Ask the Hatchet Geek: Locked, but not loaded

Senior Kunal Johar, The Hatchet Geek, is a computer science major and co-founder of Twice a month, he will solve typical computer problems students face. E-mail The Hatchet Geek your computer queries at

Several readers have e-mailed about problems with their CD/DVD drives. This week’s topic will cover various drive problems and some basic remedies.

Q: My CD/DVD drive has a disk stuck in it and the drive will not eject; what can I do?

A: Fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to solve. Near the eject button on the drive you will usually find a small hole. Open up a paper clip and slide the wire into this hole (apply pressure). You’ll hear a click and out will pop your drive.

If the problem persists, follow these directions to get rid of a jam in your drive:

1. Eject the drive as already mentioned

2. Look at the underside of the ejected drive. You will see a spring attached to a metal clasp.

3. Using tweezers or a small slotted screwdriver, dislodge the jam and allow the clasp to move back and forth.

Q: My CD/DVD drive is causing “read errors” or performs slowly; what can I do?

A: Often there is collected dust on the reading lens of the drive. At Radio Shack or Tower Records you can purchase a lens cleaner. Go for a brand-name cleaner such as one from Phillips or Sony because cheaper cleaners can scratch the lens instead of cleaning it. Cleaners go for about $15.

Your other option is to replace the drive. In laptops replacing the drive is as easy as ejecting it and plugging in the new drive. On desktops, the difficulty is about the same – as long as you can open up the case of the computer to unplug the cables holding in the CD/DVD drive. For $20 you can get a basic CD/DVD drive and for about $50 you can get a CD/DVD recording drive. Try EBay and for better deals before going to your PC manufacturer – unless of course you have a warranty.

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