Persnickety Second DVD Drive


I have a problem with my second DVD drive: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. My system is a home-built Biostar TA790GXB A2+ motherboard with an AMD Athlon II X2 250 running at 3GHz, a GeForce GTS 250 videocard, 8GB of RAM, two 500GB Hitachi hard drives, and Windows 7 32-bit, with all the required updates installed. There is also an LG CH08LS10 SATA Blu-ray ray drive (assigned drive F by Windows).

Now to the problem: drive E. Sometimes it runs, sometimes it doesn’t, and there is no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes it starts fine, recognizing DVDs or CDs and burning DVDs and CDs as necessary, and runs well all day. Sometimes it starts and won’t even recognize any CD or DVD (to read or to burn) I put in it—and won’t all day.

Originally, I had installed an LG SATA DVD drive. When it acted up as described above, I replaced it with a BenQ DW 1640 from my old computer. It’s an IDE drive. Same thing happened. No problem with the Blu-ray drive.

So, there you have it. Two different drives, using different controllers on the motherboard but malfunctioning the same way. Any ideas? Does Win7 think people shouldn’t have more than one, or more than one type of, burner? Is there some jumper I should be moving or software setting I’m missing? Did I just find a Win7 bug?

—Rick Thompson

The Doctor is stumped as well, Rick. We don’t know of Windows 7 having any problems supporting multiple optical drives. You’ve clearly done all the obvious troubleshooting by trying different drives, cables, and controllers, so faulty hardware doesn’t seem to be the issue. You didn’t mention whether you’re running any drive-cloning or virtualization software, but if you are, we’d recommend you uninstall it. Otherwise, you might try updating your BIOS, or as a last resort, reinstalling the OS to see if that remedies the problem.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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