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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 "Not ready reading drive" error trying to use the drive

Explanation: While attempting to access a CD placed in the CD-ROM drive, the system returns an error indicating that the drive is not ready.

Diagnosis: The most common cause of this problem is simply trying to use the drive with no disk in it. It can also be caused by a problem with the drive itself or a bad disk. In rare cases there may be another more esoteric reason for seeing this type of error.

Recommendation:

  • Make sure that there is in fact a CD in the drive and that the tray is closed.
  • 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.
  • Make sure that the disk isn't upside-down in the drive. (Don't laugh! I've seen it happen.) More seriously, watch out for some rare types of CD-ROMs that actually require the disk to be put into the drive upside-down. If you aren't used to this (or don't know about it) and you put the disk in label-side up, it won't work.
  • CD-ROM players that are not specifically designed to handle multi-session disks disks produced by CD-RW or some kinds of CD-R drives will not recognize those types of disks. Regular CD-R disks should be readable by most types of regular CD-ROMs, but 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 work properly.
  • On some drives, especially older ones, there can be a problem with using a disk that has too little data on it as well. Some of these drives choose an area in the middle of the disk somewhere to use for calibration. If there is nothing on the disk there then there can be a problem with the drive. The only solution is not to use that disk in the drive (or change the drive, of course).
  • If you try to access a disk that is in a format not supported by your drive, the drive will often just pretend there is nothing in the drive at all and give the "not ready" error. For example, trying to do a "DIR" of an audio disk in DOS will produce this (although Windows Explorer will show the audio tracks OK). Some of the more esoteric formats such as CD-I may not work on some drives. See here for more on formats and cross-compatibility.
  • Try a different CD and see if the problem goes away. If it does, then the disk you have is dirty or damaged. Try cleaning the disk by wiping it radially from the center to the edge with a soft cloth. If you see scratches in the disk, then they can cause the disk not to be recognized if they are in a sensitive area of the disk. See here for ideas.
  • There may be a physical configuration problem with the drive. Double-check the connection to the interface.
  • If the problem persists for multiple disks then the drive itself probably has a problem of some sort. You should try another drive, or try the suspect drive in another system. You may need to replace the drive with another one (you can get it repaired, but this usually isn't cost effective unless it was a very high-end drive to begin with).

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