Keep SuperDrive Clean

We just got some handy reminders from past president, current treasurer, David Passell. He relates some problems and problem-solving techniques that PMUG members need to know.

"Last fall after a lot of work that I was doing burning DVDs of Photos and Movies for a friend, I decided to listen to some music. When I inserted the CD it would not mount. Attempts to mount it with Disk Utility only showed it was there. It had all sorts of other weird information displayed when I clicked on the disk icon. I finally was able to eject it. The usual methods did not work.

"I had other problems when I tried to burn a CD with some photos: No success.

"I inquired to various sources, and the general suggestion was that the SuperDrive in my Mini was out of alignment or defective. There are two separate lasers for DVD and CD, I'm told, and one can fail while the other still works. Even the consultant at Argosy West said I probably would have to replace the drive under warranty.

"Not wanting to separate myself from my computer for a week or so, and noting the amount of dust which floats around the room (one of the problems of having pets around), I thought I would try to clean it. I heard a disaster story about trying to blow out the drive with compressed air (destroyed the drive) so I went to Staples and purchased for $10.00 a CD/DVD Drive Cleaner disk. This is a CD with a big arrow printed on the label side and a couple of little brushes on the shiny side.

"Per the instructions on the package I inserted the disk into the drive arrow forward and immediately I got the Audio CD Icon which was a good sign. There was also a voice message (actually available in several languages). Continuing on, some of the instructions did not exactly work as expected. This may be because like so many products they were PC/Windows oriented. In any case there were a lot of whirring and disk activities which within a minute or so stopped.

"I was able to eject the disk in a normal fashion; that is drag to Trash, use CMD-E, or the little arrow on the upper side of the top menu bar.

"Then I inserted my music CD. It played normally. This was on October 4, 2008. The drive has worked fine for both CDs and DVDs until a week ago when I noticed that CDs would not mount. I got out the Cleaning disk and performed the ritual again on January 13, 2009. The CDs mounted and played normally again.

"Conclusion is that if you start having problems with your SuperDrive, especially if it is in the close confines of a Mini get a Cleaner Disk and give it a try before you start looking for a replacement. The Mini has only ventilating openings at the back and its almost silent fan probably draws in a lot of dust.

"Further note: If you do a lot of DVD or CD work, you might consider purchasing an External drive for $100.00 or so. By the way, I would avoid those "LIghtScribe drives." You pay a premium, and when you read all the fine print you will discover that it takes 20 minutes or so to write the image. I prefer the crude old soft-tip pen and reserve my art for an insert. NEVER use a stick-on label. If it has any hanging edges it may jam in the drive. Then you do have problems."

So, there you have it, PMUG members. Thanks to David for taking the time to chronicle his computer adventures.