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Dunno how to even frame this question...

I used to have this issue earlier with CD-drives of yore.. where certain CDs couldn't be read by older drives (I think the discs were recorded with >8x speed). Now I'm seeing this issue with my trusty DVD drive (which has served me well for 2-3 years). It still can read DVDs that I burned as backup (in short it works) - however every now and then I get a DVD (usually ones that come bundled with tech magazines) that my drive doesn't 'see'. It freezes up for a while and then either it shows up blank or asks you to insert a DVD.

Usually I just take the DVD to my relatively newer work laptop and sure enough the DVDs are fine - so I copy then over to a USB drive and then back to my primary machine. This has been annoying me no end..

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As Timotei mentioned, sometimes a firmware update can help, however it could be anything from a dirty lens to the degradation of the drive itself.

I had a similar problem with my late 2006 MacBook Pro a while back: gradually, it would stop reading certain DVDs, then all DVDs, then certain CDs, then showing full CDs as blank, and so on until the drive stopped functioning completely (turns out the drive was faulty to begin with, but it had only become more apparent as time passed).

In any event, I would certainly try simpler, more cost-effective solutions (like a lens-cleaning disc) before resorting to a new drive.

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I would except for the fact, that all the older DVDs/CDs work just fine on my drive... It's like the newer ones use some recording mechanism that the drive can't read. – Gishu Dec 15 '09 at 8:20

Just try to update your firmware. I got one time an issue like yours and worked after update

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