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A CD disc explodes inside a machine! Now, how do you find out how much damage it has done?

I have an eMachine about 8 months old. I put a game CD in it to play. Before I could do anything, the CD exploded inside the CD/DVD drive. After we cleaned out all the tiny particles of pieces of disc out of the computer, the computer won't do anything. What could cause this or are eMachines lemons?

In this excerpt from Answercast #18, I look at the 'Case of the Exploding CD' and some steps to get that machine operating again.


So, certainly eMachines are not lemons. They are fine machines. They're not my favorite, but they're okay machines. I certainly wouldn't call it a lemon based on your experience.

What's happened is actually, kind of, an interesting thing that does happen from time to time.

CD drives have gotten to the point where they spin discs so fast that a disc that is damaged or weak can in fact, occasionally explode within the drive.

CD explosion

What probably happened here is that you may have cleaned out all the pieces, but during that little explosion, one of the pieces may have cut a cable; it may have bounced a connector so that the connector is no longer properly connected. There may be a metal substrate on that CD that's now causing a short somewhere on your machine.

There are lots of reasons that the explosion of the CD in your drive could cause your machine, your entire machine, to become inoperable.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to really diagnose.

It's one of those situations where I think that you're either:

  • Going to have to do something like start replacing components until it works. I would start with those components that are physically near the CD drive in that machine: potentially the motherboard.


  • Go out and find yourself a technician who is willing to spend a little bit of time looking at the machine to see if he can determine what components aren't working, what it is that's preventing the machine from working at all.

Article C5358 - May 17, 2012 « »

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.

Not what you needed?

AG Wright
May 17, 2012 3:10 PM

I'd certainly try unplugging the drive, removing it and thoroughly blowing out the interior of the computer.

May 18, 2012 8:39 AM

While everything Leo explained is obviously right on, I would agree with AG Wright. As a first step, I would unplug that drive and, carefully, use compressed air to clean out the case. As an I/T support professional, I would also try removing and reseating every plug and chip in the entire box. In the process, I would inspect each one for signs of damage. I could do this entire process in a half-hour or less and bet you could, too.

Ken B
May 18, 2012 10:59 AM

As long as you're removing the CD drive (and I, too, recommend this, based on the fact that a CD "exploded" inside of it), try using the computer while the drive is physically removed from the computer. If it works then, but not once you replace the drive, the drive may be shot and needs to be replaced. But, at least you'll know the rest of the computer is working.

May 18, 2012 4:17 PM

Maybe you are a Mission Impossible agent.

"This CD will self-destruct in 5 seconds.. Good luck."

May 18, 2012 5:18 PM

When you are blowing it out, it also helps if you have the machine turned upside down. That way the loose piece fall down and out rather than getting jammed into some tight spot in the case.

Upside down and SHAKE works really well to get cookie crumbs and dust bunnies out of keyboards, but I wouldn't do it with a computer.

May 18, 2012 10:32 PM

If as you say the computer does nothing and removing the drive doesn't help, try a different power supply as this going faulty in curtain ways can be the cause of the CD drive reaching speeds it was not designed to do and discs to shatter.

May 19, 2012 9:28 AM

Re: EXPLODING CD'S (disks and drives)
I HAVE heard of this happening ......

Matter of fact I was just reminded of this from a friend of mine "across the pond" in England.

What happens in MANY what known as "micro cracks" .. especially around the the center hub of the CD.. (most notably "cheap" CD's or if you are using them in a laptop and/or have to "click" them into place)

Because the drives tend to "spin up" so fast those "micro cracks" expand ( like the freeze thaw" concept with roads or concrete) after a while it WILL "fault" (in this case explode).

Which is why *I* always try to inspect .. check Cd's (R, RW , DVD, etc.) before I try to burn or play it in my system due to the fact even in packaging things can get "mucked up" and flaws do happen.

Yeah its an extra step but it well worth it to avoid an "explosion" :)
~Just some advice

May 24, 2012 6:37 PM

I'm not sure I agree with your comment about eMachines not being lemons. My Windows 98 machine was an eMachines. I went through 3 power supplies in about 5 years. The problem is that the generic power supply didn't fit into the case so I had to buy eMachines own power supplies, which kept failing.

Lemons might be too strong of a word, but it has made me think twice about spending money on another eMachine.

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