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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting CD-ROM Drives | Errors ]

I am getting a "Data error reading drive X:" or "Sector not found" while trying to read a CD

Explanation: You are receiving errors trying to read the contents of a CD. The contents of one of the sectors on the disk cannot be read.

Diagnosis: The most common cause of data error or sector not found messages on a CD is a problem with the physical disk itself, assuming other CDs are working properly. If the drive consistently gives these sorts of problems, it can means that dust has accumulated on the read head of the drive and is obscuring the disk from being read properly. CD media are quite durable if not abused and should normally last for years of ordinary use.


  • Try ejecting the CD and then reloading it. Sometimes this will fix the problem because the drive for some reason didn't register it correctly the first time.
  • There may be dirt or dust on the surface of the disk. Examine it closely and if necessary, clean it by wiping it with a clean soft cloth radially, from the inside hub to the outer edge. Then retry the disk.
  • Try another CD in the drive and see if it works. If possible, try the problem disk in a different PC. This should provide you with enough information to decide if the problem is actually the drive or the particular disk.
  • If there is a single disk that is not reading properly, examine it closely for scratches. If it has any, look here for ideas on fixing the disk.
  • CD-ROM players that are not specifically designed to handle multi-session disks produced by CD-RW or some kinds of CD-R drives may have problems with those types of disks. Regular CD-R disks should be readable by most types of regular CD-ROMs, but there are different types of CD-R blanks and some types of media occasionally don't work well on some types of drives.
  • Some special CD-R disks use more than the standard capacity for a CD, 74 minutes. On some drives these will not always work properly.
  • If the drive is consistently having problems with a variety of disks, and the drive is more than a year old or has been used in a dusty environment, you should troubleshoot the drive itself here.

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