Posted 21 October 2011 - 07:41 PM
Chances are you're looking at a hardware failure on the optical drive.
If you go into your My Computer window, and turn on to show drives with no media in them, the CD/DVD drive should show up. After that, right click it and see what options you have. Try opening directly there, it may get the discs to read. If they do not read at all, that could be a sign of hardware failure.
Have you tried any other CD or DVD drives in that machine to see if they read discs?
Also, some programs for burning (like imgburn and others) will give you more detailed information or diagnostics about your CD/DVD drive, and may be able to tell you if the drive is completely not reporting a disc inserted - if that is the case, and the Windows driver has been reinstalled, it's about a 10-to-1 that the drive is dead. Typically, Windows Drivers can communicate with optical drives just fine for the basic reading functionality.
There may be diagnostic software out there for optical drives as well, I'll be honest I've never looked for it before. However that software may work through Windows.
A surefire way to see if the drive is dead is to insert a bootable CD (I suggest downloading and burning a Linux Live CD like DSL, Puppy, Knoppix, etc, or another bootable cd such as the UBCD, on another computer) and see if the system will boot from it. Make sure your BIOS is set to have the CD-ROM drive as the first boot option, or gives you a key you can hit to go to a menu to select which device to boot from. If the machine boots from the drive, it may not be a dead drive, but you may have a windows problem. If the machine does not boot from the drive, it's pretty much going to be dead.
A replacement DVD+-RW DL drive will run roughly $20 USD lately, depending on brand, location purchased from, and "extra features" like LightScribe, or Blu-Ray reading support.