You are thinking of installing a new DVD drive for your computer. There are a ton of options available, and the terminology can get a bit confusing. With the introduction to the world of Blu-ray drives, there are more alternatives than ever before. Luckily, once you choose your drive, it should only take a few minutes to install.
Method 1 of 3: Choose the Right Drive
Step 1. Know the different formats
There are a variety of confusing formats for DVD drives, including DVD, DVD + R, DVD-R, DVD +/- R, DVD +/- RW. These all refer to the different read and write capabilities of the drive. Generally, all new drives today will be DVD +/- RW or DVD RW only. This indicates that it can read DVDs, as well as write to all types of recordable DVD discs.
Most newer drives can write, although you can buy inexpensive drives that only read DVDs. These are labeled as DVD-ROM drives
Step 2. Determine if you want a Blu-ray drive
Blu-ray is the newest form of disc storage on the market, and it can store significantly more data than a standard DVD drive. Blu-ray drives allow you to watch HD Blu-ray movies and read data Blu-ray discs, and all Blu-ray drives also read DVDs.
- Blu-ray drives have dropped in price significantly, and Blu-ray recorders are now much more affordable.
- Even if the Blu-ray drive won't write (BD-ROM), chances are good that it will write DVD.
Step 3. Compare the read and write speeds
When looking at different models, it will be convenient to compare the read and write speeds. These tell you how long it will take to read and write various types of media to the drive.
Most newer DVD drives will read at 16X and write at up to 24X. These measurements indicate how fast the drive is than a 1X drive, and are not a measure of actual read or write speed
Step 4. Decide between internal and external
If you use a laptop, you will probably need to buy an external drive. If you're using a desktop computer, you can generally choose either, but you'll get better read and write performance with an internal drive.
If you decide to buy an external drive, you can skip to Part 3 to find details on how to install the drivers
Step 5. Choose a quality unit
Look for units from trusted manufacturers. This will help ensure that the unit lasts a long time and you get a solid warranty. Below are some of the most trusted optical drive manufacturers:
Step 6. Consider an OEM model
If you have extra SATA cables lying around to install the drive, and you don't mind not having the manuals and driver disks, you may want to consider an OEM model. These are typically cheaper than a consumer model, but they lack any of the supplements in the package.
If you buy an OEM model, you can find the drivers and documentation for the drive on the manufacturer's website
Method 2 of 3: Install an internal drive
Step 1. Turn off the power to the computer and disconnect all cables
You will need to access the inside of the computer to install the drive. For easier installation, move the computer to a location that allows you easy access to the cabinet, such as a table.
If you install an external drive, connect it to your computer via USB and skip to the next section
Step 2. Open the cabinet
Most newer cabinets have thumb screws along the back that allow you to quickly remove the panels. If you don't have thumb screws, you will need a Phillips screwdriver. Pull out the panels on both sides so that you can access the drive tray on each side.
Step 3. Ground yourself
Before working inside the computer, it is always wise to ground yourself. This will help prevent electrostatic discharge from damaging delicate computer components. The ideal way to ground yourself is to connect an electrostatic bracelet to the cabinet. If you don't have a bracelet, tap a metal faucet to discharge any static buildup.
Step 4. Take out the old drive (if necessary)
If you are replacing an old drive, you will need to remove it before installing the new one. Disconnect the cables from the back of the drive, and then remove the screws on each side of the drive. Push the unit slightly from behind and then remove it from the front of the cabinet.
Step 5. Locate an empty 5.25 "drive tray
If you are not replacing an old drive, you will need to locate an empty tray. These are generally located at the front of the cabinet, towards the top. Maybe you already have a unit or two in this area. Pull out the front panel to expose the tray.
Step 6. Attach the rails (if necessary)
Some cabinets use rails to secure the unit to the cabinet. If this is the case, the rails will need to be attached to each side of the unit before inserting it into the cabinet.
Step 7. Slide the drive over the front of the computer
Most drives insert through the front of the computer, although you may need to review your computer's documentation. Make sure to insert the drive with the correct side up.
Step 8. Secure the unit
If you are securing with screws, you will need to use two screws on each side. Make sure to secure the unit on both sides of the cabinet. If you are using rails, make sure the unit is fully seated and the clips are in place.
Step 9. Connect the SATA port on the motherboard
Use the included SATA data cable, or use yours if the drive didn't come with one in the package. Connect it to the next empty SATA port on the motherboard. Check your motherboard documentation if you can't find the SATA ports on the motherboard.
- The SATA data cable can only be inserted one way into the drive and the motherboard. Don't force the connection.
- Be careful not to disconnect any other components, such as the hard drive, or the computer will not boot.
Step 10. Connect the power supply to the unit
Look for a power connector coming out of the computer's power supply. This is generally located at the bottom of the cabinet. Plug the power cord into the power slot on the back of the unit. Like the data cable, the power cable can only be inserted one way, so don't force it.
If you don't have a power connector available, you can purchase an adapter that can provide additional connectors
Step 11. Reassemble the computer and turn it back on
Close the cabinet, return it to its position, and reconnect the cables. Turn on the computer.
Method 3 of 3: Install the Drivers and Software
Step 1. Wait for the operating system to detect the drive
Most operating systems will automatically detect the new DVD drive. Drivers for the drive are usually installed automatically. The operating system will inform you when the installation is complete.
Step 2. Install the drivers from the included disc (if necessary)
If the drive did not install itself, you may need to install the drivers that came with it or that you downloaded from the manufacturer. Follow the prompts to install the drivers. You may be asked to restart your computer after installation.
Step 3. Install any built-in programs, such as media recording or playback software
Many drives come with built-in software that allows you to burn blank DVD media, or watch HD videos. Neither of these are necessary, as there are free equivalents available online, but you can install them if you wish.