General discussion

iMac 20 inch super drive quit

Had been making some strange noises when not in use. Put in blank cd but the drive was not recognized nor can I remove the cd. OS 10.6.4 snow leopard. Anyone had similar experiences with this problem? Drive might have died. Is this a common problem with the superdrive? Thanks.

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It's a common problem

It's a common problem with optical drives in general, and the last 20" model Apple made was in Early 2009, that puts it at a minimum of about a year old, assuming you bought it close to the time to Late 2009 models came out, which is right about on schedule for when optical drives start failing.

The good news is, this is a pretty easy thing to fix, and if you're daring enough, could probably even do on your own. The bad news is that the iMacs use laptop style slot loading drives which aren't exactly cheap. If you buy just the drive from Apple, expect to pay around $200 for it. So, unless you really need that disc out of the drive, probably best to just sacrifice it to the cause and get an external DVD burner. I've seen some for as little as $50, so you could go through 4 of these for about what it would cost to get a single internal replacement.

Of course if you bought the AppleCare extended warranty, and it's still valid, take your system in to get an AASP or Apple store to fix it. They should be able to disassemble the drive and extract your disc as well.

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Superdrive problem

Thanks, Jimmy. I was able to get the disc out. Rooted around on the Apple site where I found something about resetting the RSC (??). Didn't do that but took the action requested before the need to reset. As I recall it required putting the iMac to sleep. Then waking it up. Then restarting, then shutting down (all of this from the black apple drop-down commands). While it was waking up I heard a rumble from the disc drive, hit the eject key and out came the disc. Computer booted up fine this a.m. Is there a way to tell if the disk drive is dying or dead without inserting a disk? Like your idea of getting an external DVD burner, thanks for that. Bought my iMac in Jan. 2008, so it's been in use for 3 years now.

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Nope, and believe me, as a hardware tech I'd love for there to be some kind of optical drive diagnostic, but there just aren't any. You just have to kind of rule out pretty much all other possibilities, leaving you with just the one of it being broken.

At least for the time being, I wouldn't recommend putting any discs in the drive that you can't afford to lose. If it seems to be accepting and ejecting discs properly for a month or so, then you can reconsider if you like. The unfortunate side effect of slot loading drives like Apple uses, is that you can't force eject them with a paperclip like tray loading drives.

In any case, an external USB burner would probably be your best bet for discs that you really don't want to have eaten by your system's internal drive.

If it does die, it's probably not worth repairing on a system that old. Odds are you'll be upgrading it at some point in the nearish future.

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Not likely

Best upgrade for me will be the external burner. Two external USB back-up drives still working fine. I've read that Apple is considering dumping the optical drives in favor of loading docs/music/images into the cloud. But I think that will be some time coming considering the slowness of DSL. Probably a lot better with cable but where I live there's no competition, just Comcast. Thanks.

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Superdrived won't die

Well, suddenly the drive has been "hunting," for lack of a more precise word. It's making noises as though it wants a disc in it (but I know better that to do that) or it thinks there's one in there. It just keeps on with the grinding. Any way to stop that without destroying the mac?

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No, the only way to stop that would be to pull the system apart and disconnect the drive. Once you get the glass off it's not overly difficult, it's just getting the glass off that can be kind of intimidating to a lot of people.

And I doubt the whole cloud idea will ever really take off. I do expect optical drives will quickly be replaced by smaller, faster, and cheaper flash based systems. Instead of a giant bulky DVD, you have something like the memory card that you put into a digital camera. They have already gone past 32GB on MicroSD cards, which are smaller than your average fingernail. I expect we'll be seeing more of things like that. The whole cloud idea is just a new spin on the mainframe of yesteryear, and in 5-10 years we'll have swung back more to the idea of stand alone computers. Just like fashion, computers tend to have about a 20 year "cycle" where what was old is new again.

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Software Issue, I think

Wish I could explain this. But the grinding has stopped completely. I attached a camera to my usb port. Then my photo software opened. About that time a box appeared over everything telling me in effect to go to the finder where something was left open. I don't recall the wording. When I went to the finder I saw a chrome-looking drive, something like the standard Macintosh hard drive on the desk top. I dragged that to waste basket and voila, the noise stopped and, though I have yet to use the superdrive, I think it might be fine. I don't know why that extra drive icon showed up or what happened to make it do so. So I hope this my final report on this. I now think it was a software problem and that the superdrive is mechanically sound. Hope this is helpful for someone else who has similar problems from the superdrive area.

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