Troubleshooting a newly installed CD drive

A newly installed CD drive that doesn't function is a rare but frustrating event. It's better to examine these common CD-drive installation problems and their quick fixes before you lose your cool over a lifeless CD drive.

Installing a CD drive is rather simple—usually. But even with seemingly straightforward installations, there’s always a chance that something will go wrong.

By far the most common problem with CD-ROM-drive installations is that Windows simply doesn’t recognize the drive’s existence. Fortunately, troubleshooting such problems is easier than you might think. You can look for certain symptoms and then use those symptoms to figure out what went wrong. Here are the troubleshooting techniques you need to use if a newly installed CD drive is causing problems.

Learn more
Check out these other CD drive articles from TechRepublic: "Teach your end users CD-ROM basics" "IDE CD drive installation guide" "The fix is in for a disappearing CD-ROM" "From the forums: Can't get sound from an audio CD"

Unrecognized drive
Check for power
When a CD-ROM drive fails to function, the first thing that you need to look at is whether the drive’s eject button works properly. If the eject button is working, then you can be certain that the drive is getting power. If the eject button doesn’t work, then you’ve likely forgotten to attach the power cable to the CD-ROM drive.

A daisy-chained drive
Once you’ve verified that the CD-ROM is receiving power, then the next thing that you need to check is whether the CD-ROM drive is functioning as a standalone device on its own IDE controller or if the drive is daisy-chained to another device. If the drive is daisy-chained to another device, such as a hard drive, Zip drive, or another CD-ROM drive, then try testing the other device that’s attached to the drive to see if it is functioning.

If the device that the new CD-ROM drive is daisy-chained to is functional, then the problem could be that the IDE cable simply isn’t firmly attached to the CD-ROM drive. Check your connection and try testing the CD-ROM drive again.

If neither device on the daisy chain is functional, then remove the CD-ROM drive and see if your other device begins to function properly. If it does, then the problem is almost always related to the way that the IDE cable is attached or to the way that jumpers are positioned.

Verify that the IDE cable is attached firmly to both devices and to the IDE controller. Remember that the red stripe on the IDE cable must line up with pin 1 on the IDE controller and must face the CD-ROM drive’s power supply.

If the cable appears to be attached firmly and in the correct position, then it’s time to double-check the jumpers on both devices. Remember that one device must be set to Master mode while the other device should be set to Slave mode. Since the CD-ROM drive is likely the newest device, you’ll probably want to set the CD-ROM drive to Slave mode since there’s a good chance that the other device is already set to Master mode. Remember that most CD-ROM drives come preset to Master mode, so it’s very important that you check the jumper settings.

A standalone drive
So what happens if the new CD-ROM drive is on a controller by itself? Again, verify that the IDE cable is attached correctly and that the jumper is set to Master mode. If all of this checks out, then try checking your system’s BIOS to make sure that the IDE port that the drive is using is enabled. On some (but not all) system boards, the secondary IDE port is disabled by default. Therefore, if you attach a device to it, you must enable the port before the system will recognize the new device. The method for accessing a system’s BIOS varies from computer to computer, but usually it involves pressing the [Delete] or [F1] key during the early phases of boot-up.

Is the basic CD-ROM drive dead?
With the significant decline in cost of CD-RW drives and the rise in read speeds, are CD-ROMs still necessary? Unless you plan on burning directly from the CD-ROM to the CD-RW, do you need both drives? Why not just install a single CD-RW? Post a comment and let us know what you think.


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