My son's laptop has been a great purchase from Dell but recently it won't play DVDs. It reads CD-rom disks, plays audio CDs, but when he puts in a DVD it chugs away for a bit, keeps restarting, and says there is no disk in the drive. I've tried the troubleshooting software, but it says it can't find a problem. Do I need to replace the drive?
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You probably will need to replace the optical drive (CD/DVD drive) in your laptop. Go to Google and search for "Dell Inspirion 6000 CD/DVD drive" to find a replacement. To be sure it's the CD/DVD drive that's defective and not your operating system software, you could also try to boot from a boot-able DVD disk.
The reason behind that is because the CD ROM cannot read DVDs. If you want to play or install DVD based programs you need to replace your CD ROM with a DVD-ROM or DVD-RW. You also can purchase an external DVD ROM if you dont want take that CD ROM from its place.
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The Cd player my be dirty, you can get disks you put in there to clean them. Also sometimes the players are just picky and don't like certain CD's..... I'll build brand new PC's that only read some CD right from the start.
Make sure your disks are clean to, with no fingerprints.
Sounds like you need a DVD decoding software, ie... winvid, interdvd, and powerdvd. Windows media player will play some DVD's, but many DVD's, especially newer ones, need an additional decoder in order to work. You will be able to find the software at filehippo.com, download.com, or IBM's support site. Keep in mind that burning software, ie... nero, roxio, and dvd shrink, have decoders in order to burn the DVD, so they will work as a decoder in conjunction with your media player.