Unable to read a CD-R or other recordable disc

This can be a difficult question to answer because of all the different possible reasons that may be causing this problem. Below is a listing of several steps and recommendations that can be taken to help identify the cause of the issue or resolve this issue.


Verify you have the latest drivers installed for the CD-R or recordable drive. There are numerous driver related issues that may cause a CD-R drive or other recordable to stop reading a CD-R disc. If you are running Microsoft Windows verify your drive is properly detected and listed in Device Manager with no conflicts or errors.

If Windows Device Manager detects an error on the drive or if it has other drives listed in Device Manager with errors on them remove the device from Device Manager and reboot the computer to let Windows re-initialize the drive.

If Windows shows no errors, the above steps did not resolve the issue, or you are running a different operating system check with the drive manufacturer for updated drivers.

Computer CD-ROMCD-R disc

Not all CD-R disks are compatible with all types and speeds of CD-R drives or other recordable drives (especially earlier CD-R drives). Verify the manufacturer gives 100% guarantee for supporting all drives and disc speeds, for example, TDK discs often give a 100% guarantee. When in doubt try a different brand of CD-R disc.

Pre-mastering/Mastering Software

Pre-mastering software can sometimes produce incorrect tracks due to bugs. An incorrect ISO image could be generated, or incorrect sub header codes could be recorded in the case of Mode 2 discs. A good way to check whether the incompatibility problems lie with the originating software or with one of the other causes listed above is to test the same disc on several CD-ROM drives. If one drive is capable of reading the disc back correctly, chances are that the problem was not in the mastering, but is one or more of the other factors listed.

Disc is a recordable disc that the drive or player does not support

Verify the drive supports the recordable media you are attempting to read. Below are some situations to consider.

  • Old CD-ROM or early DVD drive - Some early CD-ROM drives and Generation 1 DVD drives (some of the first DVD drives released) do not support CD-R discs or CD-RW discs. Not only does this apply to computers but also home entertainment DVD players.
  • CD-RW in CD-R or CD-ROM drive - CD-R drives are incapable of reading CD-RW drives. If you are using a CD-RW disc verify the drive is a CD-ROM or CD-R drive is capable of reading the disc.
  • DVD recordable discs - If you have a DVD recordable disc and are unable to get it to read verify that the DVD drive is not a Generation 1 DVD drive and that it supports reading the DVD recordable media you are using. Additionally, a standard CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, etc drive is not able to read DVD discs.

Disc was created incorrectly

Make sure you're creating the disc properly. For example, a common mistake users make when creating audio CD's that they can listen to in their computer, car, or home stereo is burning the MP3 files or other files directly to the CD as a Data disc and not an Audio disc. All this does is burn the data files to the disc and not create an audio disc. This may allow you to listen to the audio files in the computer but will not allow you to listen to the music in the majority of other CD players unless they support MP3 format.

Disc or DVD contains media content not supported by the player

Not all home entertainment DVD players are capable of supporting and playing all the different formats movie files and audio files are stored in. Make sure the format or codec of the movie or audio file you're saving to the CD or DVD is supported by the DVD player.

If you're computer is capable of playing the files off the DVD but your home entertainment DVD player is not able to play the file it's likely you're encountering this issue.

Bad disc

If after reading through the above recommendations you still continue to have the same issue it's possible that the disc is a bad disc. Try re-burning the disc and if possible try a different brand of recordable disc.

CD-R Burning Tips

When burning a new disc below are some additional suggestions to keep in mind to help make the processes smoother.

No running programs in the background.

Try to close as many unused and open programs on the computer. Programs running in the background may cause issues during the burn.

Device Conflicts.

Make sure Device Manager has no device conflicts exist with any of the hardware in your computer. If these exist it could be an indication of a resource conflict that may be causing issues.

CD-ROM Properties.

In Device Manager, under the CD-ROM properties, ensure that Auto insert notification, Sync Data Transfer, and DMA are all disabled. To check this open Device Manager click the plus symbol next to CD-ROM and disc drives and double-click the CD-ROM device.

Disable Power Management.

Ensure that all power management is disabled on the computer. If the computer or a computer component goes into power saving mode during the recording process this can cause issues. Additional information about disabling power management

13 milliseconds access time or better.

It is recommended that your hard drive is 13 milliseconds or faster access time to keep the memory buffer full.

PC Defrag & Scandisk hard drive.

Run Defrag and ScanDisk on the hard drive.

Master on IDE channel.

If your CD-R is an IDE or EIDE device, it is highly recommended that you have the CD-R drive as the master and not the slave.

Do not use compression software.

Compression software can cause several issues during the recording process. It is recommend that you do not create CDs off of a compressed hard drive.

Additional information

  • See our CD-R and CD-RW definitions for further information and related links on these term.