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Drive Cannot Read Discs (Windows Vista)

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This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista.
An optical disc, commonly called a CD or DVD or Blu-ray drive, uses light to read data from a rapidly spinning optical disc. Anything that prevents that light from reaching the data encoded on the disc can cause problems in reading and displaying the information. Optical drives are designed to read specific types of discs and may not be able to read other discs. For instance, a CD drive designed for storing data or music cannot play a Blu-ray or HD (high definition) movie.
Discs, particularly DVDs for movies, may be encoded with information about unique text characters or display standards for different regions around the world and may not work in your optical drive. Display problems may also occur if the software drivers on a computer become corrupted or out of date.
NOTE:HP recommends using discs from manufacturers that are considered high quality. Some low quality discs might not work properly in HP notebooks. HP-branded media is available from HP.com.
Troubleshooting playback problems involves isolating the root cause to determine if the problem has to do with the disc drive, or the disc itself, or the software that controls the drive. If your CD or DVD disc will not play, be sure that you are using the correct drive for the media. For example, if you are attempting to play a Blu-ray disc, be sure that you are attempting to play it in a Blu-ray drive and are not inadvertently using a CD or DVD drive.
If the issue persists after verifying that the disc drive and type of media are compatible, you should determine if there is an issue with the disc drive or if you simply have a faulty disc.
Try the following preliminary steps to resolve the issue:
  • Ensure that the disc is correctly inserted into the drive.
  • Clean the CD with filtered water and a lint-free cloth. Wipe from the center of the disc to the outer edge.
  • Check for scratches on the disc. If you find scratches, treat the CD with a CD/DVD repair kit, available at many electronics stores.
  • Close all other programs, including logging off the internet, and then try to play the disc again.
    1. Click Start, enter Power Options into the search field, and then select Power Options from the list.
    2. Select Change when the computer sleeps in the left pane of the Power Options window.
    3. From the drop down menu beside Put the computer to sleep, select a time that is longer than the CD playback time, or select Never.
  • Reinstall the original drivers or check for:
    1. Firmware updates for the optical drive
    2. The audio driver
    The firmware updates and the audio driver are located in the Sound, video and game controllers category in Device Manager. See Uninstall and reinstall drivers for more information.
If these general troubleshooting tips did not solve your problem, or if your problem involves an issue other than a disc not playing, use the information in one or more of the other sections to resolve the problem.
If the notebook PC goes into hibernation mode while you are using Windows Media Center in full-screen mode to view a DVD or live TV, you may notice that the computer does not respond properly on resuming from hibernation mode. While the mouse pointer may move around the screen, the keyboard may not respond or the programs may fail to function. This situation only occurs on a few notebook models.
For best results when playing a DVD, connect the notebook to the AC adaptor. If performance improves after connecting to AC power, the battery could be low. Check to be sure that the battery is fully charged and try again. If the battery is not low, another battery problem may be causing the issue.
To recover from the failure of the notebook to respond while viewing a DVD or live TV and return to Windows Media Center, press the ctrl + alt + del keys simultaneously, and then press the esc key.
To prevent this issue from occurring again in the future, follow the steps below.
  1. Click Start, enter power in the search field and then select Power Optionsfrom the list.
  2. Click Change plan settings.
  3. Click Change advanced power settings to open the Power Options window and edit the Advanced settings.
  4. Expand the Multimedia settings list.
  5. In the On battery dropbox, select Prevent idling to sleep.
  6. Click OK, and then close any open dialog boxes.
Figure 1: Prevent Idling
Changing the power options ensures that the computer properly awakens from hibernation.

DVD movie disc skips or erratic play

If your movie plays slowly, skips, glitches, or freezes periodically, you should try cleaning your disc first as described in Troubleshoot playback problems . This problem may also be caused by a drain on system resources or improper settings. Use the information in one or more of the other sections to resolve the problem.
Some software, such as antivirus updates, may be set to access the internet or network at regular intervals. If you play a movie and such a program accesses the internet, it can cause a drain on system resources that will disrupt the movie. Be sure to disconnect from the internet before playing a movie. If the notebook is not connected to the internet, and movies still skip, continue to another method.
Windows requires more memory and processing power to display images on large desktop size monitors with lots of colors. When more resources are allocated to the color properties, the fewer resources there are to support other playback functions. Since human eyes cannot easily tell the difference between colors beyond the 16-bit range, you should not notice any loss of color while watching your movie after lowering your color properties to 16-bit color by following the steps below:
  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop, but not on an icon, and select Personalize.
  2. The Personalization window appears. Select Display Settings.
  3. Set Colors to Medium (16 bit), if it is not already set.
If setting the color depth to 16 did not help, continue to another method.
Turn off printers, multifunction printer/scanners (all-in-ones), scanners, cameras, and portable handheld devices. Because Windows continually searches for plug-and-play devices, disconnecting them helps the system free up valuable system resources and results in better movie performance. If this does not help, continue to another method.
Sometimes you are using more of your notebook's system resources (memory, disc space, and CPU processing power) than you realize, which causes your computer to slow down. Increasing resources by reducing the demands from other programs makes the DVD software (and other software) play better.
You can scan for and remove any viruses, delete temporary files, and close programs that you are not using to improve the performance and require less system resources. Also consider backing up any files that you do not need on a periodic basis, such as files that you are keeping just for archive purposes, to an external hard drive and deleting those files from your notebook hard drive.
For more detailed information about how to increase system resources, see HP Notebook PCs - Improving the Performance of Your Notebook PC .
All DVDs have regional codes embedded in the disk data. These codes prevent DVD movies from being played outside the region of the world in which they are sold. There are eight world-wide regions for DVDs and DVD encoding.
If a DVD is made for a specific region, it is possible for a DVD region code error to occur. Microsoft offers manufacturers the option to set a default region encoding for CD and DVD-ROM drives before the units are shipped.
World-wide regions for DVDs and DVD encoding
Region 1USA, Canada
Region 2Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Greenland
Region 3S. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Parts of South East Asia
Region 4Australia, New Zealand, Latin America (including Mexico)
Region 5Eastern Europe, Russia, India, Africa
Region 6China
Region 7Reserved for Unspecified Special Use
Region 8Reserved for Cruise Ships, Airlines, etc...
Region 0 or REGION ALLDiscs are un-encoded and can be played Worldwide, however, PAL discs must be played in a PAL-compatible unit and NTSC discs must be played in an NTSC-compatible unit.
If a region code error occurs, the DVD being played is intended for a different region. You can change the region code to play the DVD, however the region code can only be changed a limited number of times (usually no more than four or five) before the region code becomes permanent. When the region code becomes permanent, the last change to the region code is the code that becomes permanent and is hard-coded onto the DVD drive.
NOTE:The HP warranty does not cover the expense of correcting this situation. Refer to the help for the DVD player software for details about setting region codes.
A decoder is software that tells Windows how to put the movie image back together from the DVD files. A "DVD decoder not found" error occurs when the decoder is not installed, or is not properly registered with Windows.
DVD decoders are not free and are not legally available for free download from the internet. The only way to legally fix this error is to restore the DVD player software using the recovery process (if the computer came with DVD player software) or to purchase new DVD player software.
If a DVD stops playing in the middle of a movie that has otherwise been playing correctly, the DVD movie might have accidentally been paused. Press the Play button to resume the movie.
It is also possible that the DVD may be double-sided. Open the DVD tray, and read the text near the center hole of the disk. If it says Side A, flip the disk over, close the tray, and press the Play button to continue playing the movie.
If the problem persists, try playing the DVD movie in another DVD drive to isolate the problem and to determine if the problem is with the DVD drive or with the DVD media.
If both the notebook display and an external display are active, press fn+f4 to switch to one display. When using both displays, the DVD image will not appear on any display set up as secondary. Follow the steps below to configure the monitor settings:
  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop, but not on an icon, and select Personalize, and then click Display Settings. You may set which display is the primary and which is the secondary in this window.
  2. When using an external display, be sure that the connector (e.g., s-video) is properly connected.
    • Use the correct type of cable (e.g., s-video, HDMI), and try a different type of connection, if available, to test the display.
    • Verify that both ends of the cable are properly connected.
  3. Verify the display settings ( e.g., resolution, colors, refresh rate) of both the computer and the external display are compatible and are set properly.
For information about specific display errors, search hp.com and microsoft.com by entering the error into the search field on the respective web sites.
As a newer technology, the standards for both Blu-ray players and discs are revised periodically. Use the latest version of the drivers for the optical drives. Even with updated drivers, some older optical drives may not be physically capable of playing newer Blu-ray movies.
If there are screen flicker problems when playing a Blu-ray disc on an external display, verify the display settings ( e.g., resolution, colors, refresh rate) of both the computer and the external display are set properly. When connecting to a plasma TV, be sure that the Blu-ray player is set to 1080i rather than 1080p. Read the manufacturer's documentation for the exact specifications.
Sometimes a device driver may become corrupt even during normal use. Follow the steps below to uninstall and reinstall your device's drivers:
  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, and select Properties.
  2. In the System pane, click the Device Manager link. If prompted, allow the computer to access the Device Manager.
  3. In Device Manager, double-click an entry to expand the listing of drivers you wish to uninstall and reinstall (for example, Modems, DVD/CD-ROMs, and so on).
  4. Highlight each listed driver one at a time and press the Delete key. When prompted, confirm that you wish to delete these drivers.
  5. In the Device Manager pane, click the Scan for hardware changes icon (near the top). Windows will now scan for hardware and install default drivers for anything that requires drivers at this time.
  6. Verify under the heading for the type of device that your drivers are listed once again.
  7. Once the device drivers have been reinstalled and is listed again, try running your program again.
NOTE:Some devices may require your computer to restart. Windows will notify you that restarting is necessary. Save all open files and allow the computer to restart.
Sometimes the default drivers provided with Windows will not be up-to-date. If uninstalling and reinstalling the default drivers does not correct the problem, you may need to update your drivers. Download and install the latest drivers by going to the HP Drivers and Downloads Web page or using the Microsoft Windows Update feature.
Use the following advanced troubleshooting methods if the CD or DVD is still not reading properly.
Use the following steps to confirm that the drive can read discs from a command prompt.
  1. Turn on the computer, and press the F8 key repeatedly at the logo screen until an Advanced Boot Options screen appears.
  2. Select Safe Mode using the up and down arrows on the keyboard, and then press the Enter key.
  3. When the computer boots into Safe Mode, click Start, type CMD in the search field and press enter to open a command window.
  4. Type diskpart at the command prompt, then press Enter.
  5. Insert a data or movie disc that contains files into the optical disc drive. Do not use a music CD. Use the type of disc (CD or DVD) that is not being recognized in the drive.
  6. Wait about 20 seconds for the disc to achieve full spin velocity.
  7. Type list volume at the command prompt and press Enter.
  8. Using the table that is displayed, look at the column labeled Type and find the DVD-ROM (or CD-ROM), and then locate the drive letter in the Ltr column, corresponding to the drive.
    If no CD/DVD drive exists in the Type column, go to Reseating the CD/DVD Drive .
  9. Now that you have identified the drive letter for the optical drive, type Exit and press the Enter key to end the DISKPART command but leave the command prompt window open.
    Do not click the in the upper right hand corner to close the window.
  10. Type the drive letter for the drive followed by a colon (:) and then press Enter key. In this example D:.
    If a device is not ready error message displays, the disc or the drive may be bad, or the drive door is not closed properly. You may wish to test the drive by inserting a few other discs of the same type to make sure the problem is not with the disc. If other discs of the same type cannot be read, contact HP Customer Care.
  11. Assuming there is no error message, type the directory command DIR and then press Enter key to display a list of files and folders on the screen.
    • If a list of file names and folders is shown on the screen, the disc is recognized by the drive. The issue is not likely related to the drive or the disc. It is probably related to the software configuration in Windows. Continue troubleshooting by reinstalling the device driver in Device Manager.
    • If the message "device is not ready" is shown or the screen fails to update after 30 seconds, the disc or the drive may be bad. You may wish to test the drive by inserting a few other discs of the same type to make sure the problem is not with the disc. If other discs of the same type cannot be read, contact HP Customer Care.
  12. When finished displaying the list of files on the optical disc, type Exit and press the Enter key to close the command prompt window.
The locations of the optical disc drives and the screws that secures it in place, vary with the different PC models. For your model, open Help and Support and select User Guides and view the hardware tour document.
To remove and reseat the CD/DVD drive, perform the following:
  1. Turn off the PC, disconnect the AC power adapter, and remove the battery.
  2. Remove the small Phillips-head screw that secures the optical drive to the computer.
  3. Insert a thin tool, such as a paper clip, into the media tray release hole, and press the tool to release the optical drive media tray from the optical drive.
  4. Hold the sides of the media tray to slide the optical drive out of the computer.
Reverse the above procedure to reseat the optical drive firmly in the PC. After reseating the drive, go back and repeat the steps for Reading a disc from a command prompt . Should the drive fail detection by the command prompt still contact HP Customer Care.

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