Help! I Can’t Play DVDs On My Computer

Joe from Wisconsin is having some trouble with watching DVD’s on his computer.  He writes “I have a DVD problem,maybe you can help.  I’m running Vista with 64 bit,on a HP.  When I insert the DVD into the slider,I can hear something running but I ‘m not able to open or play the DVD.  I have had Silverlight installed and it worked until just a short time ago.  I’m stumped, Any help would be appreciated .”

Hi, Joe!  Thanks for the great question.

When you say “it worked until just a short time ago”, do you mean that you were able to watch DVD’s until a short time ago, or your Silverlight worked until a short time ago?  If you mean that you were able to watch DVD’s until a short time ago, it could be that your drive has simply gone bad and needs to be replaced.  I do have some other options for you, though.

If you mean that your Silverlight has stopped working, and that you haven’t watched DVD’s on your computer before, the first thing that you need to check is to make sure that you’ve got a DVD drive instead of a CD drive.  Although most modern computers don’t have a logo embossed on the drive door (the drives have just become too small to display them), there is a way to check on your computer.

First, you need to click on your START button, and then on CONTROL PANEL.  (Note:  A shortcut to what I’m showing you here is to enter the words DEVICE MANAGER into the search box, and then click on the device manager to open it.)


Once your control panel is open, click on SYSTEM AND MAINTENANCE.


From there, click on DEVICE MANAGER from the list.


From the list here, find the entry for DVD/CD drives and click on the arrow to the left of it to expand the list.  If it is a DVD drive, it will say DVD RAM or ROM.  CD will say CD RAM or ROM.


If it says CD, then your computer isn’t capable of running DVD’s.  You can buy external DVD drives for your computer that run through USB.  You can also swap out your internal CD drive for a DVD drive yourself if you know how, or take it to your friendly neighborhood computer geek to do it for you.

If it says “DVD”, then you can try updating your driver.  From the same screen, right-click on your DVD drive and click on UPDATE DRIVER SOFTWARE.  Click on the top option to have your computer search the internet for the latest driver software.  Follow the instructions and you’ll get the latest driver update for your drive.

I know that this is going to sound stupid, but if this doesn’t work, and you’ve only tried one DVD, then try another one.  If the other one works, then clean the first one by using a soft cloth to wipe the entire disc, starting at the center and wiping toward the edge instead of radially, because if you wipe a disc radially, even with a soft cloth, may scratch it.

The other thing to check is to make sure that the disc that you’re trying to play isn’t a Blu-ray.  Look for this logo on the disc:


If it’s a Blu-ray, then it won’t play unless you have a Blu-ray drive on your machine.  The designation for this in your device manager will be BD ROM or RAM.

So… if all of this checks out, if you have a DVD drive and you’ve tried several DVD’s and updated your device drivers and nothing works… sorry, it may just be time for a new drive.

Also, if you’re running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, there isn’t a built-in program to play DVD movies. You’ll need to download one.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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