MacBook Pro SuperDrive Burn Problems Update: Fixed with Laser Lens Cleaner!?!

Here is an update to my fun (and more fun) with my MacBook Pro optical drive.

I called Apple support. We talked for about an hour. We tried different things:

  • Tried burning a DVD again (just in case magic would happen this time)
  • Made sure that I didn’t have any drive permission corruption or something stupid like that — so we repaired my hard drive disk permissions
  • Ran a quick hardware test, which showed no problems

None of our initial troubleshooting resulted in success.

So the thinking before the end of the call was that I was going to have to get the drive replaced. I would prefer not to send my computer in a box to who knows where (even though it would be free with AppleCare and I hear good things about it). So we made an appointment at the Apple Genius Bar (again) so that I could bring my computer in, they could have a look at it, and then they can also tell me that the drive needs to be replaced :-) ; then I would have to come back to the Genius Bar for the actual replacement after they ordered the part. (Apparently, Apple phone support and Apple Genius Bar support are totally separate entities, so my call to Apple support could not be used as the definitive answer to replace the drive. The Genius Bar would have to make that decision for themselves. That is why I would have to go twice).

Anyway, right before we hung up, the support representative on the phone just off the cuff said to try a CD/DVD drive laser lens cleaner. I was a little surprised because I always thought these things were frowned upon. I made sure that doing so wouldn’t void my warranty and AppleCare support. She said no. So I decided to give it a shot. Anything to save me two trips to the Apple Store and the possibility of being without my computer for a day or two.

So I went to Target and bought the Memorex Optidisc CD/DVD Lens Cleaner. Came home. Popped in the cleaner CD. It did whatever it does with the little brushes that are pasted on the CD. And the CD ejected.

Pessimistically, I tried to burn some photos to DVD.

WHOA! It worked. I was shocked. A $10 fix, that I should have tried all along. 

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the right solutions, I guess.

(P.S. I highly recommend getting AppleCare for your Mac products, especially big purchase items like a computer or monitor. I usually frown on extended warranties, but I have used it for a couple of issues after my year warranty ended on my MacBook Pro. And if indeed there was a problem with my SuperDrive, having AppleCare means it gets replaced for *free*. AppleCare is good for 3 years after the purchase of your Apple product. And many times you can find the AppleCare for your product cheaper (e.g., Ebay) than buying it directly from Apple).

49 thoughts on “MacBook Pro SuperDrive Burn Problems Update: Fixed with Laser Lens Cleaner!?!

  1. Pingback: A Life of Constant Flux » Blog Archive » MacBook Pro Slot Drive Is Finicky - It was the CD-R Brand After All

  2. nate

    Thanks for the tip, including the question of potentially voiding the applecare warranty. I’ve had serious issues with my MacBook Pro’s ability to mount/read/burn DVDs. I’ve just used the Staples brand CD/DVD drive cleaner disc and it appears to have worked…. I was so close to buying an external burner, so thanks for saving me!

  3. Michael

    Hey,

    Thanks for the info. I am having similar issues…with my mbp. I can read but not burn with Toast or disk utility. I am on the brink of buying a replacement *sd*. I am running out to target will keep u posted.

  4. Joel Marcey Post author

    Hi Michael,

    Yes, please do let me know how it goes. I am interested in seeing if such a simple fix is the resolution to your problem.

  5. Ben Dixon

    Hi Joel

    I had the same exact problem and after reading this I used a cleaning disc that I bought for my old hi-fi and now my macbook is burning disc properly again! It seems over time these slot-loading drives get fussy as to what they burn but with this quick fix it is no longer an issue for me :)

    Cheers

  6. Robert

    Hey Joel, thanks for the post. It seems like anyone and everyone with a mac laptop has run into this problem at some point. I myself am dealing with the problematic drive as well. I purchased the Memorex Optidisc CD/DVD Lens Cleaner to see if it would remedy my problem, but I was wondering, did you get the cleaner to play the test track they put on it. every time I insert the cleaning disc, it spins for a few seconds and then spits it out. Now I’m assuming that the brushes are working, but when I tried burning a disc, it failed about 10-15% into the disc burning process. Before, it wouldn’t even let me start the burning. It would prompt me with a “Fatal Disc Error” right from the start. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

  7. Joel Marcey Post author

    Hi Robert,

    I am afraid to say that I don’t remember if a track played or not. I think the disc did automatically eject itself though. But that again is just speculation.

    I don’t really want to put in the cleaner again — i.e., if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    It is always possible that your drive is actually messed up beyond what can be fixed with a disc cleaner. Someone who commented earlier said the Staples version worked for them; maybe you want to try that?

    Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  8. Wakake

    Am havinh the same problems with my mbp..Will try out your solution… I never thought that would work… Will definitely try it out and suggest the same o others. My name is Wakake from Nairobi..Kenya

  9. Joel Marcey Post author

    Wakake,

    The problem happened to me a second time just recently and I used the cleaner again, and it started working again. So it seems to help, although I would prefer not to have to do it :-)

    Good luck!

  10. Arndragon

    Jesus Christ Dude !!!!
    You saved my day, just went to a store and bought a cleaning CD, “et voila!” Every damn CD/DVD I had problems with, works fine.

  11. Joel Marcey Post author

    Arndragon,

    Excellent! I am glad it worked out for you. You may have to use the cleaner again occasionally. I had to use mine again 6 months after I did it the first time.

  12. LAwaters

    Add me to the list of very grateful readers! The drive on my Macbook Pro (2.4 GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo from fall 2007) stopped reading or burning DVDs about 6 months ago. CDs worked perfectly for read/write. Many hours of reading support threads on the topic later, I found your blog entry, and bought the Memorex cleaner immediately.

    When I inserted the cleaning CD, iTunes opened and I clicked Play. The first 3 audio tracks explain what the cleaner does – about 3 min. worth. Track 3 told me the cleaning process was done.

    It worked! Thanks again – especially for the update mentioning the possible need to run it every 6 months or so. With my warranty expired, I was facing hundreds of dollars to replace the drive.

    Shame on Apple for not being more helpful on this issue! Your solution should have been on their site.

  13. Joel Marcey Post author

    LAwaters,

    I am so glad that my blog post helped you. That is great! Note that you might have to do the same thing again some months down the road (I did).

    And thanks for the chair recommendation! :)

  14. Jim Thomas

    Ditto. Memorex fixed the problem in 10 seconds. I had already replaced the drive once under Applecare, so I was pretty well pissed when it happened again as I was burning an ISO image tonight. My theory is that dust, dirt or lint may accumulate on the brushes that guard the slot. Push a disk in and some of that dust probably follows. Both times I had trouble is was when I was burning…maybe the foreign objects melt onto the lens. Apple needs to own up, or they are going to be paying for a lot of drives.

  15. Joel Marcey Post author

    Jim, yeah, it is amazing that a $10 CD cleaner puts a band-aid on the problem, but Apple doesn’t officially mention it. I am lucky the Apple support rep just happened to mention it, or I might have never thought of this solution.

  16. Karl

    Hey Joel – I can’t wait to get home and try your fix. I was at work Googling places to buy a new drive and came accross you blog. I hope your fix works for my computer as it has for others.

  17. Kevan R. Craft

    I have a MacBook Pro 15 Inch, 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 3GB RAM running Mac OS X 10.5.8 and experienced the same problem with my Matshita DVD-R UJ-867 drive after downloading an Apple Security Update.

    I tried everything from spraying air into the drive, a DVD Lense Cleaner Disc, Power resets and even banging the case. I’ve even flashed the DVD Drive but still couldn’t get the MacBook Pro to read either CD or DVD media blank or recorded or commecial discs.

    Finally, before I jumped to buy a new drive I decided to buy a set of Torx screwdrivers containing a T-6 Torx driver so I could disassemble my MacBook Pro and remove the Matshita DVD-R UJ-867 drive.

    I eventually removed the drive and removed the screws opening the actual drive to reveal the DVD-R drive contents inside. Once open I sprayed the optical lense with a can of compressed air and cleaned any dust on the lense and the rest of the inside of the drive. After that I replaced the DVD-R cover and replaced the screws. I then replaced the DVD-R drive back into the MacBook Pro and screwed it all back together.

    Once I’d put it all back together I then powered the MacBook Pro up, booted the machine and inserted a music CD THE BEST OF BILL WITHERS and low and behold the CD disc mounted.

    So stripping the DVD-R drive and spraying compressed air directly onto the optical lense removed the problem of not being able to load either CD or DVD discs. Now I can read any disc possible and the fix has returned the Matshita DVD-R UJ-867 drive so it now reads both CD and DVD discs as before..

    The process is a fiddly but worth the effort. It is my guess that 99 per cent of Superdrive problems experienced by Apple MacBook Pro users using this hardware cleaning method will return their Superdrives to working state so they should be able to read and mount both CD and DVD media..

    Job is a good one..

    Regards

    Kevan

    P.S. post this on any and all MacBook Pro forums and blos as possible so other MacBook Pro owners can use the fix to repair their DVD-R Superdrive problem no being able to read and mount CD and DVD media.. Do what I did above and you’ll get your drive back without having to buy a new drive.. If your MacBook Pro is under warranty with Applecare then go to Apple. If the warranty has expired use my fix to repair your Superdrive..

  18. Rod Hagen

    Interesting to see the Apple support person endorsing the use of a cleaning disc, Joel. They have had instructions in various places saying NOT to use them for many years. Even the OSX 10.6 help file says not to!

    I’ve been using cleaning discs in our own Macs with slot load drives for many years now (from the iMac G3 slot loader onwards). I’ve never had a problem with them, and the drives on a succession of iMacs from G3 to G5, iBooks, PowerBooks, MB’s and MBPs are all , without exception, still running fine as a result. The trick is to use them as soon as a problem becomes evident on one of the “harder” tasks for the drive, such as burning a dual layer DVD (or reading a Snow Leopard dual Layer data disc! ;-) ) , rather than waiting until things are so bad that you can’t even see an audio CD!

    An excellent tip from Kevan Craft, too, for those whose computers are out of warranty and AppleCare, if the simple “disc cleaning disc” approach doesn’t do the job because the drive’s lense has got too grubby to even recognising the cleaning disc at all, or if it can’t remove the gunge after a couple of runs through.

    I’ve never had to do this myself, and I’d been scared off suggesting it to others by worry about removing the cover of the drive until today, when a poster, sylven, on the Apple discussion boards indicated that he had done just this. ( see http://discussions.apple.com/message.jspa?messageID=10575636#10575636 ) In fact I only found this blog as a result of searching for posts from others who had tried the same thing!

    There are other things that can stop a superdrive from working properly , of course. Another serious issue when trying to burn DVD discs if you don’t have masses of free space on your drive can be HD free space fragmentation (always try to keep at least 10%, and preferably 20% of your HD free, even in these days of large drives, and if your drive is not so large you may need as much as 16 to 20 gig free to burn a dual layer DVD even if it isn’t fragmented) , bad media accounts for more such issues, and sometimes drives just fail altogether, but, like Joel and Kevan, I reckon a very large number of the problems experienced on slot loading drives in MBP’s , iMacs, and the like are simply down to dirty lenses. Yep, you can replace your drive in such situations, and the problem will be fixed , but doing so is going to cost you time (while the drive is replaced under warranty or AppleCare) or money, or both.

    The suggestions here (running a cleaning disc, and if that doesn’t do the job and your warranty has expired, cleaning the disc directly if you have the confidence to do so) make a heck of a lot of sense.

    Cheers

    Rod

  19. Mike Jensen

    Hej Joel, i had the exact same problem as you. I just went down to my local electronics supplier and got my self a lens cleaner CD, and it did the trick!

  20. Jose Luis

    Hi! Greetings from Mexico.

    The same problem with a Macbook Pro 2,2 Ghz… A few months before I replaced the motherboard because a defective GPU from nvidia, luckly that service cost nothing because Apple reconized the problem. And suddenly the superdrive stop working… really, my feelings about Apple rapidly change, turning from unconditional love to outrageous hate.

    And finally, found this solution…

    Well, I love my Macbook again.

  21. Joel Marcey Post author

    Kevan, I am glad that hardware solution worked for you. That is good to know in case I ever need to go down that route. I am glad for now that the Lens Cleaner did the trick as that is not as complicated.

    Rod, good points on other problems causing the drive not to work. I ruled some of those other things out before going to the Lens Cleaner.

    Mike and Jose, I am very glad I could be of assistance.

  22. LeAnne

    Just picked up the OptiDisc cleaner for my intermittent superdrive issues. It did NOT play the audio or kick up iTunes or even appear on my desktop. However, I let it sit, eject itself, put it back in, eject itself again, repeating the process a few times – and now the superdrive does seem to be working fine.

    I was a PC tech support person for several years and have used this method to clean many drives (even floppy drives way back when!). Many other techs I’ve worked with think it’s useless, but it’s always worked for me, and I’m glad to see it works just as well on the Mac’s superdrive.

    Note to anyone considering opening the case to get to the drive:
    check out http://www.ifixit.com/

    They have really good instructions, step by step, for repairing and replacing all kinds of Mac stuff, including the optical drives. I printed out their instructions to replace the hard drive on my MacBook Pro original core duo. I even taped the screws to their appropriate location in the instructions for putting everything back. It worked out wonderfully!

  23. Jon

    Hi Joel,
    great tipp, worked for me. I almost bought a new drive, you saved me the money, thanks a lot!

  24. Dawn

    Well I went to Target, purchased the Optidisc, tried to play it and my machine wouldn’t play it at all (it just ejected it). Since I’m running Parallels I tried to play it on both the MAC and the PC side — no luck with either. The next day (that would be today), I tried one more time and it played the CD all the way through. Afterward I inserted a couple of CDs that wouldn’t previously work and I was able to read them. I might add that another site mentioned using compressed air inside the CD slot and I did that first and a big chunk of dust along with a tiny piece of a Hershey’s kiss wrapper came out of the two openings right below the mouse pad. That alone didn’t do the job, but Optidisk finished it off. I hope this lasts!

  25. David

    I just bought a very nice used MBP and after doing Software Updates, and the “infamous” Security Update 2009-01, I had the same problems, and found countless posts on the Apple forums about this issue.

    Did another Google Search and your page came up high on the results, but sounded like a solution rather than another “arrgh, why isn’t Apple dealing with this” site.

    Very encouraging to see a number of people solve their problem with a disc cleaner. So I went out and got one the other day. And yes, it worked.

    I figured it had to be dirt of some sort because I did have success burning a movie on iDVD, but not a second copy on another DVD. And audio CDs were fine. Yet DVDs were spitting out like crazy. So I had reason to believe it was only “dirt”.

    Thanks for having a site with a positive answer and that it ranks high in the Google Searches.

  26. Pingback: Arnd Müller – Macbook Pro DVD Problem – gelöst !

  27. bobo

    my macbook has the same problem (bought only 1 year)! can still burn the CD RW and save my photos into it, but cannot read the blank DVD R! i think the super drive has the “BUGS”! otherwise, we will not have the same problem wiht MAC!!!!!! but i will take the macbook to the repair centre since i bought the protection plan….
    APPLE, pls fix the bugs asap!!!!!

  28. Vic

    THANK YOU! Didn’t know what else to do and then I ran into your post. Used the Staples brand cleaner and it worked perfectly. Back to burning DL DVD+R on iDVD and Disc Utility.. thanks again!

  29. Joel Marcey Post author

    Jon, LeAnne, Dawn, David and Vic:

    I am glad this solution helped get your drive up and running again — even if compressed air might have help contribute to the solution in the case of Dawn.

    I appreciate the comments from everyone.

  30. Michael Weiss

    Thank you so much for this tip. Worked perfectly for me. This should definitely be advertised more as a fix because I know a few people that have had this problem and have replaced their drives.

    Saved me a huge headache.

  31. Jon Boy

    Bought a macbook off craigslist. I was crestfallen when the drive wouldn’t work. Spent the 10 bux on a disc cleaner when i finally got it to take it played. Popped in the software and voila… SUCESS!!!

    THank you!

  32. Alvin

    Hey!
    Im an owner of a macmini and a macbook. And guess what… Both of the optical drives dont work at all… macmini even rejects CDs now, and macbook doesnt mount DvDs anymore.
    Great tip there. Going to head down to the electronics store and hunt for a CD lens cleaner tomorrow… lets see if it works on my two little babies..

  33. Rodrigo

    Thanks, it worked for me too. I got a Philips CD and DVD Lens Cleaner, put to run and now I read the DVD I needed for installing a software. I got a MPB late 2007… It’s an old machine but I think I can keep using it for a lil longer :)

  34. Evi

    Hello Joel!

    Just another BIG THANKS for your advice!
    My one-month old Macbook pro and me are so glad! :)
    You really saved me from having such an expensive device
    been opened at the Apple service (I woudn’ t like that at all).

    It is really amazing how much dirt was swept by the little brush
    of the cleaning CD! I saw it under strong light just at the side of the
    brush of the CD. I cleaned it, and it kept removing dirt after 5 or 6
    cleaning circles!

    As for the drive (Matshita DVD-R UJ-898) starting working perfectly
    even after the very first cleaning!

    Keep up the good work! Be well and happy!

    Greetings from Greece!

  35. Joel Marcey Post author

    @Alvin – I hope this fix helped you out.

    @Rodrigo – I am glad this fix solved your issue.

    @Evi – Thank you for the kind words. I am glad this worked out for you. All the best.

  36. Allen Zagel

    Hi all

    Memorex huh? I got both an iMac and MBP as well as a Mac Pro and 1 PC. I tried the Memorex in the slotted drive in my iMac and it wouldn’t work. Got an unsupported disc error message and to make matters worse it jammed and wouldn’t eject.

    I finally got it out phew! I haven’t tried it on my MBP I returned the cleaner disc to Staples. Went to Best buy and got another brand; same thing in the iMac.

    I posted on the Apple forums and got a reply from a fellow who uses the “B-Tech BIB Laser Lens Cleaner” and says it works good. I also had an old Clean Dr. cleaner that worked on the iMac as well.

    Googling the Bib, seems to show it’s only available in the UK so I emailed the USA office. Waiting for a reply.

    I’m not ruling out that the problem might be with the drive but it plays CD/DVDs fine and burns just fine as well.

    FIY
    Regards
    Allen

  37. Peter

    it’s wonderfully refreshing to see such a constructive help blog. cheers to joel.
    i have a macbook pro 2.5 dual from 2008 and as of a few hours ago, CD’s no longer mount. DVD’s do, however. tomorrow i’ll head to buy a cleaning disc and hope to have the same results as many of you have had.

  38. Stephen

    Thank you to everyone who has posted their stories on this topic. I was worried I was going to have to pay a service fee to a local shop just to confirm that the drive was bad, or that I had some bizarre software issue (many Mac users on the Apple forums seem to think this is an issue). I now feel confident that I can safely try this out!

  39. Judzia

    I have a 2006 MB. It will no load CD’s or DVD’s. Any idea what the problem might be and how can I fix it? Thanks JD

  40. Joel Marcey Post author

    @Peter – Thanks! I hoped it worked out for you.

    @Stephen – I hoped your issue was fixed.

    @Judzia – I am not sure why your MB won’t load a CD or DVD. On the surface, that sounds like a hardware mechanism problem vs. something that this blog article might fix. But, without knowing all the details, that is only a guess.

  41. Kerridge.

    Hi guys. ’09 macbook pro, superdrive stopped working altogether a couple of months ago. iStore price, ( R2000 South Africa, $240) which is steep compared to a PC replacement. So optic cleaner went onto list of things to do tomorrow.
    In the meantime i came across another method of cleaning the lens, which if one was not careful would probably destroy the assy. Place a piece of soft, lintless cloth over a stiff business card and slowly slide it into the dvd slot on the left side , several times.
    It took a couple of minutes and worked like a charm.. saved R2000. Will buy an optic cleaner anyway for future use and i think, safer use. My contact at the iStore must have known how to remedy this, but said nothing. Mmmm.
    Thanks Joel.

  42. Simone

    Fantastic suggestion. I was about to take my MacBook Pro to the Apple Store to have the drive replaced. Creme to your page thought I would give it a shot. The cost of the lens cleaner at $10.00 is nominal as compared to replacement. I told myself that if it didn’t work, I could use it on my DVD player.

    I had to insert the cleaner disk a few times and on the fourth, iTunes opened!

    Thank you very much for sharing this great tip!

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