Fixing a Missing DVD Drive on my HP Pavilion Slimline

I’m not sure how or why, but a few months ago the DVD drive went missing on the HP Pavilion Slimline that my wife uses. Not physically missing of course, but missing in software – as in, there was no optical drive showing up in the list of drives. Putting a disc in the drive did nothing – I couldn’t load any new software on it. It wasn’t a big deal for quite a while, because we didn’t have much use for the drive, but this week I needed to load software for a new HP multi-function laser printer, so I figured I’d try to get it fixed once and for all.

When I saw that the optical drive was showing up in the device manager with a small yellow exclamation mark, I tried the normal thing: uninstall it, scan for new hardware, and let Vista fix the problem by re-installing it. Unfortunately, that didn’t work – it continued to complain about a bad driver, giving me error coe 39. I did a bit of searching and found this page on HP support that addressed the problem through a variety of steps. I knew the drive had power because it would eject properly, and the case hadn’t been opened in months so I figured it wasn’t a cable problem.

The solution ended up being in the registry. Here are the steps I followed to fix it (a shortened version of the steps from the HP site):

  1. Fire up the registry editor (START > RUN > REGEDIT)
  2. Drill down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > Class
  3. Select 4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318 (the first REG_SZ will say “DVD/CD-ROM Drive” to help you identify the right one).
  4. Select the LowerFilters value and press the Delete key.
  5. If you see UpperFilters listed as a value, select that as well and delete it.

After a reboot, I was back in action, with the DVD drive showing up. Thanks HP for having worthwhile online support and saving me a phone call!