Ask Max: iMac having issues burning discs and reading DVDs.
I have a G4 17" LCD 1.25ghz iMac running 10.3.9 and I am experiencing the following problem: when I put a data disk in the slot it mounts on the desktop and works no problem, when I do the same with a music disk no problem, when I use a disk that has avi files on it no problem, but when I put a DVD in it does not mount and does not play anymore. Further, when I try to back up my iTunes on a disk, the drive cannot burn any disk at all. The error message is that the drive is too fast for the medium, even if I step it down to 1x, it is still the same error message. The drive is a PIONEER DVD-RW DVR-106D: the drive type is CD-RW/DVD-RW. I love this machine and I got rid of my TV and watch all my DVD's on this machine, but not anymore.
I am in Germany and went to the German Apple reseller who is nearest to me and they tell me that I should replace the whole computer and that is not going to happen, your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
It's possible that the DVD mechanism of your optical drive has failed. You can lose DVD reading functionality without losing CD reading. Although it is uncommon, both CD and DVD portions of your drive have many separate components, so partial failure is a possibility. It is also possible that all your problems exist in software. You should test by booting up off an Apple OS X DVD. Most versions of OS X Tiger are on DVD, so try booting up off that disc. If you can boot up off a DVD, it is safe to say that your DVD drive can properly read DVDs. Now it is just a matter of getting to the software problem. As a quick fix, and since you are already booted off an install DVD, try doing a Archive and Install. It is an option when you select the destination hard drive.
If the problem persists after you install off an OS X DVD, then I would look at the Region settings of your DVD drive. This should not effect burning, but it will affect the ability to play DVDs. You can only change the DVD movie region on your DVD five times. After that it will be locked to the last region played. If you use DVDs from Germany and the USA, eventually you will be locked into one or the other DVD regions. The simple test would be to insert a DVD from the USA and then insert one from Germany. If one works but the other one does not, then we know what happened.
There is info on Apple's site on the DVD player regions.
Now if you can't boot from a DVD, you can be certain that you have a DVD hardware issue. In that instance you have no choice but to replace the drive. MCE makes a replacement drive for your iMac G4, but it will take some skilled work to replace it. You may want the help of a professional.
Hope this helps... but no matter what, despite what you were told, your iMac G4 is still certainly a functional computer.