A Strange DVD RW Problem

My home workstation has a Plextor PX-708A DVD-RW drive, and it has been working perfectly until quite recently. The first time I noticed the problem was last month when I was trying to burn a CD. When I inserted a blank CD into the drive, the light on the drive kept flashing and I could some "click" sound coming from the drive, accompanied by sound of spindling up and down. It seemed like that the drive had some problem recognizing the disk. And when I opened up Explorer, it seemed as though nothing had been detected.

I was not discouraged at first. Over the years, I had seen this problem quite common, mainly due to the fact that I have the DAEMON tool (a virtual CD tool) installed and also use VMWare on the machine as well. Sometimes, they would interfere with my DVD drive and similar situations could occur.

But after I rebooted the machine for a few times and using different Operating Systems, I realized that the problem was more serious than what I had thought, as the DVD drive refused to recognize any CD-ROMs (blank or not) under any operating systems. And I found this error message logged within the event viewer under System:

The driver detected a controller error on \Device\CdRom0.

So, it seemed that my DVD ROM was failing. But the strange thing is that I could read from and write to DVD’s with no problem at all! A few resources on the Internet suggested that I clean the read/write head of the DVD RW drive as there might be two independent lenses set inside: one is for CD the other one is for DVD. It might be that the CD laser lens was dirty.

I decided to open up the DVD drive for a look. And here are the pictures of the drive:

 It seemed to me that there was only one laser assembly inside (see picture above), and as far as I could tell, it was pretty clean.

Other resources suggested that I try to swap the IDE cables and swap the drive to a diffferent IDE channel. I tried both methods many times and apparently the problem persisted. So my DVD RW drive could only operate on DVD disks now.

This seems to be a really strange problem, as for a highly integrated electronic device, I would expect that if it breaks it would not be able to read or burn anything, not in this half & half mode.

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