All kinds of tips all around CD-ROM drives


Sometimes CD-ROM drives can be an awfully annyoing part of a computer. But they can also be extremely handy. The following article is trying to show you a few ways to avoid trouble with your CD-ROM drives and how you can exploit them even more.

CD-ROM sleep delays

Let me start with the annoying sides first. You all know it: There's that CD lying in the drive for the past 2 days, since you got that new game or application and now your Mac is spinning up the CD-ROM drive every time you open a save/load dialog or something similar. Of course the CD-ROM powered down and the spin up for the drive takes about 15 seconds, during which you can't do anything.

There are two ways how you can avoid the wait:
A: for CDs that you need mounted on the desktop, for example because of pirate protection, you can either create a CD image on the HD and mount it from there, for example using Apple's DiskCopy, or if that doesn't work for you, you can also try to install and old, slow 2-6x speed CD-ROM drive. Spin-up time is extremely short for these drives.

B: For CD-ROMs that you actually don't need constantly, the easiest way is to simply eject it and only insert it when you need it again. Believe me, this can be as fast as the spin-up from a sleeping drive.

Read errors/failures

This problem occurs either with CD-R or CR-RW media, or with scratched CD-ROMs.
Again there are a few solutions that may help you out.

A: Scratches can sometimes be corrected to a readable level by using a very gentle furniture polish on the disk. Of course the liquid has to be translucent and may not contain any granlulates for improved "peeling" effect or so. Just an oily shine liquid may help though. Otherwise, there are also specialized tools to repolish scratched CDs, one known by the name of "GameDoctor". However these things are usually more expensive than buying two games again.

B: Bleached or slightly scratched CD-ROM and CD-R media can usually be read in old SCSI CD-ROM drives with low reading speeds. SCSI drives generally have better error correction than the cheaper IDE drives and the low spinning speed also further reduces read errors. You might also try to read such disks in your CD-Recorder, if you have one, as they also have better error correction and usually also lower speeds.

C: If you scratched a CD-RW disk, or if it isn't readable for any other reason, you'll most likely have to dump it. Old drives don't read CD-RW media, because they're not compatible, and the new ones who do, will most likely not read it either, if your CD-Rom or DVD-ROM can't read it.

Additional drives

This is oen of the real benefits of the Mac: It can have mutliple CD-ROMs attached and installed, without requiring more than one driver. What might an extra drive be good for though?
Well, no matter what kidn of drive it is, the more CD-ROMs you have installed, the better for you. Even if it's only a 2x drive, it can prove to be so useful. I'll illustrate this by using my machine as an example:

My main CD-ROM is a 32x IDE drive that came out of a G4 (used to be the original 24x drive before), I use this for installation, cd burning (mainly audio extraction) and for the apps who actually need the disk to read data off (not the ones who just check for the disk once and then forget it). My second drive is a 4x/2x/6x SCSI CD-Recorder. This one is nice for reading disks that have some trouble,as well as for CDs that have to be present all the time (Unreal Tournament CD for example is required to play). Of course I also use it to actually burn my audio mixes and to backup my data.
Last but not least I recently also got an external Apple CD 300e drive (SCSI, 2x speed). Hooked up to the Macs analog audio in port (the RCA-in on my AV Mac), this is just a wonderful CD player. Listen to your favorite CD without wasting diskspace and CPU time for MP3 files, while still being able to ahev 2 other CDs mounted on the desktop, this seriously rocks. Of course this thing can also be used for all the other tasks, but I wouldn't want to install a modern game from a 2x drive.

Other tips

Selecting a removable disk and pressing command-Y will put it away. For CD-ROMs this will eject them, other disks may be ejected and only be grayed out, not removed from the desktop.
Pressing command-E will eject and remove any selected disk.
Of course you can also drag the icon of a disk to the trash to eject and remove it, but if you didn't know that before, you're most certainly a bit lost here:)

Most of these tips also apply for DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM and DVD-R drives of course.

Well, that's it already, I hope you could use one tip or the other.

Happy working!

Text: © by G-News, Feb. 2001, all trademarks are property of their respective owners.