By Gabriel Torres on October 25, 2004
Several readers have written us claiming at CDs that literally explode inside the CD-ROM unit. Reader Renan Melo could even take pictures of the CD that exploded inside his CD-ROM unit, damaging it. See those pictures below.
Figure 1: Explosive CD-ROM destroyed the CD-ROM drive.
Figure 2: It really destroyed the drive!
The "explosion" is in fact the shattering of the CD, posing a serious risk to the user, since oftenly the CD-ROM tray opens alone, which permits the fragments of the CD to dangerously fly off it. Imagine if your PC has such problem and your case is on your desk: fragments from the CD could fly in your direction and hit your eyes!
But what is the cause for the explosive CD? When that problem was first noticed on the market, we thought the problem was related only to low quality CR-R media. However, after some time, that same problem began to happen to industrially recorded media too. Then we suspected of Creative 52x units, due to the huge amount of e-mails relating this case to this drive model. But does that mean that the Creative units have that problem? Not necessarily. The biggest problem is that Creative (just like some other manufacturers) does not manufacture CD-ROM units. It buys units from other companies that print its brand (a system known as OEM), and it does not always use the same supplier (manufacturer). This, we suspected the problem could be related to a certain manufacturer of the Creative CD-ROM units or even to a certain batch of products.
Besides, there are strong indications that there are forged Creative CD-ROM units on the market. That is, some "wise guys" buy cheap units from unknown manufacturers ("generic" units) and print the "Creative" logo on them. That is just a rumor, but the problem could be related to such units.
But we were wrong. The explosive CD-ROM has nothing to do with the drive model nor manufacturer, but with the media. Keep reading.
The real reason for the Explosive CD remained a great mystery for us and for most users during several weeks. Some readers wrote us suggesting very plausible hypotheses for the reasons why CD's exploded out of the blue inside CD-ROM drives.
From those hypotheses, the one that seemed the most coherent to us is the following one: CD-ROM may explode inside the unit if its central plastic disk is cracked or broken. The central plastic disk we are talking about is the one that is usually transparent and is located around the central hole of the CD.
With the rotation of CD inside the unit, the crack of the central disk tends to increase, going from the center of the CD to its extremity. Since the CD is rotating very quickly inside the unit, when this bigger crack is formed, the CD breaks. Because of the high-speed and of the existing mechanisms inside the CD-ROM drive, the CD breaks into many pieces, causing the effect of the "explosive CD."
Which means, there is a remedy: all we have to do is not to use CDs whose central ring is broken or cracked! CD that present such problem should be discarded.
If you have a CD with important data (a CD-R containing personal data, for instance) and it presents this problem and you need to use it, the solution is to make a copy of the CD before trying to. In order to do so, we recommended that you read the CD in a low speed unit or configure your CD recording program (Easy CD Creator, Nero, etc) to perform the reading of the CD in a very low speed (8x, for instance), because as evidence seems to indicate, that problem only happens when the CD-ROM rotates very fast.
This problem happens more on 52x units not because of the manufacturer or the model or the batch, but just because they rotate really fast.