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DVD Region Codes are intended to restrict where a DVD can be played. Computer DVD drives can sometimes alter region codes, but only a few times.

I am in England so when I played an English DVD, the region changed. But now I want to watch American DVDs so I need to change it back. But when I put the DVD in, the change the region prompt doesn't come up. I went through the device manager to try to change the DVD, but when I press ok to have it changed to region one, it says:

"Unable to update region settings. Please make sure the drive contains a region 1 media and you have administration privilege."

I have never had a problem with administration privilege before, so how do I fix this? And how do I change the DVD region? I am sure I have administration privilege, it's my computer.

DVD region coding is one of the most controversial aspects of commercial DVD production. It's trying to solve a problem, doing it poorly, and as a result consumers are once again stuck in the middle, getting burned.

Yes, I think that things are much worse than you imagine.

Region codes define the area of the world that a DVD is "allowed" to be played in. Regular DVD players are encoded with the region code that they're targeted for, so when you put the two together - DVD's coded for region 1 (North America), can only be played on a player purchased in North America. Send it to your family overseas, and they'll not be able to view it.

The stated "reason" is copy protection, and the fact that movies may be released in one country on DVD before it's finished playing in theaters elsewhere in the world. Being able to ship the DVDs to that country could cannibalize theater attendance. I don't buy it, myself, but that's at least part of the thinking.

I ran into this exact scenario you're facing some years ago when a relative of mine in Holland sent me a commercial DVD of the Dutch royal family. I couldn't view it, since I live in a different region code than the DVD was targeted for.

Very frustrating.

"...if the region code can be changed at all, it can only be changed a small number of times..."

With the advent of DVD players in PC's, things got even more interesting. Like stand-alone DVD players, DVD drives are initially configured to a specific region code as well. However unlike they standalone players, the region code can be changed.

This, of course, defeats the purpose of region codes all together.

So, DVD player manufacturers set a compromise: if the region code can be changed at all, it can only be changed a small number of times; usually something like 5. After the 5th region code change, it can no longer be changed at all.

Very frustrating. Again.

And that's where I believe you are. This isn't about administrative privileges, it's about having exceeded the number of times you can reset the region code on your drive.

And to the best of my knowledge there's no legal way to circumvent it with that single drive.

If this is something you do often, perhaps it's worth installing a second DVD drive, configuring it to the "other" region code. Watch region 1 DVDs in one drive, and region 2 DVDs in the other.

You'll note that also defeats the purpose of region codes, and that's one of the reasons I thing it's such a poorly considered approach.

There are illegal solutions - such as ripping the DVD contents to your hard disk, which I'm lead to believe will remove the region code. With enough space on your hard disk (not uncommon these days) you can then watch the movies without the DVD player at all.

But as I said, those approaches are technically illegal in most countries.

Article C2847 - November 22, 2006 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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33 Comments
Simon
November 23, 2006 10:12 AM

If you happen to a resident of the beautiful island of Antigua, in the Leeward Islands, there is an excellent product called AnyDVD which you can purchase over the internet and subsequently download from http://www.slysoft.com/en/anydvd.html. Of course, pretty much everywhere else in the world this software is illegal; but if you happen to live in Antigua it's a great solution. They do seem to have a strangely large web presence for a company that caters solely to the population of an island less than 20 miles wide; I imagine this is due to a lack of DVD rental stores in Antigua, requiring the resident(s) to import region-encoded DVDs from elsewhere...

Thor Johnson
November 27, 2006 5:29 AM

2 Drives is definitely the "easy option".
For the more advanced:
And the worst part about it is that now that it is fixed, it is fixed for good unless you "flash" the drive's frimware. Check out http://www.vcdhelp.com for extra firmware for some drives.

And it is more insidious than that -- if the drive is operating "correctly", now that the region code is set, it will not even recognize "out of region discs", so you can't use any of the cracking programs (my favorite is DVDShrink -- freeware, works well. Not legal.)

For your next drive, if you use an illegal player (look for ones with "decss" in the description), there may be a way around setting the region # (I think windows will let you leave it unset. If you don't set it, you have to use a deCSS program to "crack" the dvd so you can view it.)

Welcome to the age of DRM -- where what you think you own and can use is subject to the whims of an external, unassailable, uncaring company....

Fats
December 14, 2006 6:24 AM

I dont play dvds on my pc so have never had to try, but cant you set the region to zero like you can do with stand alone dvd players and then be done with it?

Gabe
December 22, 2006 1:37 AM

Hey, I might have apossible solution, it worked for me. Try putting in a dvd which is not made for multiple formats (i.e. Region 1, 2, 3 etc.), for e.g. I put in a Australian comedy disc which is only made for region 4, it enabled me to change back to that region. Hope this helps. If you are having trouble finding whether a disc supports multiple regions just try experimenting with a dvd which you might think is local to your country.

asam
January 21, 2007 1:35 AM

hi
i have DRU 830A ss23 and my region is 2 and i cannot read CDRW
what is kind region Disks?and how i can know kind region Disks?
and how can reset this ?
when i burned CD RW i can,t read it.
please help me and send me email asa_dx@yahoo.com

many thanks

asam
January 21, 2007 1:37 AM

hi
i have DRU 830A ss23 and my region is 2 and i cannot read CDRW
what is kind region Disks?and how i can know kind region Disks?
and how can reset this ?
when i burned CD RW i can,t read it.
please help me and send me email asa_dx@yahoo.com

many thanks

ROZETTA BECKMAN
April 5, 2007 3:26 PM

Hi, I copied vhs tapes of my son on to dvd in the US to bring to the UK with me. It worked on the dvd player that I did it on in the US but in the UK it does not even recognize it and when I try to play it, I get a message telling me to insert a disk. I have tried changing the region but it will not let me. My son has passed away and I want to see the movies of him. Please help me. I would extremely appreciate any help you can give me. I have a MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ-841S. THE DVD is MEMOREX PRINT DVD-R THANKS!!!!

Paul
July 9, 2007 4:22 AM

I have installed a new Pioneer 212 OEM on to XP - I get the same notice when I try & change my region from the preset 2 to 4. It has never played a DVD and it tells me I still have 4 changes left.

Astrid
August 4, 2007 2:34 PM

Hi all!
In response to Paul's post... Read Gabe's post above, you have to insert the DVD you're trying to play first, then try and change the region. It worked for me, I was also getting that same "Unable to update region..." message.

Hope that helps!

loukilouk
September 11, 2007 3:19 PM

The Solution coming from IBM:

To change the region code, you must use a DVD disc that supports CSS (Content Scrambling System).

look here:
_http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?sitestyle=lenovo&lndocid=MIGR-4QEKVZ

With this way I resolved the problem with my dvdrom.

Regards

Donald
December 11, 2007 6:08 PM

My region is *1 I have never changed my region settings but it is now set on *5 region? Guess what I can't chang it to *1 a Region setting Error
pops up,do I need to replace it the cd works fine

Doug
January 17, 2008 1:39 AM

I have a Toshiba A105-S1014 laptop. I want to watch DVD's with it, but this is where the problem starts..The DVD plays fine, audio is good, but about 45 minutes to an 1 hour into the movie it starts pixeling..the audio drags..then the computer shut down. I've tried new DVD's, old ones, but I get the same results..(Dvd's are free of smudges/finger prints, and scratches, mars)
I also noted that the drive bay area is hot to the touch...What is causing my problem..any ideas?

r0lix
January 20, 2008 7:49 PM

I moved to Australia (R4) from the US (R1). I have many DVDs from both areas. I downloaded a video player called videoLAN, and with it I can watch R4 DVDs while my drive is still set R1.

Hendrik
March 19, 2008 6:13 AM

Hi I got an Acer Travelmate laptop with a Matshita dvd drive that regional setting has been changed 5 times and now I can't change it back...what can I do now?

Mohammed
March 22, 2008 3:27 AM

Try using a software called DVD Shrink to watch your DVDs on. But check if its legal to use in your respective areas.

Rocky
May 24, 2008 8:59 PM

Dell Inspiron 1526 Laptop (Windows Vista).
I just put a DVD (Region 1, I'm in the USA) for the first time. Windows Media Player said it would not play it because the DVD is region 1 and the DVD drive is set to 8. Then a window pops up to change the region. It says the CURRENT region is 2, and that I have 3 more changes. So I pick USA out of a very long list and region 1 shows up in the "change to" field. I click "change" and then get an error message... "Unable to update region settins, please make sure the drive contain region 1 media and you have administration privilege". But there is only ONE user account on the computer and it's set to administrator.
So...
1) It says I have 3 more changes.
2) A DVD that is region 1 is in the drive.
3) I'm signed into the computer with administration privilege.

Why won't it change the drive to region 1????

TIA,
Rocky

Sean
May 28, 2008 8:28 PM

I ordered a Desktop from HP about a month ago, and when I got it, it was set to region 2 even though I live in North America. In fact, the desktop, during creation and shipping never left the US but for some reason it magically was set to Region 2 when I tried to play a DVD on it. Their help website says that I need to change the DVD region code but even though I am Administrator, I do not have access.

Leah
August 5, 2008 8:23 PM

For all you Canadians who might have this problem consider this ... maybe your geographical area needs to be changed......I was trying to go back to Region 1 but kept getting the error message even though I had put in Region 1 disc & had administration privileges..... I kept trying to select CANADA but this error didn't go away. I selected UNITED STATES and it worked and set my Current Region to 1. Odd enough -- I bought this laptop in Canada but it came from the States. Thanks.

Neil
August 21, 2008 10:57 PM

Read this
http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/archive/dvdregion.mspx
Some manufacturers fix a region code in the windows registry.
Also you may be able to upgrade your firmware of your dvd drive. (it may or may not start region count again but worth a try if nothing else will work.)

Neil
August 21, 2008 11:03 PM

You can see how many changes you have remaining by doing this.
"Right Click" on "My Computer" and select "Manage".
Select "Device Manager", expand your "DVD/CD-ROM drives", "Right Click" the drive model and select "Properties" and select tab called "DVD Region".
This will show you how many "Changes Remaining" you have and give you the ability to change the region (so long as you have available changes left).

Mel
August 27, 2008 5:08 PM

Would you happen to know why my windows xp will not allow me to change my region to region 1, considering that I am the administrator of my own computer? My computer is disallowing me from changing my region to region 1, saying that I am not the administrator. I've set the admin to be me in my control panel. Any solutions???

zia
October 5, 2008 12:56 AM

my dvd drive has fixt to region 3 how con i chang to 6 or 1

Sid
November 20, 2008 3:06 PM

This is the answer: "Hi all!
In response to Paul's post... Read Gabe's post above, you have to insert the DVD you're trying to play first, then try and change the region. It worked for me, I was also getting that same "Unable to update region..." message."

Thanks very much, Gabe!

Deb
May 1, 2009 2:16 PM

I am unable to use my DVD player.

You can see how many changes you have remaining by doing this.
"Right Click" on "My Computer" and select "Manage".
Select "Device Manager", expand your "DVD/CD-ROM drives", "Right Click" the drive model and select "Properties" and select tab called "DVD Region".
This will show you how many "Changes Remaining" you have and give you the ability to change the region (so long as you have available changes left).

When I did this, it read:

DVD Region Change Error
unable to update region setting. Please make sure the drive contains a region 1 media and you have admintration privilege.

I have downloaded many DVD software and I still cannot open any DVD because of decoder error.

Joseph
May 4, 2009 5:47 PM

I see numerous comments without solutions or with solutions that are not working. Is there in fact a solution that will allow me to change my region settings back to the US ? I was in Rome and switched it so that I could view dvds that I purchased in Italy. I would be happy to upload another dvd player if that will work, although it seems that I have 3 presently giving me the same region issue. Any recommendations on what dvd driver to upload ?

notwork
May 19, 2009 7:06 PM

NEED REGION CHANGE FROM 1 TO 4

EVERY TIME I TRY IT SAYS UNABLE TO UPDATE REGION SETTINGS. PLEASE MAKE SURE THE DRIVE CONTAINS A REGION 4 MEDIA AND YOU HAVE ADMINISTRATION PRIVILEGE

merso
July 29, 2009 5:47 AM

If you do not want to change the region code on your Mac according to different region DVD, the best choice would be having an external driver. So your copy software must support external driver.
As I know, Mac DVD Copy Pro support external driver.

sanjun
August 7, 2009 2:00 AM


An error may occur when playing a DVD disc with a region code,Here I would like to tell you How to PLay Different Region DVD Movies on Mac.

--

Bob
February 24, 2010 3:24 AM

I know this probably will not help anyone who has used up all their changes, but I did hear from a friend that it is possible to set up hardware profiles which included the DVD drive settings - one for Region 1, one for Region 2.
Sinse neither 'setup' strictly changes the region setting of the drive (past the initial of course), you can swap freely between them - as long as you check which region you need before booting up.
Is there any truth in this?

Bob
February 24, 2010 3:34 AM

The main reason I own both region 1 and region 2 DVD's is that some things don't even see a release in a particular region, or are radically different from one region to the next. With the increase in internet shopping, it is very easy to order things like DVD's from other countries.

As a side note, most commercially available stand-alone DVD players (at least in the UK) ignore the Region code now, or can be easily set that way.
I know the last three DVD players I have bought will play region 1 and 2 without modification.

Bob
March 1, 2010 4:31 AM

I have discovered a program which will play DVD's without checking the region information - VLC Media Player.
I happened to try to watch a DVD last night, and got the wrong region warning from Windows Media Player. I then used VLC to 'open' the DVD, and it played without incident.
Just thought I'd share my discovery.

XDarkPhoenixX
May 13, 2011 11:01 PM

I Fixed this Problem. Without any programs. What you need is a region 4 ONLY dvd. Usually Dvds can be played in multiple regions I.e 2 and 4.
What you need is a dvd that is only region 4. When Windows media player open and says to change the region, if the only region suggested to be change to is 4 it should work. But if it says change to either 2 or 4 it wont work.

Ldk
September 6, 2011 4:22 PM

Certain media players will ignore DVD regions. For example, VLC will let you play any region DVD no matter what region your drive is set to. The best part is, it's free! It's quite well known too and it plays an enormous variety of formats so there are other benefits of having it.

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