I have the dreaded exclamation points on my cd and dvd drives. I've tried the microsoft fixes and removed itunes, roxio etc. no luck. I'd like to "restore my dell to it's original state". I understand you can do this by going into the setup on boot. My fear is that I'll need to use the Dell disks to do this and if they won't read I'll be out of luck. If I try to restore to the original state will it need to read from my cd/dvd drives, or is everything on the hard drive to do the restore?
This may be a good strategy but I'd prefer to double check that error. In device manager, what is the error that is reported for your CD drive?
By the way, everything for OS restore is on the hard drive, but the procedure is different depending on whether you have Vista or XP.
Also, should i try booting up in safe mode and checking the drivers there? I'm assuming that would narrow it down to a software problem?
What safe mode does is bypass most of the drivers, so that's not going to help. But let me suggest you repeat the upper/lower filter trick now after uninstalling all the software. Uninstalling Roxio can actually create this problem.