[GTALUG] Dead DVD drive in laptop

Giles Orr gilesorr at gmail.com
Sat Sep 30 09:40:55 EDT 2017

On 29 September 2017 at 21:11, Lennart Sorensen via talk <talk at gtalug.org>

> On Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 05:02:38PM -0400, Chris F.A. Johnson via talk
> wrote:
> >
> > The DVD drive on my Dell Inspiron laptop has died.
> >
> > I see three options:
> >
> > 1. Get it fixed
> > 2. Replace it
> > 3. Ignore it and get an external DVD
> >
> > Which would you recommend?
> >
> > (I'm running Linux Mint.)
> If you go for option 3 then you already have a drive for your next
> machine, which will most likely not come with one since that seems to
> be the way things are going.
> My wife replaced her DVD with a second hard disk in her laptop.
> She thought it was a better use of the space.

I've worked for a group called "Repair Cafe" on and off, and I can assure
you that #1 isn't really an option.  Unfortunately, the world has moved to
everything being disposable - although laptops are at least disposable in
smaller chunks.  A repair shop would simply replace it.  You can almost
certainly do it yourself - most optical drives come out after removing a
single screw on the back (the location isn't obvious - consult YouTube for
your model) and a gentle pull.  If the machine is relatively modern, the
drive is probably SATA and that means the connector and even the shape of
the drive is semi-generic, so replacing it should be quite easy - Canada
Computers was carrying the replacement drives a year and a half ago for
~$20 (but check the return policy first).  It may not sit perfectly or
exactly match the colour, but it should work fine.  If it's not SATA,
you'll have to get a machine-specific replacement - and those are harder to
find and more expensive.

Even if it's SATA, I would agree with Lennart's suggestion to get an
external - unless, as someone else said, you have to carry it a lot.  He's
right: hardly any laptops have optical drives anymore, and this will
future-proof you since you probably have a fair number of DVDs around.
Someone else suggested BluRay - I don't think you can play DRM BluRay media
under Linux, but if it was a writer you could use it as a backup (not my
first choice with external HDs so cheap, but definitely an option, and
possibly useful if you shoot your own videos).

Buying the external also offers another option hinted at by Lennart: the
dead drive can be replaced by a hard drive holder.  I did this in one old
laptop because it had a dead 1.8" HD (yup, 1.8" - you know how hard those
are to replace?!).  So I removed the optical drive and replaced it with a
device the same shape and size that now holds a SATA 2.5" drive that acts
as the primary drive.  So you could add a secondary HD if that appeals.

gilesorr at gmail.com
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