Playing new DVDs on old (computer) DVD drives.

I found that my DVD of “The Cabin in the Woods” (a new release) would not play in either of the DVD drives in my older computer. Yet it played fine in the DVD drive in my newer computer. My old computer drives use the old IDE interface while the new one uses SATA.

My Google skills have determined that this might be the issue with this DVD, but I haven’t found a solution. Is there a way to make my old IDE DVD drives compatible with these new SATA-only DVDs?

the age of the drives and their capabilities is the issue not the interface type.

Concur that it’s not likely to be a serial/parallel issue with the ATA interface.

I would try a firmware upgrade (or even just flashing it with the same version if there’s no newer version available).

The first thing I would suspect in a PC DVD drive is the region setting. People love to go playing about with that and some drives will only let you change it so many times.

I’ve never messed with the region settings on either DVD drive. Both drives have played recent releases just fine up until the “The Cabin in the Woods” DVD. I’ll look into the firmware upgrade angle.

Does the disk get mounted correctly so you can see the files on it in?

If so, I’m pretty sure it’s not a problem with the drive itself, I’m guessing it’s some newfangled copy protection that requires either a firmware upgrade to the drive, or an upgrade to whatever application you use to play DVD movies.

The DVD is unseen by the (older) LiteOn DVD drive. It is recognized by the Sony Dual RW Drive, but will not play at all with Windows Media Player or VLC. It plays in a very slow and pixelated form in ALShow, not watchable.

On the old computer, try holding down shift as you insert the disc into the drive and then playing it as normal. It’s a long shot, but some discs use copy protection that autorun when you insert the disc … maybe that has something to do with it?

Do you have movie player software of some sort on that old computer?

Yes, as mentioned above, Windows Media Player, VLC Player and ALShow are all installed.

Also, as mentioned, it’s just this new DVD, “The Cabin in the Woods”, that is unplayable. But if, as suggested above, the issue is caused by newly developed copy protection, this means that I may encounter more DVDs in the future that will not play on this computer’s DVD drives.

DVD drives & set-top players were notorious for early incompatibilities. This was especially true with burned DVD±R discs. I once had an early set-top DVD player that played a bootleg DVD-R disc just fine, then I put another burned DVD in it that it wouldn’t play, then from that point on that first burned disc would now no longer play in it! This was long before they had CAT5 jacks so I still don’t know if/how it upgraded its own firmware or what.

Point is, the best solution is to replace the old DVD drive. Because of Blu-ray regular DVD drives are ridiculously cheap, like $29 online for a full player/burner drive (I don’t know if they even still make player-only drives). If you want to hang onto the older computer, a new-ish model IDE DVD drive would probably play all OEM (i.e. not homemade) discs w/o problems.

Can the computer play other DVDs?

If it’s slow and pixellated, it might be a read speed issue. i.e. the disc might be scratched so data can’t be read fast enough to play video. You can try ripping the DVD. Newer drives have better error correction.

Yes, as I said, only the “The Cabin in the Woods” is unplayable on the two DVD drives in that computer. It plays fine from the drive in the newer computer.

Have there been any recent modifications to the DVD standard? If not, then firmware will only help if there was a bug. Previously, things like double layered disks required new firmware.

DVD drives & players have an important difference from CD-ROM drives & CD players in that both the drives and the discs have built-in anti-piracy measures. When you load a DVD the player/drive queries the disc via an encrypted protocol to basically ask “Are you a validly made disc?”. This isn’t merely a region code check (though that’s part of it). There is also code on every DVD disc which the players must load and run which essentially asks them, “Are you a valid player?”. If any part of this ‘handshaking’ procedure fails the disc will not play.

I assume that they may have improved/modified this process after the first generation of discs & players. Consequently the older discs are all forwardly compatible with newer players (the new players always contain all the older codes), but the older drives are sometimes not backwardly compatible with newer discs (the older players don’t contain the newer codes). As others mentioned firmware upgrades were supposed to take care of this, but players’ & drives’ ability to upgrade themselves was often limited due to the risk of it failing and ‘bricking’ the device.

I now believe that there has been some kind of change made in new DVDs. I received the “My Afternoons with Margueritte” DVD today and it, like the “The Cabin in the Woods” DVD, is not seen by the LiteOn DVD drive in the older computer. (It is seen by the DVD drive in the newer computer.) Of course, I tried some of the old DVDs from my collection, and they are all still seen and play from the old LiteOn drive, so its not the drive itself, its something about newly released DVDs which makes them unplayable on the older hardware.

I’m surprise I haven’t read anything about this anywhere, but maybe that just proves I’m the cheapest guy around for keeping such an old DVD drive in operation for longer than anybody else!