CD or DVD disk not recognized by Windows XP

Sometimes I've had problems installing games or programs that use multiple installation disks.  For example, when the program prompts for the second CD disk, I insert it and click OK.  Out of the blue, a warning message appears saying something like "You didn't put in the right disk, Dummy!!! Try again!"  Sometimes removing the disk and reinserting it works.  Sometimes if the disk is dirty giving it a wipe with gentle cleaner such as eyeglass cleaner will work.

(Note:  There is a short discussion of AutoPlay and Auto Insert Notification at the end of this article.  These two features, included in Windows 95 and up, let Explorer know when a new disk is inserted in your CD or DVD drive... or not!  There is a repair further down this page.)

This problem is most frequent with PC game installations...

Honestly, I install (and often uninstall) dozens of programs a year and I have rarely had a CD or DVD disk problem... except with games!  From extensive reading, the common thread is copy-protection schemes can, on some computers, have the unintended consequence of preventing proper installation.

Sometimes no simple solution works!

After lots of searching online and many trials and errors, I have found two solutions that seems to work almost all the time!!  Best of all, neither requires a registry change.

Solution 1:  Restart Windows Explorer To Recognize A Disk Change

Basically, you "reboot" Windows Explorer so it "forgets" what the last disk was so you can change disks.  This is done within Windows Task Manager.  Because you are not making registry changes, there should be no negative impact on your computer if this does not work.  However, you might notice that, upon restarting Windows Explorer, some icons are temporarily missing from the System Tray.  These programs are most likely still running in the background.  A full reboot will restore them.

OR GAME INSTALLATION!!  If you do you'll lose everything!!

1)Remove all disks from all drives.

2) Click good old Control-Alt-Delete to bring up Windows Task Manager

3) Click on the PROCESSES tab and find EXPLORER.EXE.  Click once to highlight it and then click END PROCESS at the bottom.  This will clear all the information cached from your disk drives but will leave all your installation files (and everything else) alone.

4) You must restart EXPLORER to continue the installation. To do this, click on FILE,  then NEW TASK.

5) In the little window that appears, type EXPLORER.EXE and click OK.  Your taskbar will reappear and now the disk drive will (or should... we're talking Windows here!) recognize the new disk when you insert it. 

You might have to do this for each disk or just one or two.  You might also have to redo this procedure more than once for it to work.


This takes longer, depending on your computer's speed, but is more effective because you are eliminating the need for disk changing while installing the program.

As I said, games are copy-protected to prevent you from running them without having the original disk.  This is supposed to prevent more than one person from using the same game on multiple computers.  However, there is no reason why you can't install from your hard drive.  After installation, you will need to insert one of the disks into the drive so the copy protection will allow you to play.  This is typically the first or the last disk.

Copying the disks is simple.  Just open Windows Explorer and create folders somewhere on your hard drive, wherever convenient.  Label them whatever... Disk 1, Disk 2, etc.  Insert the game disks, one by one, in your drive.  Once windows recognizes the disk (you will not have a copy protection problem as long as you don't start the installation.), simply copy all files from the CD (or DVD) to the appropriate new folder.  (If the game's installation program starts when the disk is inserted, cancel it before starting to copy.)

Once the copying is complete, navigate to the first disk folder and click SETUP.EXE or AUTORUN.EXE to start the installation.  When prompted to insert the next disk, simply navigate to the next folder (disk 2), etc., till the installation is complete.

At the end of the installation, you will need to insert a disk into the drive to run the game OR to finish the installation.

Related Problems with Autoplay and Auto Insert Notification

Auto Insert Notification is a behind-the-scenes process that lets Windows Explorer know you have put a new disk in your CD or DVD drive.  Unlike Windows 95 and 98, Windows XP does not have user control over Auto Insert Notification... it is always on and that's it!  Of course, that assumes that it always works, which YOU know it doesn't or you wouldn't be here!

In XP, you do have control over AutoPlay... the "feature" that not only lets your machine know what is in the CD or DVD but allows you to decide what happens depending on the file type on the disk... run it, play it, show the files or just SHUT UP!!

Unfortunately, the settings can get mucked up, making your drives ornery and insensitive.  Rather than fight with them, the easiest thing is to use the Microsoft Autoplay Repair Wizard.  It doesn't appear to reset everything to a virgin state... it just makes sure that the existing settings are obeyed!!

Good luck!!!


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