Is it time to buy a new drive?

Hi Experts

I have a Plextor 708A CD/DVD R/W drive that's been backing up office data onto DVD every day for three years now. Laterly, it has developed a problem whereby it won't recognize what's in the drive. The activity light just winks and winks. Sometimes it'll find the disk in half an hour, sometimes an hour, sometimes never. On cleaning the drive with a Memorex DVD drive-cleaning DVD, the drive works fine again for a week or two, and then develops the fault again.

Is it time for a new drive? Or does it just need cleaning?
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The history of it working after the clieaning suggests the possibility of an environmental problem. Take and over all view of the room were it is located. Look for the possibility of dust or other contaminates. For example were is the air conditioning vent in relation to the system.

Open up the computer and check for an acumulation of dust.

Microsoft has a good page on troubleshooting.

Drives are cheap and so it is not such a big deal to buy a new one but you do not want to buy a new one and then have the same problem after a few months.
It sounds like the laser is dirty.
If it is not you problem would want to get a new burner it will most likely burn disks much faster.

This could be a software issue so try using it on another system
Forgot to mention if there is dust in the system an air compressor or canned air should be used to clean it out. Canned air is nice because it comes with a long tube for use to clean out hard to reach places, of which there are a lot in a computer.
My personal recommendations:

Short term:  Compressed air (see above).    Install an air filter/cleaner unit in the room if there's not one.

Long term: Get a new drive, for two reasons:  First, the PX708A, while a GREAT drive (I have one), is 'slow' by today's standards.   I personally am gearing up to replacing my own personal PX708A for that very reason.    Second, my previous PX708A experienced a sudden hardware issue where it would not recognize CDRW media, but recognized everything else.  I had the drive replaced under warranty.    

In your case, I suspect you have an environmental problem, but also POSSIBLY failing component(s).  For that reason, and MORE for the pure speed reason-  go get the latest plextor drive, even something like the "value" Plextor PX740-UF.   Here's their specs:

"The PX-740UF, Black External DL DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW supports 16X DVD±R and 16X Writing; 8X DVD+RW and 6X DVD-RW Rewriting; and 16X max DVD-Reading, 8X DVD+R Double Layer, 4X DVD-R Double Layer. The DVD/CD burner also boasts high-speed 48X CD-R Writing, 32X CD-RW Rewriting, and 48X max CD-Reading."

For under $200, you can get that drive (or anything else in their product line), and it's fast AND does double-layer discs.  WOOOOOOF.

Meanwhile, here's the lowly specs of the PX708 you're still running:

Data Transfer Rate: Burst (UDMA/33) 33MB/s
Writing DVD+R: 8x, DVD-R: 4x , CD-R: 40x
Rewriting DVD+RW: 4x , DVD-RW: 2x , CD-RW: 24x
Reading DVD-ROM: 12x , CD-ROM: 40x
Data Buffer 2MB


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