One of my years old and very faithful DVD writers suddenly stopped working yesterday. It won’t recognize the DVD disks but would read the CD media without any problems. This is a known problem related to the laser diode that usually occurs when the DVD writers become old. The laser diodes inside the DVD writer become old and do not work as they used to. You can fix this problem by adjusting the small potentiometers (or pots in short) near the laser lens assembly. Most DVD writers have two such pots that anyone can adjust for calibrating the lens power. Here is how:
- If your optical disk drive still has warranty left, then make use of it. Do not open the disk drive if you can get it fixed for free. Opening the disk will tear up the warranty label and voids your device’s warranty.
- Eject the DVD drive tray and keep it this way. Then shutdown your computer. Open your computer cabinet, disconnect the data and power cables going to your optical drive and unscrew it from the cabinet.
- Clean all the dust using a plain cloth. Use a Phillips cross-head screwdriver to remove the four screws from the drive. This results in breaking the warranty seal.
- After you remove the metallic cover (after removing the four screws), you will see the main circuit board and all the wiring. Do not touch anything or try to blow the dust away.
- Use the screw driver bit head to push the small plastic holding the front panel to the metal cover. You have to do this on both the sides. This will free up the metallic outer cover holding the rest of the electronics circuitry and mechanical parts.
- Flip over to the other side after removing the metallic cover. You will see the lens assembly and the shiny steel rod on which it slides back and forth when reading or writing a disk. Do not forcibly try to make it slide.
- You would be easily able to find the two pots near the lens assembly. One of these is for reading/writing the CD media and other is for the DVD media. Usually the DVD pot is on the right-side and CD pot is on the left side, if the lens is kept above the two pots. Use a Philips screwdriver to turn the pots counter-clockwise in very small amounts until the DVD writer starts recognizing the disks. In general, you can try turning the pots 30 degrees counter-clockwise. Do not touch the pot that does not require any adjustments, for example, if the drive is reading CD’s without any problems then don’t touch the CD pot.
- Assemble everything back as it was carefully. Install it back in your computer and check if the disk is taking a little smaller time to read disks now. You will notice an improvement specially when reading DVD disks.
Conclusion: When a DVD writer is not recognizing the DVD or CD disks or is taking too much time reading a perfectly good disk, then it could be due to the laser diode not getting enough power. You can adjust the pots inside the DVD writer to make it work again.