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How to Install or add an Optical Drive (CD/DVD Drives) to your Computer

Illustrated guide to help install a CD/DVD Writer drive

The most common reason for installing an optical drive such as a CD writer or DVD writer is because they are so affordable. At under £20 you can buy a DVD writer which can write at a reasonably fast speed, also write to CDs and allow you to easily expand your system and take backups or create disks. Every system can benefit from having a CD/DVD writer installed as they are so easy to use and have a number of practical uses.

Power down your PC and switch it off at the wall. Remove the screws holding the sides of the case on and carefully slide off both panels.

Install CD/DVD Writer first remove the side of your caseWearing an anti-static wristband is preferable whenever working with sensitive electrical equipment. Keeping one hand on a metal part of the case will have the same effect, though you may need both hands when installing certain items of hardware.

If you are installing a new drive, locate an empty 5.25" bay and remove the front blanking panel from the case. The majority are secured by clips, though others require additional force to remove them. Some machines will also have a metal plate behind the plastic cover which must be removed. Care should be taken as these can often leave behind sharp edges.

However, if you are replacing a drive, you will not need to prepare a new drive bay. Instead, you can simply remove the IDE ribbon cable and power connector from the old drive, unscrew it from the cage and carefully slide the device out through the front of the case. You can then install your new drive in the same bay.

Check jumper settings for your CD or DVD driveNext, remove your new drive from its anti-static bag. You will now need to check the jumper settings, which will depend on whether this will be the primary or slave drive on the IDE channel. If you are replacing your drive, it is likely that this is the master drive, though if you are adding a second drive, it is more likely the new drive will be the slave. Jumpers are small plastic connectors that fit over an array of pins located on the back of the drive.

Sliding the CD or DVD Drive into your chosen bayThe position of the jumper relative to the pins determines whether the drive is master or slave, and a sticker on the drive itself should inform you of which pins to connect.

Next, slide the drive into the bay through the front of the case.

If you have hidden drive bays, you will need to slide the drive in enough to allow you to fit the front plates. Otherwise, slide the drive in until it sits level with the front of the case.

Next, plug in the sound cable from your sound card if you intend to use the drive to play audio CD's, along with the IDE ribbon cable and molex power connector. If the drive is set to master, you need to plug the end connector of the IDE cable into the drive, though if it is the slave, you will need to use the middle connector.

Check the connections sit firmly, then boot your machine up. It can be worth leaving the case off for the time being to ensure the drive functions correctly.

Now connect the power and data cables to your CD or DVD DriveThe drive should be recognised at POST and in Windows. If it is not, turn off your machine and check the jumpers and cable connections before trying it again.

Finally, replace the sides of your case and install any additional software that came with your drive, such as DVD playing or burning software.