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This sounds first like a faulty Optical drive. Sometimes, it's possible that the brand of discs are the issue. However, in your case, it sounds like all disks. Many optical drives in macs become picky on what is put in them over time (check the forums, it's been a problem for a very long time). The fix? Replace the drive. Or go with an external DVD drive. I chose the latter route for my old MacBook Pro which also suffered from the same ailment.
The only other possible solution I can offer is a PRAM reset then a Safeboot. I can not guarantee this will work, but it may help in at least other aspects of performance on the machine. Plus it is a good idea to start here anyway. Then after these, we can try to troubleshoot the drive before you start shopping for a new one.
First let's reset the PRAM on the computer.
1) Shut down the computer.
2) While the computer is shut down, locate these keys: command (has an apple on it), option (sometimes called alt), P, and R.
3) Turn the computer on, then press and hold Command-Option-P-R before the gray screen appears.
4) Hold these keys down until you hear the startup sound a total of 3 times.
5) Release the keys.
Next, let's try a Safe Boot. This will perform several clean up procedures that may be affecting the machine's performance and startup.
1) Shut down your computer completely.
2) Start up the computer and immediately after the startup chime, press and hold the Shift key
3) Once the gray Apple and progress indicator appear, release the Shift key
4) Note: Startup will likely take substantially longer than normal
5) In Mac OS 10.4 or later, you will have to login to your account, even if it normally does so automatically.
6) Shut down the computer.
At this point, if the drive is still spitting out discs or not recognizing them, I'd say it's a failing drive. However, if you want to be extra-thorough, you can continue below.
To rule out it being an issue with a setting and something repairable rather than replacing the drive. I suggest you backup your hard drive to an external hard drive FIRST before doing ANYTHING. I suggest you use a program like Carbon Copy Cloner (http://www.bombich.com/
) to create a restorable backup of your Hard Drive to an External Hard Drive. This free program will make a mirrored copy of your hard drive in it's current state that you can go back to if things go south after the following changes. I do this personally before I perform any kind of install, update or major change to my system. ONCE you have a backup, shut down the computer. Then insert a Mac OS X Install Disk and restart the computer while holding the C key down until the computer loads from the DVD. If it still spits the disk out, then I'd say it's a bad Optical Drive. No need to go any further. If you can get the computer to load from the DVD, then we can try some other options. Read on.
Shut down the computer, start up normally. Go to System Preferences / Accounts / and create a temporary admin account. Once you do this, startup in this new temporary account and try the drive. This will rule out a setting in your user account that may be causing the issue. If it still spits out a disk, the last suggestion is reloading the Mac OS X System Software.
I would suggest starting up from the Mac OS X Install Disk and running an "Archive and Install". The "Archive and Install" option on reinstalling the Mac OS X will preserve your user data and files, but you may need to reinstall third party software and fonts. Because of this I highly suggest you get a good backup of your hard drive prior to doing this if you can. I would use Carbon Copy Cloner (mentioned earlier).
There is a comprehensive website detailing the Archive and Install process online. I recommend you read through it thoroughly before proceeding.http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/archiveinstall.html
If the drive is still failing after this, then I'd be looking for a new drive.If I helped,
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