A malfunctioning CD-ROM drive can be a huge headache. When the drive is inaccessible, you can’t install software, you can’t load files, and you can’t listen to your most recently burned tunes. Sometimes, there is just something physically wrong with the drive, as described in “Don’t dismiss mechanical problems when troubleshooting CD-ROM drives.” Other times, the root of the problem is a bad driver. But determining which problem you are dealing with takes a little time, as TechRepublic member Dharwell found out after writing in to TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A.

An inaccessible drive, an incorrect function
Dharwell has a problem with an external USB CD-ROM drive running on a Windows 2000 Professional system. Whenever Dharwell attempts to use the drive, the “E:\ is not accessible—incorrect function” error message appears. Dharwell wrote, “There has never been a USB device of any kind attached to this box, and the standard registry fixes have not had any effect.”

Could the CDs be write-protected?
Deja_Vu pointed out that trying to load a write-protected CD might be causing such a problem. Deja_Vu suggested trying to load other CDs that aren’t write-protected. Unfortunately, this quick fix doesn’t solve Dharwell’s problem, since the error occurs with all CDs—even those that aren’t write-protected.

Check for hardware conflicts and bad drivers
Maxwell_t_edison asked whether an Iomega Zip drive is attached to this computer via the parallel port. He points out that such an error message can occur on Windows XP systems when running external Zip drives. Also, this member wrote, “Is this CD Drive an HP CD-Writer?” He asserted that if it is, an updated Windows 2000 driver is needed. This driver can be downloaded from the Hewlett-Packard support Web site.

But this advice doesn’t help Dharwell, who quickly responded, “This PC has never had any type of CD burner or any other external storage device installed on it.”

Der CD-ROM ist kaput?
I experienced a similar problem on a laptop of mine. It turned out to be a physical problem—a protruding sticker that was preventing the disc from spinning properly. Dharwell should certainly check to see if the problem isn’t just a mechanical one.

Finally, Maxwell_t_edison suggested that the CD-ROM drive might have just failed. To test this hypothesis, simply remove the drive from the computer and install it on another system. By doing this, Dharwell can determine if the drive is physically bad or not.

If a bad drive isn’t to blame, then a software conflict between Windows 2000 Professional and the CD-ROM drive could exist. Also, there could be a problem with the USB connection, possibly a bad cable or an improper setting in Windows. If Dharwell hasn’t done so already, I would say that it is time to test the connection. Remove the device from Windows, reboot, and then reinstall it.

Got a fix?

Do you have a solution to this CD-ROM dilemma? Post a comment to this article and share your thoughts or visit TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A section.