samsung cdrw/dvd sm-308b

I have the exact same problem as described in the post titled "Samsung cdrw/dvd not working properly - Windows XP - Dell Desktop."  I have tried the following:
reinstalled the drivers
Upgraded Roxio Easy CD Creator from 5.01 to
deleted upper and lower filters from registry and restarted PC
cleaned the lens
changed the boot order and booted from the OS CD (this worked fine -- I could boot from the OS CD)

Some audio CDs play, but not all; some software-installation CDs work, but not all; CDs I've burned on this drive are no longer recognized by this drive.  Do you still think the problem is the drive going bad?  Is there something else I can try?  Dell Tech Support tells me that they don't support XP service packs beyond sp2 (I have sp3 installed) and I got zero help from Samsung.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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kathosheaConnect With a Mentor Author Commented:
I agree that I have spent far too much time on this problem.  The only thing that stops me from replacing the drive is this:  because I burn the installation files for my company's application onto CDs, I would like to be confident that the CDs I burn are going to be readable on our customers' drives.  I have these two Samsung drives that won't read these installation CDs.  If the problem is the drives themselves, then the likelihood that a customer has the same drive is fairly low (especially given the age of these workstations).  If the problem is the media, then I better switch to something else.

I'll close this incident now.  Thanks to all for your input.
willcompConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Update drive firmware if an update is available.
daumanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
it's probably dirty/dusty inside. you can try a lens cleaner.

when the drive gets dirt on the lens you will find it will stop reading disks in the following order.
CDR's (written)
Pressed CD's
Audio CD

non burned - Audio CD's are the easiest to read.
cd cleaners do help but once your drive gets to the stage your at.. its usually not going to go back.
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JohnnyCanuckConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Any chance you can try he drive in another machine?  This would pin the problem down to the drive or OS/software.
kathosheaAuthor Commented:
I downloaded and installed the T101 firmware update from Samsung.  It made no difference.

I ran the lens cleaner again, and about a month ago, I opened the tower case and vacuumed the (incredible amount of) dust out of the PC's innards.  Neither of these actions made any difference.
The drive does play DVDs; at least the one I tried came up with the prompt to install some kind of interactive software, which I declined, but clearly the drive was able to read the DVD.  My main frustration is that the drive will not read CDs that it burned.

I could maybe try moving the Samsung drive from my Windows XP PC to my Windows 2000 PC (both are Dell workstations), but the Windows 2000 PC also has the Samsung 308b drive and is also having similar issues, so I'm not sure that moving the drive will tell me much.  The Windows XP PC is about 6 years old, the Windows 2000 PC a year or two older than that.  

Anything else?  Or should I just give up and buy a new CD/DVD drive?
kathosheaAuthor Commented:
Oh, I forgot to mention that I also uninstalled Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 Basic, just to make sure that was not the culprit.  It wasn't.  The uninstall also made no difference.
willcompConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Will it read any CDs (not DVDs)? If it reads DVDs and not CDs, the CD laser has failed and drive needs to be replaced.
kathosheaAuthor Commented:
The drive does read some CDs; for example, it reads software-installation CDs distributed by a company.  It will not read any CDs (audio or data) that I burned in that drive.

I may have another clue for you though; thanks to your questions prompting further testing, now I'm wondering if the drive has a compatibility issue with the media I'm using when I burn CDs. I'm the one who burns my company's application onto CDs for distribution and I use Maxell CD-RB 700 MB 48x "printable shiny gold surface" blank CDs as the media.  When I burn our application onto one of these CDs, other CD/DVD drives can read it fine -- just not the Samsung drive that burned it (ditto for the Samsung drive in the Win 2K PC).  

I just now tried burning-then-reading my company's application onto an Imation CD-RW 1x-4x compatible 650 MB CD, using the Samsung drive on the Windows XP PC (the drive this post is about).  It burned fine and it read fine!  So I'll be damned -- now I'm thinking it's the blank gold CDs, because every CD (audio and data) that I've burned on this drive and cannot read on this drive has been a Maxell gold CD.  What do you think?
willcompConnect With a Mentor Commented:
That drive can write to a particular disk but not read it is most strange. Since firmware has been updated, I can't think of anything else to try.
nobusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
the drive may just be dying - can you test it on another PC? - or test another drive on this one ?
kathosheaAuthor Commented:
Well I guess I'm ready to give up.  Here's what I tried this morning, but my results are inconsistent.

I removed the Samsung drive from my XP PC and connected it to my Win 2K PC. I collected a bunch of CDs and 1 DVD to test.
I found 3 CDs (2 data, 1 audio) + 1 DVD that played. (The 2 data CDs had been burned on this drive.)
I found 6 CDs (2 audio, 4 data) that never played. (All except 2 data CDs had been burned on this drive.)
I found 5 CDs (1 audio, 4 data) that sometimes played and sometimes didn't. (2 of the data CDs had been burned on this drive.)
I moved the drive back to the XP PC and repeated the above tests.
The ones that played before still played.
Of the ones that didn't play, 1 of the audio CDs played once, but not again.
Of the ones that sometimes played and sometimes didn't, none of them played.
As for gold media, there was one gold media CD that always played, but it was from an older stock.
The 6 that never played are all gold media, recent stock.
Of the ones that sometimes played and sometimes didn't, all but one are gold media, recent stock.

Does this make sense to anyone?  I don't know how to interpret my results.
I really don't have an answer as to why but I'd quit wasting my time and invest $25.00 in a new DVD burner.
i  also found out that not all drives can read all formats...
usually, older drives (slower) do better than the newest
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