I am having some trouble burning CDs with my Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series laptop computer. I purchased it at Wal-Mart several years ago. When I go to burn a disc in iTunes (I have the latest version of iTunes, BTW) it indicates that the D: drive is the one I'm using and it lists the drive as D: TSSTCorp DVD+RW SU-208GB. However, after clicking "Burn" button, it asks me to insert a blank disc, even though there is a blank disc in the drive already. So I re-insert the disc back into the drive and it keeps saying "Checking Media..." but it never actually starts burning the disc. I have burned this playlist to a disc previously without problems on earlier versions of iTunes but now it seems it won't allow me to. The only things I know that could be wrong are that the CD/DVD drive needs updated or there is some issue with iTunes that wasn't there in previous versions of the software. Any help?
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If there is a firmware update, it will be there for your system (support.dell.com). More likely, this is symptomatic of a failed drive - not a firmware issue.
It will need to be replaced. They're not repairable.
If you're planning on using DVDs for a while, you may want to go with an external drive -- most newer systems don't have space for an optical drive any longer, so it's more future-proof.
If you just want an internal drive that'll replace the existing one,
what causes them to fail? Also do you recommend an external drive should I decide to go that route.
I decided to put in a commercial CD release to see if the drive would still recognize and play that disc and it was able to. Does that mean that the issue necessarily isn't with the drive but rather it is with the iTunes software? The reason I ask is because I've read on-line that there have been some issues with the newer versions of iTunes creating havoc burning CDs / DVDs.
It could also be the brand of blank discs you're using -- some are less reflective than others. I'd try a different brand of blanks first. If that doesn't solve the issue, chances are the laser in the drive is going bad (this usually shows up with writeable discs first -- they're less reflective than pressed, commercial discs).
You can also try the Dell diagnostics - have a blank, scratch disc in the drive, press F12 at powerup, boot to the diagnostics from the menu and run a test on the drive. This WILL write data to the disc, rendering it unusable.