Why is my CD/DVD disk or floppy dead?           

The related , why is my  HDD dead and tests are here.

FLOP:? (my floppy is a flop?) Fails.?  Amazing how there are still vast posts new on forums about floppy drives/disks?
The dead floppy is first., why are you using a floppy for any thing?, they are not sold now , nor supported. BUT XP asked for one with it's silly today,  F6 key demand when XP install can't find the SATA drivers.(endless horror that)
There are only 2 choices, for the  above,  one is to find a floppy disk that works (LOL)and put the driver on said floppy or  the drive is missing (LOL) you can buy a USB floppy emulator ebay and use that.(and pray)
XP installer (inanely) refuses to allow F6 access to any CD/DVD/BR disks, nor will the stupid THING allow  say  using  any kind of 2nd HDD or extra partition access in any why shape or form ( a real pain the the ash  can that is, back 17 years ago,  crying towel time...) (if XP is your only choice? huh? the cure is to slip stream the XP install disk with that missing driver, see MONSTER here.)
That ends my XP horrors,  topic, FLOPPY (best is to avoid Floppy drives and XP for the end of time !)  I for one, will never miss XP.
Obviously you need a blank disk, a working USB port and the driver missing copied to said diskette.

End legacy oldest. (well my first PC used 8" floppies)

CD's DVD's and Blu-Ray™   BD disk media issues.  (do no read my history, jump now to cures)
Endless problems here.  (both hardware and software and even , "not supported yet on this old DRIVE"
A short short History: Year 2000 to 2017 , these disks are all fading fast. (The cloud, the streaming video and cracker thin PC's are killing CDs dead)

The oldes CD is first.  it comes on 2 forms: (CDDA or in a Files based form) CDDA uses RED book spec. rules.(wiki that)
The first is CDDA (eg. astore bought music disk) that has  NO files normal on it,  My BR player shows this. but you can't copy them from titletrack01.cda to say my HDD. (they are not real files!)
The CDDA works more like a relic  vinyl 78 RPM record does, (with wavy groves but no spiral) as seen also on the famous gold record , on the Voyager space ship.
They are not files, but  CDDA are digital tracks  "cylinders in fact" , only tracks of digital encoded audio AIFF, and not compressed, so sound much better than most other formats, but not as good as real expensive WAVE FILES.

The means Windows file Explorer will not find files on any CDDA disk, (uisng "My Computer", or the new name for Explorer is "THIS PC" )
To play CDDA (compact disk digital audio) take a player program,  best is , VLC. Best of best. Not any thing from MS ever. ( CDDA can be RIPPED to MP3 files for use in PC with no CD drives seen today)
To play CDDA with VLC , first run it and point it to the CD drive. (VLC + Media +OPEN DISK + pick Audio CD, browse top CD drive, and play.)  VLC is French made;  the safe place to get it is from THEM.

There are usually 3 complaints (at the least) on CDs of any kind when I say CD I mean, ALL OPTICAL MEDIA, CD to BlueRay BD disks.
  • I can't see my files,? (My BD drives sees CDDA tracks there,  but are just track names and are not files , on older OS the Windows file explorer shows "nothing there" for CDDA   or will just autoplay the CD.
  • I can't play them, but can see them , all comments on this page assume you have a good VLC player and the PC is not virus infected.
  • or I can't burn my files to to say a DVD-R. (get Imgburn from the offical maker here, avoid malware sites endless,)
Do not let any PC autoplay files, turn that off or  you will get infected with a virus (auto play is evil) avoid it !

Next up, are real files disks, The CD real, using files began in 2000 (to the public) using ISO-9660 standardized formats. (and related like Joliet and more)
The truth is all modern drives (optical drives) can see and use them all formats. (if you bought a new BD blue ray disk drive, it will do them all, just  like the virtual swiss army knife)
This brings up a good point, why not upgrade to BD disk drive, that burns everything, and reads everything and end all this pain now.  Best of the Best solution of them all.

The Oldest drives were the worst, the could only do  some or many  formats,  if you read the data sheets on your old 2001, CD drive, you'd see it can't to squat. (gross limitations!)
Not only that, but    OLD DISK DRIVE can be defective after 18 years of long service. (no kidding they don't last for ever)
Old CD-R media made back in 2000  early years, my brands were TRASH. (you burned a coaster we said then) But never a bad disk from Taiyo Yuden
I find today that Verbatim disks all burn great, even from walfart.

I can't read my files you say. Lets say it is a CD or DVD, of some kind.? Cures !  I will say CD for (all optical media of any kind)

If  you CD disk can not be read any modern PC, then your media is bad.   (find a friend with a newer PC that has newer CD/DVD/BD working DRIVE)  (a DRIVE means the Main chassis and media Player DEVICE)
If the CD can be read on amy  newer modern PC ok, then  your failing PC has the problems , a bad 2001 CD drive? many were bad new,  bad drivers for your CD drive, corrupted OS?
If you can't burn any CD, with ImgBurn, then do the same thing try another PC, if that works then your media is ok, but not your old PC CD/DVD drive, for sure if 18 years old.
If your Drive can't read anything, then the drive is bad, or the driver is missing (XP loves to do that) or the classic XP registry filters for CD drive are bad, (google that) XP is dead, so get rid of that.
What is a DRIVER ?(it is just software) It's like a horse but no saddle to you can't drive(ride) the horse can you?, unless you are an indian?
Every device made has  matching driver and must match your OS (operating system)
If using a PC with XP or VISTA guess what?, there are no drivers served up now from HP or MS to support you CD drive, Microsoft shut all that down now. Time to UPGRADE your PC to W7 (at least)

First we discount CDDA above, then we ask what disk is it,?  there are just 2 kinds of disk, you burned it (or someone) or a store bought  disk (brick stores not online sold cloned disks)
Take a look at , all  Install disks they are all real disks with real files on them, that came from the PC maker or MS, with files and are not CD-R disk nor DVD-R nor BD-R disk. Real disks all can be seen as files. (install files)
Real disks are pressed, not recorded. ( a pressed disk is real,  a CD-R is not, it's totally different technology it is not pressed, it uses, optical effected chemicals inside it)
Examples; of real disks (I will not cover recorded disks, until later)
CD real , are like any Microsoft,  or HP install disks; those are REAL CD's, not made in any form or recorder disks ever. so all work like a charm or your  drive is bad. (or its driver missing)
Take note here even a 2000 year drive can read any Real disk,  CD reads CD real disk with no problems, unlike CD-r can be  a huge problem back then.
Or say you bought a device, any device, for your PC, say USB device or an add-in PCI card to your desktop PC.?
This DEVICE  usually comes with  a CD, and is real, and can be read without any  problems at all.
The first clue to a real disk is the fancy top label, the clue to fake disks, recorded is a crude lable or pen marks on top of the CD. (home made or by hackers or cloners or the like are all bogus here) Here is fancy hackers disk to avoid
The point here is to test the DRIVE first, using a real disk ; just to see if the drive works on real disks. (a base line we set here for basic functionality) (real CD or Real DVD movies, not copies)
 If yes and  a  fake disk (CD-R,/DVD-R) fails the disk can be just defective or was burned incorrectly or the PC is infected with virus) Fake means not from an official source, like HP , MS or a top maker of DEVICES.
Case in point, one guy did not make his  recovery disks as told day1, when he bought the PC new from HP., then waited 5 to 10 years and did so, on an infected PC, and the disks he made are TRASH. (pure junk)
Then wonders why the disks are junk.?
Those are NOT official disks (DVD-R) at all. (these are home made disks)
Here is how real disks are made, Not recorded in Joes Garage.(once you learn this fact, all else gets vastly easier to understand , no?)

Most install disk have  file called readme.txt  a simple small text file that any PC on earth can read easy,  try reading that, first.  can you?  If not the Drive is bad.(real CDs)
If you try the disk on a new PC does it work.?(reading it)
Even if the DVD or BR disk is a movie (not home made, but from the movie RACK at say walfart) you will see files,  you will see VOB files there, for sure. In the D:/Video_TS , folder (example) about up to 7 gigs worth.
 If not ?, then the drive is bad, or the software driver for the DRIVE  are missing or wrong or corrupted (XP loves to lose drivers)
A good driver comes  from only 3 places (HP, MS or the DRIVE maker)  HP or the name of your PC.
Ok if the media was CD-R (recorded)  by say you and is old or was recorded on and older PC, it may fail on any PC. Old PCs have many problems, the Drive is bad (or was never up to par) or the OS is corrupted.
The 2001 CD drives as a CLASS, are brick stupid in this regard back then, they really are ALPHA drives, ( experiemental in nature but sold as good, and are just pure junk)
The drives laser is old and weak or the lens there is full of dust or lint or other dirt there. (clean it yet?)

There are 18 years of  CD evolution here, so do not expect any old DRIVE that old to work right now or do all formats we use today, it will fail in many cases !
There are also CD+R disks that CD-R drives that some media players can not read or write, or CD-RWdisks that are horror to use, avoid CD-RW ! (unless time is not important to your life)
There are many makers for CD-R media that are junk, and will not be reliable.  (buy top named brands !)  One trick is to slow the burn rate down on those old trashy CD-R disks.
If you can't read a recorded disk, on your old  PC, then try it on a new PC, if that fails, then burn the CD on the newer PC and then take this new CD to the old PC and test it there.
I use Imgburn (free) for years (see link above) and years with zero issues  (on good media and modern DRIVES and W7 and newer PCs)
If you can see your files ok,  then they should either run or play. 
If the disks are full of documents, PDF, DOCX , or other desktop published files, you can not read it with out a reader app.
If you use  VLC program (it too is free) you can play just about any disk made or any (multimedia formats). Movies, MKV movies MP4, MP3 music or CDDA. (the list is HUGE, read the VLC makers web site for details)
The end of the road for CD's?
Then the cloud is born and CD/DVD/BR/ and USB(soon) are now dead.  (I moved my DVDs to the VUDU cloud and to a private MKV server.)
When the CLOUD fails, all the crybabies , shed tears endlessly , helpless as one. (or their data was hacked)what then?  You never once backed up? By your self?
Today all my install files are in ISO file-folders, on a server and when need one,  I burn a USB memory stick using RUFUS, app.

YMMV, Your Media My Vary.!
OMG: (oh my golly)
In just 10 more years, all kids will say , hey dad, what's a record album?, what is a CD?, what is a phone booth or omg what's that  rotary dial there?, or even NOW.

RIP, all media disks.

Here is the Optical media matrix, a list of all the things your drive can not do? (but mine can) from wiki  , mine even does double layer BD-R
See word pressed here, then watch the video above? Pressed = REAL

Now see a 1996 CD drive what it can and can not do, see why they stink?  see the above, then see below, see that old CDs can not read most modern disks. But can read CD-DA and ROM and some CD-R
As you can see DVD-R will fail below, and many more formats.
ROM means real pressed disks.(old red/yellow book spec)

Most Blu-RAY drives, are really 2 drives inside, 1,  CD/DVD and a BR section, so one side can be good and not the other. (It even may show up in explorer as 2 drives)
Most Optical drives from the early days until 2010 look like a shot gun blast to the top matrix above,  only you can read you product data sheet and learn what your drive do and not do.
In most cases, get a new drive, and be happy.

version 1.  12-9-2017