper can be downloaded and run to remove these threats. Viruses will also cause this problem, and you can diagnose this by running a server side scan from the Norton or Trend Micro websites. Performing a system restore will often work, and a windows XP system repair - if you have the original OS CD - will provide a comprehensive, methodical rebuild of the OS, without erasing any of your data. Finally, updating the firmware on your optical drives is a good idea, but probably is not the cause of this problem.

So there you go, Nike - I'll bet that fixes your system, and just in time for Christmas! Hope it helps you out.

Best Wishes,

Submitted by: Charles W.



Think---something happened from the time your computer was turned OFF at bed time to the time it was turned back ON in the morning? Let's first assume you did not try to remove any Sony DRM files--or did you? From the only information you give, I can only assume driver corruption, a virus or other malware. I would first do a system restore to a previous day (assuming you have Windows XP). If that does not solve your problem, run a complete virus scan. If your virus definitions are not up to date, you can do a free scan at: Next I would check for spyware, malware etc. using the free SpyBot-Search & Destroy and the free AdAware programs. Since you already know how to get into the "device manager" (you saw the yellow exclamation mark), try first upgrading your drivers. If that doesn't work, I would UNINSTALL both drives from the "device manager" and re-boot your computer. This will force Windows to find the drives and assign drivers.

You really haven't provided much information, but most likely this is an easy fix. To get to "system restore", click START, then PROGRAMS, then ACCESSORIES, then SYSTEM TOOLS and finally SYSTEM RESTORE. You want to restore your system to the day before---or earlier. You will NOT lose your data. I'm also assuming you have not done a complete system backup--just in case of a complete meltdown, so system restore is about your only option. Please let us all know what happens and if none of this worked, there should be many other suggestions here to try. As a final resort, try a Google search for your problem. You will undoubtedly find BIOS hints and other ideas that could possibly solve your problem. Good Luck!!!

Submitted by: Pete W.



Even though XP is supposed to be a wonder operating system, many times those who have installed Sp2 lose hardware compatibility in some area's. Even though you may have 'legacy' devices enabled, proprietary systems manufacturer's have software re-written for their own purposes. If you know how to use the Registry Editor, some may actually have to change the 'Setup' keys in the registry to allow installation of devices. If you don't know how to, better left alone.

Once a drive becomes unassociated even though it is recognized, you may have to add the drivers to your autoexec.bat and config.sys files in the root of C: and enable Windows to load those files through both Msconfig and in the Comspect for XP in System/Advanced/Environment Variables. Just make sure the paths are real like this: Autoexec.bat = LH=C:\<directory>\MSCDEX.EXE /D:cd001 /v /M:12 /D:MTMIDE01 /M:16 [be careful of the LH at the first, that is LoadHigh and requires 'himem.sys' to be loaded out of config.sys--you can try it without the LH and it will work fine and XP will pick up the extra memory]; and Config.sys = 'device=C:\<directory>\cdromdrv.sys /d:cd001 /v /udma [or you can use 'oakcdrom.sys' as the driver with the same switches--it comes with most windows installation]
Depending upon your version of XP, there may be a directory named C:\Windows\Command which may contain some of these files; or, they may simply be in C:\Windows or C:\Windows\System or System32.
As a generality, Gateway and Dell specially will lose compatibility and the simple reload of the drivers from autoexec.bat and config.sys will re-initialize the drives. You reboot the system to allow for the drivers, when it is working properly, you can then take the drivers out of those files or take them out of the Environment Variables.
Have a nice day.

Submitted by: Wyo



Did you recently install Roxio Media Creator 8? I did, and the same thing happened to me. Roxio was no help in solving the problem, and the forum was less than helpful. I ended up reformatting and reinstalling everything, including an earlier version of the DVD hardware and software, and things seem to be running well now.

Submitted by: Fred P.



Good Day Nike W.

Posible Causes and Solutions for "error 41"!

This is becoming a common problem with Windows XP. Sometimes it is a result of a computer going into hypernation with a corrupt registry or drivers. But more often than not, it's something that you probably ate or God is getting back at you. Just kidding! Sometimes (as you explain) these things can just happen and not even Microsoft's super techs can explain it. A prime cause can be a corrupt driver or maybe even an intermittent connection.

I'm not going to try to magically analize your computer for it's particular cause at this time. Because right about now you just want it fixed. So now I will attempt to help you run down a solution.

I am going to assume your still stuck without your "Daily Dose of Disk Writing", and still need a fix.

1. First off, have you tried to uninstall the devices in " Control Panel" >, "Systems">, "Hardware">, and finally arriving at "Device Manager". In the list, click on the device (a panel pops up) and then on the "Driver" tab. Next click "Uninstall" for each device it is not recognising (if they are showing up in the list). Now reboot and let your system reinstall them. But make sure you use either the "Install CD" or freshly downloaded driver file. Not the drivers already installed in the "System" (in case their corrupt). If this solution works then your back to your (by this time badly needed) daily fix.

2. If however this fails then the problem is more likely than not a "Registry" issue. The following is a run down of the steps to take to get you up and running again if this is the case.

(a.) Start Registry Editor (Start, Run and type in regedit then click O.K)

(b.) Locate the UpperFilters value under the following key in the registry:


(c.) On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click OK.

(d.) Locate the LowerFilters value under the same key in the registry:


(e.) On the Edit menu, click Delete, and then click OK.

Quit Registry Editor.

NOTE: After you remove the Upperfilters value and the Lowerfilters value, if you notice lost functionality in a particular program, such as CD recording software, you may need to reinstall that software.

Restart your computer make sure you write a "CD" or "DVD" before you end up in the hospital or worst yet trying to contact Microsoft for help.

As is often the case in these matters, help never arives from them unless you fork over big bucks. Sad

But hopefully this will "Fix You Up" just fine. Wink

Submitted by: Tony T.




There's a known issue that sounds an awful lot like what's happening here. If you happen to have Roxio's Easy CD creator version 5.01 or later or Roxio DirectCD 3.01 or later installed, check to make sure it's still there. There have been reports of this phenomenon involved where Easy CD or DirectCD is removed.

Microsoft even has a fix for this which can be found at:;en-us;314060

Submitted by: Pete Z.



Since basically the same thing happened to me just this past summer, I would suggest that the problem is the burning software itself. Either one or more drivers or files are corrupt, and/or data in the Registry is amiss --in which case, an uninstall of the software, followed by a "clean" install should resolve the problem and error. This is also known to happen if you have more than one CD/DVD buring program on your system ...apparently they do not play nicely together.

A "clean" install of any software involves fully uninstalling the present copy from your system, as well as then clearing out any of the software data and keys from the Windows Registry, rebooting, and reinstalling a fresh copy of the software.

First make certain that burning software is not running in the background. Then you can use the "Add or Remove Programs" applet in the Windows Control Panel to uninstall your burning software.

You would then need to remove any remnants in the Windows Registry. PLEASE NOTE!!.... Editing the Windows Registry should never be done without first backing it up. You can find step-by-step instructions and info on how to accomplish, as well as how to restore the Registry if something goes wrong at :

After backing up the Registry, go back into the Registry, and left-click once on "My Computer" in the left-hand pane to highlight it. Then click CTRL+F to bring up the FIND dialog box (or click Edit> Find). Make certain there is a checkmark in all three "Look At" boxes. Type the name of your software (ie: Roxio, Nero) on the "Find What" line, and hit your ENTER key. If and when a key data is found, delete the reference. Continue to search for and then delete any additional data keys by clicking the F3 key on your keyboard. Your search is over when you get the message that searching the registry is finished.

Close down the the Registry Editor, and restart your system. Reinstall your software. Be sure you have the very latest software and drivers for your Windows OS, by visiting the burning software manufacturer's website, and download if necessary. After reinstalling, restart your system once again. Your CD and DVD drives should now work once again, without getting any error backtalk from them;-)

Submitted by: Susan F. of Brooklyn, NY
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My Windows XP laptop no longer recognizes any PC cards
by nrsmd / December 9, 2005 5:30 AM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions

No conflicts noted under Hardware on system, all of a sudden my laptop won't recognize any PC cards.
Is it software or hardware issues?

How do I check?


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patch by microsoft for this problem
by kwillisw / December 11, 2005 6:20 AM PST
In reply to: Honorable mentions
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Other advice from our members
by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / December 8, 2005 6:44 AM PST

(First, a word of WARNING: This week?s answer and some recommendations suggest the task of editing your Windows registry, MAKE SURE you back up your registry in case you do something wrong and need to revert. If you are unfamiliar with this task, keep your hands off and let someone who is experienced in this field perform it. You don't want to accidentally delete/edit a file that is critical to your system--which can/will wreak havoc in your computer. So be cautious and know what you are doing before proceeding! Edit and Delete files in the Windows registry at your own risk. Thank you.)


Well Nike W., Microsoft has done it again, another glitch in APPLICATIONS area of XP. I had the same problem, got another player/burner etc. as warranty had expired on my VAIO laptop. A few months later Whamo-Bamo AGAIN. Visited the Microsoft product site (almost every day),they now are admitting to the problem AND have a hotfix available by request! Hooray! I believe this will solve your problem. It is NOT the player. So go to MSN product support, self help support, you will find MANY answers there for XP glitches. This 'application' issue affects ALL 5 versions of XP.(whoever heard of writing a program that uses USB exclusively with no USB support written into the program?) Microsoft has once again created a disjointed, self destructive, huge piece of junk program in quintuplicate. I will however give them 5 stars for the NEW support site format. It is truly transparent!! May this credit your karmic account with patience enough for 3 lifetimes.

Submitted by: Sailmx



Hello Nike

Windows has allows found ways to eat and lose files, files that you and I know the computer needs but alas every version of windows does this. This is why you hear about people having to reformat yearly if not sooner sometimes.

A easy way to possibly repair this is to let windows do it on a reboot. First go back to the Start/ control panel/system then click the Hardware tab and then the Device manager button. Now click on the + sign for the CD rom and highlight the Cd writer that has the yellow !. Now this might sound crazy but right click on the offending Cd writer and selct UNINSTALL. yes uninstall. Windows will find it on the reboot as new hardware and install everything for you and if there is a file it can not find click on the browse button and derick it to the C;windows/cab file.

I hope this works for you. I have used this many times in every version of windows since win 95

Submitted by: Jerry



Did you play any *special* Sony music discs lately? Uninstall any hidden root kits from Sony during the playing of the disc? That'll wipe out the functionality of your disc drive right there!

Submitted by: Lisa H.



Regarding 'missing" DVD-RW and CD-RW, I had a similar problem that I narrowed down to either a USB HUB presence or an external device (USB hard drive). It was as mysterious as it was intermittent. And it would happen on either my P4 or AMD computers (not on a network or connected).

With respect to the P4 unit, it did not like an external USB DVD+/-RW device particularly if a CD or DVD was present on an internal CDROM drive. On the AMD it was a USB HUB that also the problems if it was powered ON at boot.

A clue now is how fast either system boots. When sluggish or slow, I unplug the external USB units or turn their power off, then re-boot.

Submitted by: Tom G. of Culver City, CA



Nike, while there are a few questions I would ordinarily ask, here are some general guidelines for this type of problem:

1) Go back into the device manager in the control panel where you saw the yellow
2) Locate the ?DVD/CD-ROM drives? setting and double click on it
3) Right click on the device(s) with the error message
4) Left click on ?Uninstall?

This alone may solve the problem for you, however, it?s a best practice to verify you have the latest drivers, etc. for you computer and its peripherals, as there may be an update that fixed the issue so:

5) Go to the computer manufacturer?s website and download and install the latest drivers and bios.
6) Restart the computer
7) Do the same with any other component that didn?t originally come with your computer, such as a second disk drive, a video card, etc.
Cool Restart the computer

If you still have the problem:

9) Unplug the power cord to the PC for at least 15 minutes
10) Start the computer

If this resolved the problem, you most likely had an electrical surge that caused a microprocessor to be ?confused? Problems like that can be avoided by using a high quality surge protector, making sure no motorized or devices are on the same circuit as your computer, and verifying your computer is properly grounded (don?t use those three prong adapters unless the ground wire is properly connected)

Submitted by: Jonathan R.



Hi there Nike W. ,

Did you make a System Restore point before this happened ? If so , you can easily "reverse" your system to a point where all went well.To activate the System Restore point , you have to go to the Start Menu and go to "All Programs" and go to "Accessories" , then choose "System Tools" and click on the "System Restore" link. It will open a window of System Restore.It will ask you what you want to do , either you choose a restore point and your computer will be rebooted and the settings will be set to the earlier point. Or you can create a restore point from here. In this case you need to select "Choose a restore point" and then you get a calendar with the restore points that are available. If you didn't make a restore point , please read on.

Well, just head over to the Start menu and choose "Control Panel". Then double-click on the "System" icon. Then choose the " Hardware" tab. In the first section there is a button called "Device Manager" Then choose the cd-r or cd-rw drives and right-click on the drive that isn't detected by Windows XP. If there isn't a drive under that section , close that window.

Close the Device Manager and go back to the "Control Panel". Click the "Hardware" button. Click "Next" and let Windows XP detect if there is new hardware on your computer. If Windows XP detects new hardware , it will install the drivers of it automatically. Then go back to the Device Manager and see if the cd-r or cd-rw drive is listed there. If not, shut down your computer and open the computer case and see if the IDE wires are firmly connected. If they are firmly connected , then it might cause conflicts with other devices.

If you know which brand the cd-r or cd-rw drive is , then visit their website to download the latest drivers. If you are lucky , then with the latest drivers , it might work out again. If not , then I am afraid I can't really help you further.

Submitted by: Pcfreakske2000



Nike W.
You haven't said what type of cd-rw and dvd-rw you have or if you have installed any different software prior to this event. I had a similar problem with my daughters computer. She is running WinXP Pro and once I installed an HP cd burner 9100 with older drivers, I lost both her regular cd and the burner. What I finally found out was that the easy creator software was not compatible with that version of windows. The drives worked together for about 2 days. I finally had to order new drivers from HP, format and reload the windows software to get rid of the easy creator software and then install the new drivers from HP.

Submitted by: Margie
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Same problem, different solution
by loosechippings / December 8, 2005 6:47 PM PST

When I had the same problem and realised it was a MS error, it was the last straw. With the help of the CNET course I have now switched to Linux - a suitable solution since I can't afford a Mac.

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You were able to get Linux(?) to Load Drivers for Your PC?
by pmchefalo / December 8, 2005 9:19 PM PST

Wow, you must be a genius! Linux generally fails on all first installs, unless the hardware is generic and old. I'm surprised to hear that Linux even supports CD-RW drives. Which distribution of Linux did you use? So what did you do with all your legacy data? Never heard of a reasonable way to transfer it.

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You were able to get Linux(?) to Load Drivers
by protagonistic / December 9, 2005 12:44 AM PST

Linux will read and write to MS formatted partitions. Data in most programs other than MS are pretty much OS independent. And since Linux doesn't care whether or not it is installed on a logical partition you can easily transfer data from Windows to Linux, but it is not nearly as easy the other way around.

As for installing Linux, I have installed many different distros on pretty modern HW and have done so successfully almost every time. The biggest problem would occur if you use a wireless network. That can be a bit tougher to handle. There are many of us who don't have a problem installing Linux and a number of other OS's. It is helpful if you do a bit of reading before plunging in, though.

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Do not need to be a genius but have a lot of patience
by jimpreston / December 9, 2005 12:49 AM PST

I have been running Linux for a number of years. I did not have much luck until RH9 and am current running a server under FC1. Current distros recognize most hardware without a problem with the exception of wireless cards for which there is limited support.

The newer distros also allow access to most file system formats including NTFS used with WinXP. In most cases NTFS is accessed as Read Only but there are drivers that can be installed to allow RW access. With read access you can access any of your old data. Getting formated data can be trickier as getting Windows programs to run in Linux is not as easy but possible using WINE.


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Not so
by PKsteven / December 9, 2005 11:31 AM PST

I can only assume you have been out of the Linux circle for a while. Fedora core 4 is a fav of mine. I have never had a failed install but I know this can happen. However if you did, it may be due to bad downloads and then put on cd which seems to be a major cause of Linux set up failure. You have to do an MD5 check on your Linux files to see if they are ok. I will say this though, mine checked out but when it came to install, different story. I re -downloaded from different site and cds were fine then. Knoppix is also a Linux system that can be run from cd or dvd. Even though the dvd has far more, it is one heck of a download and wouldn't finish without errors so I chose cd which is fine to me. It is quite the program and suggest that if you have no luck with Linux installs, try Knoppix then. As said, it runs off of cd so there is not truly an install but functions as so. Very cool program. With Linux, if you can master the functions of it's openess, you have a powerful OS. Windows you do more hoping than doing but still has a big place in the world obviously.

Take care, Paul

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Wake Up ''pmchefalo'', Linux is Superior in This Regard!
by eye2fun / December 10, 2005 3:31 AM PST

Ok, you have an OS (Windows XP) basicly written in the Dark Ages Happy of the last century and one (Linux) that is constantly updated with drivers for new hardware almost at the time it comes on the market.

For instance, when I bought my first AMD 64 bit computer, they were the only ones with an out of beta Operating System (Microsoft was still struggling along in beta, until just recently), complete with the latest hardware drivers. At the same time, came support for Sata harddrives. Can Microsoft with their latest release even boast of driver support for my two Sata drives from two years ago? NO! I must rely on the manufacturer's disk.

Ethernet cards are still another sore spot with them and they have the manufacturers writing the drivers for them as well. If I buy the latest edition of Windows XP w/SP-2 and installed it on my now old (over two years old) AMD64 computer, you'ld think my sound card and ethernet card would be running at first boot. Not so, can't even get on the net without first pulling out the Manufacturer's install driver disk. The newest motherboards (Nvidia SLI, newest Satas, gigabit network cards)even get supported within a few months. Installing Windows is still a pain on new machines (especially with sata drives).

Download any number of Linux distros, and You don't even have to have them installed to be surfing on the net, while listening to music in a few minutes, with a Linux Live CD. Try that with Microcrud's OS!

You're giving the credit that belongs to the Products manufacturer to Microsoft. Most of the problems related to new hardware in Linux (2.4 to 2.6 kernel) are not the operating systems fault. But rather very bad support of Linux by a Microsoft Windows Monopolized pool of manufacturers. Microsoft is bullying and bufaloing their way through the world plain and simple. But you better believe they're worried and looking back at the future coming up fast on them, and it looks an awful lot like some guy wearing a Tux! Wink

Got legacy data? Maybe even on the old Fat formated harddrive? Now here's a surprise for you! Why not install one of the new distros that will install right on your NTFS or FAT formated harddrives!!! Happy

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Easy Little Patch That Can Fix This
by peterlc63 / December 9, 2005 12:17 AM PST

I encountered a similiar problem on my son's XP machine. He must have installed or installed something that overwrote or deleted a shared library.

I downloaded a patch called CDgone from this site:

Ran it, reboot my PC and in less than a couple of minutes, the CD and DVD drives were accessible again. The patch does alter the registry so all the normal cautionary steps should be followed. Use at your own risk.


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This Patch Does Work!
by eye2fun / December 9, 2005 10:27 PM PST

Yes this patch does what I outlined in my runner up post. And yes by all means back up your registry file. These are just high and low filter keys that when removed allow Windows to see your drives again.

People don't realize that every time they run a anti spyware program (or something like the ''Hyjackthis'' program), install a driver or program, they are editing the Registry. But it is alot simplier than most believe and for the most part if you mess it up it is just a matter of some reinstallation of drivers or the programs that are messed up in the first place. This would also be the time you would get that registry backup you saved and restore it by copying over the one you ruined.

Last but not least if you have a fast machine you can run a Windows XP repair from the install CD. Remember this is not going into the ''Repair Console'' but continueing on as if to do a full install. Also, if during a ''Repair'' setup (where you are booting from the CD), it does not see your ''Windows XP'' installation and ask you if you want to repair it. Then stop and re-evaluate whether you want to use this method. As you will more than likely end up with a fresh ''Windows Install'', which may not be what you want. In any case you will not harm your present installation if you choose to not delete your present ''Windows'' folder and instead just add a number to the folder name, like ''Windows7'' or ''Windows1''. It will then just have a duel boot menu come up after it is completed with your old and new installation choses in it. But this will be a brand new Windows so be ready with your Mobo CD and Drivers. All your programs will need to be re-installed as well.


Otherwise doing a ''Windows XP'' repair is usually only done after a ''Blue Screen of Death'' and if your computer says it can't find a ''Windows Installion''. Majority of the time our computers seem to recover quite well on their own from the famous ''Blue Screen of Death''. Just do what it says on that "Blue Screen" first, like booting into ''Safe Mode'', etc. Of cousre by all means you can try a ''Restore to Last working'' in the Safe Mode boot Menu. Safe Mode is accessed using ''F-8'' key just as you begin the actual Windows boot (immediatlely after your screen says it is checking for a bootable CD or removable disk.

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dvd-cd-rw problem

ok let's see your dvd-rw and cd-rw seemed to be working before.
first thing i would try is going into safe mode
and going into your device manager.

if you have windows xp first restart your computer
assoon as your computer shows the first screen
hit the pause break button to see what key you need to
key you need to get to safe mode. it should be ither
F2 or F10. select safe mode.

once in safe mode go to control panel then performance and maintrnance. then system.
then when the dialog box opens choose
device manager. look for your drives there.
then uninstall them both. the restart windows
in normal mode.
the os will reinstall them both automaticly.

befor you try that try updating the drivers in regular windows first.

it's done the same way as in safe mode.
but instead of uninstalling them right click the
drive and update the drivers.
if this works then you need not go into safe mode.

if nither works try reinstalling your burning software.

but i have to say everytime that happined to me i had to replace the drive.

but i never had it happin with two drives at once.

hope this helps you..... good luck

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12/09/05 Help! My system no longer recognizes my DVD or CD-R

Well i have just had this error 41 and it was because of having Itunes installed having removed this software the drives have come back

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Before you try the long winded version...

There may be a simple solution to your problem. Firstly, if windows doesn't let a devive start it may be because your bios battery has gone flat and the bios settings (although close to your current settings) may not be checking for the preasence of the cd burner. Secondly, on occasion the master/slave jumper on the back of the cd rom can become oxcidized. When this happens the bios won't recognise the preasence of the cd rom. I have come across this many times in my years of assembling computers and ussually try to resolve the problem by firstly removing the jumper on the back of the cd rom and replacing it with a new one ( which generally fixes the problem ) then checking the voltage of the bios battery, then resetting the options in bios. Note! if you don't feel comfortable poking around in your computer take the machine into your nearest computer store and have them look at it for you.
In my expirience drivers are rarely the problem....
P.S. Sorry if my gammar/spelling is poor, these feedback pages don't have a spell checker and I could'nt be bothered copying and pasting into word..

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My CD ROM Drive now works!

I had a similar problem and had difficulty in getting my CD ROM/RW to work untill I hit up the error code 41 solution on a Microsoft website which helped me to remove unwanted registries step by step. The Registy option given in your solution did work for me too.

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Thank you ..
by PKsteven / December 9, 2005 6:01 AM PST

Thanks for letting me know, good to hear.
Take care, Paul

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3 steps
by 7u5 / December 8, 2005 6:33 PM PST

1.shutdown and unplug CD-rom or DVD

2.restart and delete Drivers

3.shutdown then plug CD-rom or DVD and restart

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Where's My Drives

There is a very small file out there called "Where's My Drives". All you do is run it and all is done. I remember this file because I used it about 2 years ago. I don't remember where I got it from but I may still have it.


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Software Fix to restore drive
by dougvtn6 / December 9, 2005 12:20 AM PST
In reply to: Where's My Drives

I spent hours & hours about a year ago on same problem. All the suggestions are good ones--however, this little program did the trick for me.

Don't remember the source site but maybe you can google it:


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Reply to 12/09/05 My system no longer recognizes my DVD-CDRo
by mifind / December 8, 2005 7:03 PM PST

Dear Paul: I had the same problem as you did my computer is a compaq and I called them (technical support) we went thru all kinds of tests none of them worked the light on the drive just kept on and the drive would not do anything. So they sent me another one now it works fine. I hope that this helps.

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by PKsteven / December 9, 2005 6:04 AM PST

I truly appreciate the thought, however, I didn't have the problem, and perhaps you meant to direct it at the original question. I simply supplied the answer below it.
You take care, Paul

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My system no longer recognizes my DVD or CD-ROM drives.

I have had this happen on 95-ME machines. Haven't seen it on an XP box. What has happened is that the 32bit capability of the IDE controllers goes bad, and the OS goes to BIOS 16bit calls. Hard drives seem to be able to cope with this, but CDs and DVDs drop out. Check and make sure that BIOS see the drives on boot up. If thy are not there Windows wont see them either.
Another way to test this is to use a boot floppy and select "with cdrom support". If you can see them there, but windows doesn't then that may be the problem.
Try removing one drive and then the other, it may be only one drive has gone bad. You might also try and setting one as slave and use it on the same IDE channel as your HDD. Hope this is of some help.

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Smok in the CD drive?
by yenaro / December 8, 2005 8:49 PM PST

A regulary cleaning of the CD drive is also recommended, because dusty CD?s reduce the wheel?s speed, which includes software problems! Am I slowly right? Open your window! XP is a heavy cube!

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As usual

As usual, your chosen answer couldn't be more off base if it tried. Firstly, don't use the terms optical drive , cdrw, cdrom, ect in the same sentence as the word driver. This is not a driver problem. There is no driver. The closest thing to a driver than an optical drive has is firmware. Chances are one of the two drives has gone bad. Also...I would like to know why you are trying to use two burners on the same unit. Only one will work at any given time anyways.

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Why would you think that?
by jimpreston / December 9, 2005 12:42 AM PST
In reply to: As usual

I do not understand why you would question the use of 2 recordable drives in a computer and the statement that only one will work at a time. It is best to have two drives alibet one can be a CDROM if you want to copy a CD. I routinely do this to have copies in my car because of the abuse they take with sand and heat. Using two instances of cd burning software it should also be possible to burn two disks at the same time. You best have a computer with a lot of resources to do this though.


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I AGREE 100%
by PKsteven / December 9, 2005 6:29 AM PST
In reply to: As usual


Drivers allow hardware to communicate with software etc..The firmware is embedded on the hardware to instruct the hardware. Saying there is no drivers is like saying you speak English, want to talk to someone who speaks French but have no moderator. Your brain is firmware, you can speak and function, (perhaps,umm anyway) but you need the moderator (driver) to communicate. Some Windows drivers will work but they ARE there. Some require special drivers to communicate with the OS. I guess my Sony drivers for my cd\rw drive are bogus...I should call Sony and tell them what you said and what a farce having me install drivers was. lol.
I have two burners in one unit so what IS your point there? He has one cd one dvd. Makes sense to me unless you know how to stick a dvd in a cdrom drive and somehow get it to work. As USUAL, there is always someone who gets mad, without having the proper knowledge or courtesy to think something through, makes no good point and wastes space. Have a wonderful day !


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Regedit, cd-rom article
by jekoski / December 8, 2005 10:35 PM PST

The article tell this person to edit the registry, but it apears there is a misprint in the instructions.

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Well Done Paul !!

That was an awesome troubleshoot Paul. Not much left but a bad CD-RW. You must be a Tech if not you should be. I have MCS~ComputerServices in Crested Butte CO. Want a job. Sure would like to be able to talk to you once in a while. Sincerely, Mark C Stewart -

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Hi, thanks
by PKsteven / December 9, 2005 6:52 AM PST
In reply to: Well Done Paul !!

Hi, actually I am a Tech in the making.
I am finishing up in college this year and am 34. I never touched a pc save for back in 89 playing oregon trail. Got into it a few years back and kept rolling with it. I planned to open up a shop in the next couple of years. I don't pretend to know half as much as some, and will never think I know everything since then I will have stopped learning.
Oh, lol,the reason I left out a bad CDROM was due to the fact that how often do two different drives go bad at one time with the same error? Not very. That was my reasoning behind it.
I thank you for the wonderful comment and will keep you in mind. My wife has many health issues right now and moving is not an option currently. We do plan on it if\when things improve though.
Thank you once again and you take care.

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