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MacBook CD/DVD drive won't read discs -- can it be fixed?

by cindyg909 / February 14, 2009 5:04 AM PST

First, my MacBook is a little more than a year old and is no longer covered under warranty, so I would like to try any possible fixes (like cleaning the drive) before having to buy a new drive.

Here's my problem: when I put a CD or DVD into the drive, it spins around and clicks a lot but never seems to really catch, and after about a minute or so of this, it ejects itself. It never shows up on my desktop, so the computer is unable to read anything from the CD or DVD. I know the problem is not the CD or DVD, because I've tried the same discs on other machines and they work fine.

This problem came up on me gradually. It started happening a few months ago, and maybe only 1 out of 10 or 20 discs would it do this. Then it became a third of the time, then half of the time, and now it's about 99% of the time. I was able to get one disc to work a few days ago, but when I ejected it and reinserted it, it didn't work the second time.

Any suggestions on something I could try (other than buying a new drive)?

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Try a lens cleaner but
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 14, 2009 6:08 AM PST

Why not extend that warranty today?

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Warranty extension
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / February 14, 2009 9:09 AM PST
In reply to: Try a lens cleaner but

Not sure that is going to happen as the original has expired. You can extend with AppleCare right up to the day of expiration, but not after.

An external would be the cheapest route.


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by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 14, 2009 10:13 AM PST
In reply to: Warranty extension

"I was overseas and couldn't get to it until now."

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(NT) Hmmm, OK
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / February 14, 2009 10:33 PM PST
In reply to: Hint:
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Yes, a lens cleaner..
by jboroman / February 15, 2009 6:17 AM PST

I agree with trying a lens cleaning disk. It's highly unfortunate for you if the drive has failed so soon; they should last for years. I guess the nature of laptops is that they are more prone to being around dirty environments; thus attracting more crud in the drive. If cleaning fails to fix the problem, you can replace the drive yourself. If you're averse to doing that, an external optical drive would be the cheapest way to go, but not very practical, hauling a laptop AND a drive around.

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MacBook Air
by Jkirk3279 / February 20, 2009 12:04 PM PST
In reply to: Yes, a lens cleaner..

Well, the MacBook Air doesn't have an optical drive, and it's set up to share drives with desktops.

I suppose you could look into that. As for the drive in question, replacing them isn't all that bad.

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MacBook CD/DVD drive won't read discs
by bhumika23 / December 7, 2009 4:56 PM PST

I have the exact same problem. I'd like to know what you did? Did you have to get it fixed? My CD's too get ejected and don't write correctly or don't write at all. This started happening just a few days after the computer ran its warranty period. I don't have Apple Care so I don't know what I must do.

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A replacement one of these
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / December 8, 2009 1:16 AM PST

can be had for $147 if you fit it yourself. (It's fairly easy)

Failing that, you could purchase an external enclosure and put a full size DVD burner in there. It would be cheaper but not as portable.


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Same problem here
by Serpico1011 / September 28, 2010 6:45 PM PDT

Hi- I've just started with the exact same problem on my I-mac... How did u eventually sort it out? Did a lens cleaner do the trick?

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Same issue
by S_Brumlik / August 25, 2011 11:44 AM PDT

I have the exact same problem on my MacBook...did the lens cleaner work, or do I have to get an external or something?

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Having changed many drives.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 25, 2011 11:51 AM PDT
In reply to: Same issue

It seems to be the common and right fix.

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Agree with Bob
by Jimmy Greystone / August 25, 2011 11:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Same issue

I agree with Bob. Any time I get something like this coming across my workbench, I just replace the drive. Not sure why it seems to be such a mystery to people that optical drives fail, and fail often, when they do fail so often. You'd think more people would have experienced it by now.

Of course the MacBook uses a slot loading slimline drive, and while it's not overly difficult to change out, there are some tools required the average person wouldn't likely have. There's also a small trick to removing the airport card mount without breaking the little grounding tab that connects to the optical drive. There's a different trick for the older non-unibody MacBooks, though replacing those drives is considerably more work.

So if you can actually source a replacement MacBook optical drive, just take your time taking the old one out and putting the new one in.

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by web-solutions-company / September 5, 2011 12:28 AM PDT

Try with this ...

1. Open Disk Utilites
2. Click on your Hard drive partition "Macintosh (or what ever you renamed yours too)"
3. Click on the *Repoir Disk Permissions* button

issue was all related to my user preferences, and this reset the
preference. Like magic my drive started working again. Hope this helps
the rest of you!

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web-solutions-company Try with this ...
by JamieV33 / January 1, 2012 12:51 PM PST
In reply to: ...

This totally worked. Thanks so much that was really irritating. I didn't even think about going into the disk utilities, and repairing the disk from there. Again, thanks helped a bunch

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by cafeolei / February 19, 2012 5:57 AM PST
In reply to: ...

thanks soo much! i did lens cleaning and didn't work . thanks you saved me money.

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Weird fix, but I just got mine working!
by psychonaut91 / September 7, 2011 6:25 PM PDT

What I did to fix mine was I went to system preferences, then to language and text. In there on the left I dragged a random language on the list above English, and then after that I dragged English back to the top again and restarted the computer. After that my disk drive started working again!
Hope that helps

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As you see more drives.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 8, 2011 1:38 AM PDT

You'll find some that spring back to life. They usually sputter and die later but we always try the lens cleaner and remove/reinstall the drive just in case it's a lens/connection issue.

But if you are at a service counter you never warrant the work if you don't replace the drive. You can't tell if the drive will continue to live on for long.

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(NT) Annual fix of superdrive required?
by macktn / November 7, 2011 10:40 PM PST
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It's not every year
by Jimmy Greystone / November 8, 2011 10:16 AM PST

It's not every year, and if you look around, you'll see optical drive failures are common across the entire industry. Not sure why this is always such shocking news to people, but whatever. Optical drives fail, and fail often. Doesn't matter if they're the slot loading kind Apple prefers or tray loading like most everyone else uses, they fail. Usually based on how much they're used, and the condition of the media you put in them. You put a bunch of really nasty looking discs inside the thing, what would you expect but that the focusing lens for the laser gets coated with crap? Then again, sometimes drives can just up and die.

It can also make a difference on where you go to get your system repaired. Some places, and if they're an AASP they're not supposed to (and will get into some deep **** with Apple if caught), will buy parts off of dumpster diving vultures like MPD and Blue Raven. These companies buy up excess inventory from repair shops, and will buy up uneconomical to repair units from retailers like Fry's and Best Buy, then break them down for their component parts. Most of the time the parts are already on their last legs, and fail pretty quickly, but people buy them because they might be a few bucks cheaper than getting one from Apple. It gets even better, in that a lot of times a particular part has to be sent back DOA multiple times before these companies "retire" it. There's also frequent issues in getting them to send the correct part from what I've seen.

I know in the past, where I work, they used these companies before, and a good chunk of my job now revolves around cleaning up that mess. Pulling and replacing those parts as I find them. We have other arrangements with Blue Raven that don't involve Apple, and let's just say that they are not exactly what you'd call a well run company. Shame I'm bound by some confidentiality agreements, because they are some really good stories.

Anyway, I digress. Point is, optical drives fail, and fail often. Laptops are always going to be more expensive to fix because the hardware is much more custom made. I'd bet if you take a look around, replacing the optical drive in a Dell or HP laptop isn't all that much different in cost from Apple.

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