Cleaning Optical Drives

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by seekermeister, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    One of my optical drives began having problems seeing discs, either for reading or writing. I figured that it was due to the fact that it had been quite a while since I cleaned it. Therefore I dug out my Philips Cleaner disc, which is actually no more than a disc with a couple of very small brushes on it, which dusts the lens as it rotates. At first it didn't seem to help, but after repeating it a couple more times, the drive does see the disc for either reading or writing, but not as well as it should, because I sometimes have to insert/eject the disc several times before it starts working.

    The only explanation for this that comes to mind is that those little brushes are not as effective at cleaning as one might hope. Is there a better method of cleaning, short of disassembling the drive to get to the lens for a manual cleaning?
     
  2. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    One of the problems with optical drives is dust, dirt, and oily grime is sucked into the optical drives by the case fans pulling from the case interior. The oily grime is the bad stuff as it includes sticky residue from our own dander (dead skin), pets (cats are the worse), hair, kitchen/cooking, cigarette smoke (almost as bad as cats), etc. and that can coat the lens (and everything else), causing the next round of dust to stick to the grime. Those cleaning disks then brush through it, but don't necessarily clean it.

    I periodically take my computers outside to blast them out with compressed air and hitting up the opticals is one area I concentrate on. If you don't have an air compressor (that is properly setup for blasting electronics with a suitable moisture and particulate filter), you can try using a can of compressed dusting gas (available at home improvement, computer shops, and even Wal-Mart). Just ensure you keep the can level so only gas, not liquid is spewed out.

    Proper storage and handling of the disks themselves helps eliminate grime and dust build up on the disks, and not carried into the drive and onto the lens.
     
  3. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    Hmm, I don't have the kind of air compressor that you describe, only a portable air tank that I can fill at a gas station...or perhaps I should say, at some gas stations, and that probably wouldn't work out too well. So I guess the can of compressed air is next on the agenda.

    However, I had an idea bouncing around in my head, about wetting those little brushes on the cleaning disc with some kind of cleaning solution. I do have some Novus plastic cleaner that I've found excellent for cleaning CD and DVD discs, but am far from certain how that would work out on the drives lens. Not because I think that the solution would damage the lens, but because I can't think of a way to insure that all of the solution would be wiped off as it should be.
     
    #3 seekermeister, Jul 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  4. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I was Googling on the subject, and found something at Amazon that caught my eye:

    Amazon.com : Digital Innovations 4190300 Clean Dr. Blu-ray Laser Lens Cleaner : Audio & Video Lens Cleaners : Electronics

    The drive that I'm having the problem with at the moment is a BD/DVD player, and I had not heard of a cleaning disc especially for Blu Ray drives before. The ad speaks of recessed pockets on the disc for the brushes to recede into, apparently to prevent the lens from being forced out of alignment.

    Are BD drives more delicate than a regular CD or DVD drive? That disc has ten brushes, rather than only two like the disc that I have, would that many brushes be good for anything other than more rapid cleaning?
     
  5. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Yeah, don't use those tanks. They are great for pumping up flat tires, but a bad side effect of all air compressors is the compression process heats the air, which later cools inside the tank, causing condensation to form inside the tank. In a short time, the moisture runs down the sides of the tank, collecting rust, dust and oils - nasty stuff you definitely don't want spewed all over your electronics - or optical lens. This is why you need a moisture and particulate filter on the hose, and I suspect the gas station's hose does not - thus you don't know what's in, or what might be spewed out of your small portable tank.

    No, that is just marketing fluff. While true, you can store a lot more data on BluRay disks, thus the drive's mechanical components may need to be more precise for proper alignment, the drive's themselves are quite rugged. Many are installed in portable devices, after all - so must be able to take occasional bumps and rough handling.

    I think you misread that. The pockets are not on the disks, but in the cleaner so the brushes are not so stiff they knock the lens assembly out of alignment.
     
  6. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I think what threw you is what I mean't by disc. not the drive, but the cleaning disc

    "Patent-pending Zero-Clearance Technology uses a brush-and-pocket system to allow each cleaning brush to flex into a recessed cavity without knocking the delicate Blu-ray laser lens out of alignment."

    EDIT: What I'm thinking of is to use my current cleaning disc to apply the solution, then use one of these to wipe the mess off. That is because I'm a smoker, and I rather doubt that even compressed air will blow that residue off.
     
    #6 seekermeister, Jul 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2013
  7. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    If you smoke around your computer, then yeah, it won't clean that film off. I don't know what will (based on being a former smoker and remembering how hard it is clean that off the inside of a windshield).

    It is worth a try. And if no luck, then you know you will need to disassemble the drive and clean manually, or get a new drive.
     
  8. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    No, not a new drive, they are still too expensive. The Rig has three drives in it now, so I can get along with the BD drive, if I must. The only reason that I bought it was to see if I felt that Blu-Ray disks were worth the extra cost, and I don't. In fact, I only have one BD video...The Searchers.
     
  9. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    If you have a true HD TV - that is, one that supports 1080p - not 1080i, and definitely not 720i, you would definitely "see" the difference between BR and DVD. Note the best DVD can do is 480p.

    HD TV content over cable, for example, comes in at 1080i and depending on your TV and eyes, may look the same as 1080p.

    So if you play the Searchers DVD in an AB (side-by-side) comparison with the Searchers Blu-Ray, you would definitely see the difference. But whether that results in greater "entertainment value" is a matter of personal preference.

    Me, being an consumer electronics freak, I buy Blu-Ray. But frankly, there are many who simply prefer the book.
     
  10. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    My monitors are up to snuff, and it's not that I don't see the difference, it's just that I'm happy enough with regular DVDs...for the most part. A lot of the movies that I like are old classics, and whether Blu-Ray or DVD, they aren't going to be all that good anyway. Yes, it would be nice if all my collection were Blu-Ray, but I'm too cheap to pay their prices.
     
  11. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    And many people are. What I don't like about BD pricing is the packages typically come with the DVD too, and often a digital download license. And if your BluRay player connects to the Internet, you can get some neat extras. And that would be fine if I wanted them, but I feel with many BluRay movies, I am paying extra for things I don't want, or need just to get the BluRay disk.

    From a technical standpoint, it is a rip off because it really costs no more (maybe a few pennies) to stamp out a BluRay disk than it does to stamp out a DVD.

    But my issue is, if I didn't care about image quality, I would not have bought an expensive big screen TV that support 1080P.

    Now if they can only get 3D to display in the same high resolution WITHOUT the need for glasses...
     
  12. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    Yes, it just came to mind the size of your big screen TV, and I can better understand your preference for Blu Ray. With that big of a screen, you need all of the resolution and definition that you can get. I haven't seen anything in 3D movies since I was a kid at the drive-in theater, having to wear those red and blue lensed paper framed glasses to watch it. I thought it was kind of neat at the time, but I doubt that I will ever buy anything for that purpose at home, because they will never come down to my price range, and I rather expect that my current monitor and TV will last as long as I do.
     
  13. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    3D will come down in price and become affordable. You can even get computer monitors that support 3D. I just don't want the glasses - not to mention I already wear eyeglasses most of the time and wearing 3D glasses over them does not sound good. Plus, I already have a hard enough time keeping track of my regular glasses.

    I will likely get 3D when the 2nd generation of 3D sans glasses come out.
     
  14. seekermeister

    seekermeister Honorable Member

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    I totally understand your feelings about glasses, I have to wear them myself, just to be able to read the computer screen, unless I set the font size very large, and if I do that, it throws everything else out of kilter. I am currently only using reading glasses, so they are cheap enough that I keep a bunch of them in bags hanging from my bulletin board, so I always have them available when I misplace a pair.
     
  15. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    I have 3 pairs of glasses. One for regular use, another the same but sunglasses, then a 3rd pair I use just for computing with a focal length at the end of my finger tips - which happens to be where my monitors sit.
     

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