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Disposable Optical Drives?

Last response: in Storage
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January 9, 2010 6:25:21 PM

What is with the quality and longevity of optical drives? I have worked with mostly Lite-On (Plextor) DVD-writers and recorders, but also Sony/NEC. My Lite-On DVD writers worked well for up to 16 months then are no longer recognizable. Same problem with Lite-On set top recorders. By doing research on multiple sites, I found the same complaint for LG, Samsung drives. Doesn't anyone make quality drives anymore (cost does not equal better quality)?

Here's what I typically experience. After successfully using Lite-On DVD/CD write drives for months, they suddenly start to not recognize blank disks (both high end and cheap) on occasion. Later the tray drawer won't respond to opening commands or button (occasionally). Eventually, the drives aren't recognized in the BIOS, then recognized but drop out of Windows, then permanently not recognized in BIOS or Windows. Nothing else changes in hardware or software. I run these drives on the PATA/IDE chain, but research shows other users see the same issue on the SATA controller. The very same issues occurred on my Lite-On DVD recorder for the TV after 12 months. In on-line forums, users complain of the same issue for LG, Samsung and Plextor drives so it isn't manufacturer specific. My two Sony DVD-RW's showed the same problems. The drives just fail in any number of systems running all versions of WinXP, VISTA regardless of over-use or under-use.

It appears that optical storage drives have achieved a point where read/write speeds are splitting hairs with minimal gains, yet performance of the drives is no different in the $20 drive or the $300 drive. All seem to have a disposable lifespan of about 12 to 20 months (or less). I read (in this forum) about the advice of which drives a newcomer should purchase. Amusingly, the preference is only related to personal taste and not price or quality. Does anyone else experience the conditions of drive failure (low MTBF) for opticals? Are we reduced to replacing optical storage drives every 3 Web years on average? OR has someone discovered the cause of these drives spontaneously degrading?
a b G Storage
January 9, 2010 6:36:54 PM

I have four computers with a total of six optical drives and none of them have failed yet. The one I use the most is a BenQ from 2004.
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a c 114 G Storage
January 9, 2010 6:41:12 PM

I have yet to have a Plextor drive fail.....except in two instances. Both were in the same puter which had a small case w/ inadequate cooling and both were replaced under warranty (lost 2 vid cards and a HD on that one until I mod'd case and added more cooling. I have one Plextor in a server that's been running 365/7 since 1999 ....several others that are 4 - 8 years old.
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January 9, 2010 6:59:59 PM

I haven't had any problems with "older" drives like the Plextor you mentioned. But now Plextor and Lite-On are the same manufacturing line, Sony and NEC are the same.

Trust me, cooling is not an issue for me. I have a CoolerMaster NVIDIA case running 6 x 120 mm fans, twin 90 mm GPU fan sets, 140 mm PSU fan, 3 x 80 mm HDD fans, twin 80 mm RAM fans and CPU heatsink/100 mm fan. Also the mobo chipsets have separate fans and I use SATA cables, narrow PATA cable. Loads of interior room for airflow around the single optical drive and my system runs less than 50 C. (I know what you mean. I burned through multiple GPUs, PSUs and NIC cards in cramped hot cases.)

My comments about the optical storage units seem to be in all the recent drives 2006 to present. At least, I can't find a current drive with much of a lifespan.
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January 9, 2010 7:03:12 PM

Mimoso said:
I have four computers with a total of six optical drives and none of them have failed yet. The one I use the most is a BenQ from 2004.


BenQ was acquired by Lite-On, now same product.
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a c 415 G Storage
January 9, 2010 7:33:51 PM

Depends on how much you use them. The laser diodes have a finite life span, and burning is harder on them than reading because they have to operate at higher power levels.

I have a Pioneer DVD/HDD recorder and the service manual indicates that the DVD drive is rated at 4700 hours of use.
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Anonymous
a b G Storage
January 9, 2010 7:49:06 PM

The early writers I had were secondhand and made in Japan -- they were over-engineered mechanically and were only retired because they were slow.

Later, faster models made in China (I've had a number of LiteOn models) work well but fail much sooner.

My friends in IT report the same -- 18 months lifespan.
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