Massive Optical Drive failure - Finally gets noticed with Snow Leopard

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by shigzeo, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. shigzeo macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2005
    This is taken from blog [linked below] and details the problem with optical drives which has become apparent at Snow Leopard's release.

    Article link: MacBook Optical Drive Optical Drives problems outted by Snow Leopard

    In general, MacBooks are engineering marvels. They can be praised for solid construction, excellent industrial design, ease of use, and (now), the retention of a decent array of connections. However, they fall prey to several engineering failures. One is air circulation; MacBooks are prone to run hot. But, whereas a LITTLE extra heat won’t kill a laptop nor a company’s image, the mass breakdown of optical drives certainly will. Sadly, Apple have so far ignored the widespread breakdown of its laptop optical drives - a problem which afflicts both new and old MacBooks.

    Apple’s Discussion’s forums has a 14-page long thread which is dedicated to the problem. While my laptop was fixed under warranty, I was without a computer for a week, an option which many cannot afford.

    As hinted at above, my two year old MacBook Pro suffered in inexplicable and sudden optical drive break down. Blank media of any sort could not be read, nor could it be written, and sometimes, regular optical media wouldn’t even mount. My wife’s 2006 original white MacBook won’t mount, read or write any optical media, and the other MacBook in our home is even worse - it simply spits disks out.

    Optical media is being superseded on a daily basis, of course - giving way to digital downloads, flash media, and wireless transfer. However, the vast majority of non-pirated software is still installed from optical disks.

    While our house sits at a 100% optical drive failure, real-world results are more favourable. But, with the debut of Snow Leopard, many Apple laptop users are finding a problem they didn’t even know existed: dud optical drives. At 29$, Snow Leopard is a great upgrade for any Intel-based Mac and for those who haven’t used their optical drives in a long time, an fulcrum which will expose another of Apple’s negligent engineering decisions.

    The issue isn’t Snow Leopard; the new OS merely gives people a reason to use their dusty drives again. Unfortunately, the new OS is given a run through the mud as users who haven’t used their optical drives in ages, find that their laptops have a problem.

    Apple, who shove slim optical drives into slim, poorly shielded enclosures have yet to respond to the thousands of users who face fixing their laptop under warranty, or in the worst cases, have to replace the drive with their own money.

    When viruses which infected Windows computers were found on a few iPods, Apple blamed Microsoft. When the logic board on my laptop failed, they blamed nVidia; and this time, though Apple’s optical drives come from a variety of manufacturers, there is bound to be a scapegoat. Problems with

    MacBook optical drives have persisted since the first model in 2006, however, the current thread which was started on 24 February, has yet no answer. Perhaps Apple are waiting for all problematic laptops to simply run out their manufacturer’s guarantee and quietly dispose of the matter from customer’s pocketbooks.​
  2. mjt2810 macrumors newbie


    Jun 17, 2009
    London, UK
    I bought my MacBook Pro 15" back in February this year (note: 6 months ago) and upon inserting the Snow Leopard DVD, the disc whirred a bit then spat it out again.

    The last time I used the drive was when I first bought the MBP back in February, so in total, a maximum of 5 uses since new.

    I took it to my nearest Apple Store and the really helpful Genius went and fixed it on the spot, no questions asked, but my question is this ...

    HOW? How can a relatively new, unused, untainted disk drive in a high end machine fail like this?

    I thought Apple products weren't meant to go wrong! Or did I believe the mythology too much.

    I'm just glad the fix was free and I didn't have to pay for the car parking whilst I waited!
  3. The ArchAngel macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2008
    I'm having this problem as well, though thankfully, my MBP recognized the Snow Leopard disc and allowed me to install. The problems began when I tried to install Office 08 and iLife 08 from my old retail discs, as the drive ground a bit and spat the discs back out. After about 20 tries the discs finally read.

    Just to help the discussion along, my MBP (configuration in my signature) is just over a year old, and I actually am already on my second optical drive. The drive currently installed in my machine is a MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-867. I do not know what was originally installed in the machine, but it's clear that this drive has failed in a similar way to that of the original. If you hold your ear close to the drive when you insert a disc that the machine won't read, you will hear it alternate between two pitched tones in a repeated pattern for anywhere from 20-40 seconds, with a few "grinding" sounds every few seconds before the drive finally spits the disc out. Now, when my first drive failed the Genius bar replaced it for me but not without giving me a fair amount of hassle and claiming they could not reliably duplicate the problem. I plan to have this drive replaced at some point, but likely not until closer to the Christmas holiday season as I am not using the optical drive that frequently and I really can't be without my machine at the moment.

    One other item to note, I also have a relatively new 24" iMac, and any discs I have ever had issues with in my MBP work completely fine in the iMac, further supporting that my optical drive in the MBP has failed or is in the process of failing.

    Hope that information helps.
  4. shigzeo thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2005
    Thank you for the information. Yes, I think it does help. I have noticed too that Mac Pro or iMac computers which I have used don't suffer from the same problems that the MacBook line suffers from.

    Alas, getting one fixed now... is silly since my wife's 3 year old machine would probably sell for the price of a fix or a bit more.

    Currently, I make images of the disks and transfer them to her computer via firewire so we can use the software. Sadly, we have family licenses for a variety of software (Snow Leopard will come in the next couple of months), but cannot utilise them without taking a few extra steps.

    Her computer has never been abused at all. Neither has her friends' which doesn't work at all.

    I will get model numbers as above tomorrow.
  5. dazey macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2005
    I hardly think this is an Apple only problem or surprising. Where I used to work the CD drives in the work desktops got used once in a blue moon and after a few years there was a huge failure rate and desktop drives should be more reliable than laptop drives. I am frankly impressed that my 2006 MBP still reads disks at all. It has only just started having problems burning DL media and this machine has been dropped, drowned and heavily used.
  6. kdum8 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    Sadly apple notebook optical drives are notoriously poor quality. They often have issues. Macs generally do 'just work' but certainly not their drive bays. I am not sure why this issue hasn't been resolved as it isn't something new.

    My 18 month old MBP's optical drive is also highly temperamental. It was always bad and has gradually gotten worse to the point where it rejects most disks now. I have applecare so when I next go on holiday it will go in for a replacement. Until then I use an external optical drive.
  7. shigzeo thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 14, 2005
    well, the number of failures (if you check the thread) of even new machines is well above norm. I know several people who have bought apple laptops in the last year and had problems with their optical drives.

    The fact that every single white original macbook that I have used in the last months has optical problems is rather stark.

    My macbook pro of course had its logic board fail, the optical drive fail and has a spotty screen which I will see about. I use a computer for my work - this computer and cannot afford to take it back or be without.

    one problem Apple seem to be improperly addressing is that with increased thinness, they need to properly support their hardware, or from the start, provide better quality devices to coincide with the price.
  8. gorjan macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2009
    Well, the first computer I ever experienced a CD/DVD-drive error on was my MBP early 2008. I only had the Mac for a week before the DVD-burner failed while I was burning a backup of my iPhoto-library. Luckily Apple gave me a new Mac the same day.

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