Since Snow Leopard’s release a couple of weeks ago, there have been several reports of various optical drives being unable to read the installation DVD. There have also been reports of these same drives being unable to read other DVDs, as well.
What the heck is going on here?
There have been reports of some “bad” copies of the Snow Leopard installer disc, which would explain some of the instances. A trip to your local Genius Bar or a call to Apple customer service can usually resolve that issue.
There are, however, a number of instances that were not resolved simply by using a different disc. In these cases, the optical drive stopped being able to read DVDs at all. In a large amount of the cases shown on the Apple Support discussion boards, it seems that many of these computers were infrequently used, so it is quite likely these were cases where the optical drive was bad or on the verge of failing, but infrequent use made diagnosis difficult. Interestingly, almost all of the drives having these problems were the stock drives that came with the computer.
So what can we do?
Usually, if your drive stops reading media, that’s a good clue that the drive needs to be replaced. If your Mac is still under AppleCare, then you should be covered. However, for those past the warranty and don’t have AppleCare, you’ve still got options.
- Set up another Mac (running OS X 10.5 or later) to share its optical drive with the afflicted computer. While designed for the MacBook Air, this should work with any Mac. Though it is probably the least expensive method (as song as you have a second Mac) it is also frightfully slow, as it has to transfer all the data across your network.
- Replace the optical drive with a new one. If you had AppleCare, the main resolution would be to replace the drive itself. So, why not do it yourself? Other than the SATA slot-loading drives found in the latest models (which would still be under warranty, anyway), OWC has replacement internal optical drives for a wide array of Macs. The drives aren’t the only thing, though. We also have instructional videos that walk you through the process of replacing the optical drive for many Mac models.
- Use an external optical drive. This is a fairly good option for slot-loading machines – especially iMacs and Mac minis – since you can get optical drives with faster speeds and features that may not be available on a slot-loading drive, such as Blu-ray disc burning (sorry, still no BD movie playback, yet) and and Lightscribe labeling. OWC has a number of external optical drives available, all of which are bootable and will work with your Mac.
Don’t let a failing optical drive stop you from enjoying the benefits that upgrading to Snow Leopard provides. With our wide array of optical drive solutions and technical information, OWC can help get you on your way with a minimum of effort.