Troubleshoot a DVD Drive That Windows Sees as a CD Drive

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Reader Deborah has a Toshiba laptop running Windows 7. A few weeks ago, the system started treating the DVD-ROM drive as a mere CD-ROM drive. It could play and burn CDs, but it wouldn't have anything to do with DVDs.

Deborah says she scanned for viruses, checked for updated drivers, and ran Windows' DVD troubleshooter--all smart steps, but all to no avail.

Here's where it gets weird: "Third-party DVD burning programs all recognize this drive for what it is and it works fine," she says. In other words, the problem is limited to Windows itself.

Here's where it gets weirder: About a week later, the same problem cropped up on Deborah's HP desktop. She tried all the same troubleshooting steps, but in the end was left with two DVD drives that Windows thinks are CD drives.

Now this is a tricky one.

My guess is that either a Windows update or a newly installed (or uninstalled) program corrupted the Windows Registry, hence the OS thinking you've got CD drives while other programs see DVD drives. Very strange that it would happen on two PCs, especially so close together, which is why I think some errant Windows update is what gummed up the works.

Microsoft has a knowledge-base entry and Fix-it tool that may help. I say "may" because the problem described therein doesn't exactly match what Deborah is experiencing. But it's worth a try. (Always, always use System Restore to create a restore point before attempting any fixes like these.)

The good news is that you obviously have third-party software that works, so your hassle is exactly that; it's not interfering with your everyday operation. If any readers have any thoughts as to what may be causing this issue, or how to fix it, I'm all ears.

Contributing Editor Rick Broidawrites about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.Sign up to have theHassle-Free PC newslettere-mailed to you each week.

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