The MacBook family was first introduced in May 2006 and replaced the iBook as Apple's consumer laptop.

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How do I know if my optical drive isn't working?

My Optical drive reads CDs, but it won't burn/write CDs. I have tried 3 different brands of media. I haven't cleaned the lens. My Macbook is 6 years old. Is there a diagnostic or a sure way of knowing it is kaput?

If it needs replacing, is it more economical to buy an external CD burner or will I need the optical drive for something else. I can't burn DVDs.

Thank you

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There's a few things you may want to check out before you throw in the towel here.

First - Are you able to burn CD Vs DVD's? If so then you may be using the wrong media or have an optical drive that can't burn DVD's (did someone replace the unit on you). Use System Profiler application which you have to double check what your drive is able to burn.

Second - How were you burning your DVD's? you may need to upgrade the software.

Third - Its possible you just need to clean the lens. Have you tried cleaning it with a CD/DVD head cleaner which has a micro brush to clean the dust off.

Yes, you could use an external CD/DVD burner via USB if you can fine a Firewire unit it would be much better {faster} (FW devices are getting harder to find these days).

Did you review the iFixIt guide on replacing the optical drive? Are you able to do it? This is not that difficult a task for a first timer as long as you take your time and don't force things.

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