Fix or upgrade your Optical Drive with OWC.

globe-CDdriveWe really don’t think about our optical drives a whole lot. That is, of course, until we need them.

Unfortunately, with the near-ubiquity of broadband access we really don’t use our optical drives all that much any more. Software updates are downloaded from the appropriate server, we get our movies and music from the iTunes Music Store or other sources, and we wind up transferring files using USB flash drives or a “cloud” service like Dropbox.

Even backups, that perennial favorite use for recordable media, is shifting towards hard drive-based solutions, with their lower cost per gigabyte, reusability and overall faster transfer rates.

With this shift away from the optical drive, about the only time you need to use it is when you’re installing software. This is probably why there were so many reports of broken optical drives just after Snow Leopard’s release; they were probably broken for a while before that point, but nobody noticed until they actually needed to use the drive.

That is not to say, however, that optical drives are of no use outside software installation. While backing up whole systems to CD or DVD isn’t particularly cost-effective, backing up individual projects can be. I, myself, do this for the occasional album cover that I design for my various musician friends – I keep a copy, they have a copy, and one gets sent to the printer.

Don’t forget music and movies, too. While some people have embraced the whole “multi-media PC” paradigm, there are others (myself included) who have their home entertainment systems based around more traditional media. Burning a DVD (or even a Blu-ray disc) of your kids’ school play is about they only way they’ll get to see it at home.

Then there’s those who (gasp!) don’t have an iPod/other media player or a way to hook one up to their home or car sound systems. In those cases, a CD is likely the best way to listen to music in the car.

So, there’s more than just one reason to have a working optical drive, and the more capabilities it has, the better.

We carry optical drives for most Mac models—both internal and external models— but I’d like to focus on one model in particular – the Mac mini.

Mac minis seem to be extra-prone to having their optical drives conk out. It’s possible that the heat in the small form factor combined with the relative fragility of most slot-loading optical drive mechanisms is to blame. It’s hard to say with any certainty, though. Whatever the case, when my Dad’s mini had its optical drive go out late last month—not a good month for it—I looked it up and found a surprisingly large number of similar cases.

Fortunately for all of us charged with taking care of Mac minis, OWC has a supply of replacement SuperDrives for the mini, and even have a couple of bundles to sweeten the deal.

These are ATAPI optical drives, which means they are only good for Mac mini models prior to 2009. Those released after March ’09 require a SATA optical drive. Besides… if the optical drive in those has gone bad, you’re still under AppleCare!

If you have a pre-2009 mini, though, this can help breathe new life into your mini. You can either install it yourself with the help of our highly-acclaimed Instructional Series of videos or you can have us do it with our installation service.

Your mini is a great computer in a small package. Let OWC help you get it performing at its best.


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  • Good to know the option is there especially as pulling down a vast number of CD’s to itunes could prematurely wear out the original drive. I’d like to know if the replacement drives OWC is offering, can read various Zones without being hobbled, as is the case with the units on the Mac (for myself, specifically an MBP 17″ Intel, mid 2009). Alternatively, if this is a Mac OS sotfware limitation rather than hardware related, do your external drive offerings provide for DVD/Blu-Ray multi-zone usage?.

    This, and off-loading the internal drive usage, is a very good reason for investing in an extra drive. About 1 in 3 of the DVD titles we have here at home (despite the DVD hobbling, Zone 1 discs are freely on sale here in this Zone 2 paradise), so ripping whatever the zone is prime consideration.