Let me see if I can answer everything...
Was the computer "using" the dvd drive?
I highly doubt it. After I tried the driver update the computer restarted and the light continuously flickered as long as the computer was powered on, with no spinning noises or other indicators of the computer trying to access the drive.
I would say first check all of your connections (power and data)
make sure for the data cable, you follow it back to the motherboard and make sure it is securely attached...
I've tried this quite a few times. My only concern is actually the nagging OCD fear I have every time of not properly securing it the last time! Which is how I really feel now as, since I wrote the original post, the light has stopped flickering at all.
if that doesn't work, I would find out the brand of the drive "written" on it...
Then go to the manufactures website to find the drivers...
I've tried it through Dell, which was my first mistake. I will try it through Samsung right after I finish writing this and let you know how it goes.
It is also possible "somehow" the optical drive was disabled in the BIOS...
you could enter the BIOS and look for the boot order. See if the CD\DVD rom has been disable, if so enable it and save the change...
BUT don't do anything else in there only check that...
I have meddled with the BIOS settings before, it's not that. In fact the BIOS used to have the D: drive as "CD-RW/DVD-ROM (Not Installed). Now it is simply "Unknown Device."
If all else fails you could but a new one cheap less than $30 at NEWEGG
Yeah, I just don't want to buy one and then have it not be a hardware issue, you know? Also since this is one of the first "slim" case designs (it's a hair thicker than my XBox360, about an inch larger in each direction, which for 2003 wasn't so bad) it will probably need a very particular drive to maintain compatibility or worse, have the same problem as the current one. I'm actually leaning towards replacing the IDE cables first before giving in to buying a new drive or hassling Dell for one from their boneyard.
Is the drive seen in My Computer at all?
If the drive is seen and the problem is as you described then it is most likely the drive is failing or has failed.
This is what leads me to believe that it's a soft/firmware issue rather than a hardware failure. My biggest fear is that I'm facing a chicken-egg dilemma: XP is screwed up to where the D: drive cannot make contact with Windows anymore, but I can't use the D: drive to fix XP! It's things like this that made me switch to Apple in '05, but that's a whole other story...
1. Uninstall the drive through Device Manager.
Restart computer. The drive will be automatically reinstalled.
The drive itself does not appear in Device Manager. I could uninstall the Secondary IDE Channel but I don't know if this is what you are suggesting?
The "filters" never once appeared in my Registry (I saw this fix before coming to the forum), so it is not this.
3. Download, and run Restore Missing CD Drive patch
Double click on cdgone.zip to unzip it.
Right click on cdgone.reg, click Merge.
Accept registry merge.
Had a lot of hope for this one since it was new to me, but I did this and it has produced no difference.
4. Go to Device Manager, click a "+" sign next to IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers.
You'll see two items:
- ATA Channel0 (or Primary Channel)
- ATA Channel1 (or Secondary Channel)
Right click on each of them, and click Uninstall. Confirm.
Restart Windows. They'll be automatically reinstalled.
I will try this one first before I try the Samsung drivers. This is my last best hope, unless someone else comes up with any better ideas.
Thanks to both of you, I really appreciate the help regardless of outcome.