Can you buy an external disc drive for PC?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can buy an external disc drive for a PC. External disc drives connect to a computer externally, typically via USB, to read and write to optical discs like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. They offer an easy way to add disc reading and writing capabilities to a PC that may lack an internal optical drive. Popular options for external disc drives include portable USB DVD/CD drives and slim external Blu-ray writers.

What is an External Disc Drive?

An external disc drive is a type of optical disc drive that connects externally to a computer, usually via USB. Optical disc drives can read and write to discs like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.

While internal optical drives used to be common in desktop PCs, many newer computers now omit internal disc drives due to the rise of streaming, digital downloads, and cloud storage. An external disc drive offers a plug-and-play way to add disc reading and writing capabilities back to these computers.

External disc drives are also useful for reading and writing discs on laptops and PCs with internal drives. They are more portable than internal drives and enable you to use disc media across multiple devices.

Common examples of external optical disc drives include:

– External DVD drive – Designed to read and write CDs and DVDs. Useful for accessing software, games, movies, and data on disc.

– External Blu-ray drive – Can read Blu-rays, DVDs, and CDs, and write to DVDs and CDs. Allows playback of Blu-ray movies.

– External combo drive – Supports multiple disc types like CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. Offers disc reading and writing versatility.

Most external disc drives connect to PCs via USB, with USB 3.0 and USB-C being the fastest modern options. They may require external power in some cases. USB bus power can run many external DVD drives but higher-bandwidth Blu-ray drives may need a dedicated power cable.

External disc drives are also available with other interfaces like Thunderbolt or USB-C. With a Thunderbolt 3 external drive, you can achieve lightning fast disc read/write speeds. A USB-C external drive allows for a modern reversible connector supporting USB 3.1+ speeds.

Advantages of an External Disc Drive

There are several benefits to using an external disc drive versus an internal optical drive:

– **Portability** – External disc drives are designed to be portable and light. You can move an external drive between computers and take it on the go.

– **Easy to Add Functionality** – External drives instantly add disc capabilities without having to open up your computer. They plug into any computer with USB.

– **Compatibility** – External disc drives allow modern PCs without optical drives to access legacy disc formats. They also provide Blu-ray support to computers that lack internal Blu-ray drives.

– **Access Discs from Multiple Devices** – With an external drive, you can share optical media between different PCs, laptops, and devices. Internal drives can only be used in one system.

– **Higher Speeds** – New external disc drives with fast USB 3.0/3.1 or Thunderbolt can provide quicker disc read/write speeds than older internal optical drives.

So in summary, external disc drives offer a portable plug-and-play solution for accessing optical discs across different devices. They provide legacy disc support and fast speeds.

Can You Use Any External Disc Drive with a PC?

Generally yes, you can use any external disc drive with a PC as long as your computer has a USB port or other connector that the drive uses. Most external drives today use USB.

To use an external disc drive with a PC:

– Ensure your computer has a compatible USB port (USB-A, USB-C, etc). For the fastest speeds, a USB 3.0, USB 3.1, or Thunderbolt port is best.

– Plug the external disc drive directly into the computer’s USB port or into a USB hub/docking station that connects to the PC.

– For external drives requiring extra power, connect the included power cable from the drive to a power outlet.

– Turn on the external disc drive if it has a separate power button.

– The computer should automatically detect and install any required drivers for the external drive. Check if the drive shows up in File Explorer/Finder.

– Try reading a disc in the external drive. For writing discs, use compatible disc burning/authoring software.

– Eject and unplug the external drive when you are done using it.

Things to keep in mind when using an external disc drive with a PC:

– The drive must match your computer’s connectors – don’t buy a USB-C only drive for a PC with USB-A ports.

– Disc formats supported will depend on the drive – DVD drives won’t read Blu-rays, Blu-ray drives won’t read floppy discs, etc.

– You may need to install playback software for certain media types, like Blu-ray movie playback software.

– For the fastest speeds, use a USB 3.0+ external drive with a USB 3.0/3.1 port.

As long as you have the right connectivity and your PC can provide enough power, any external disc drive should work. Look for drives compatible with your computer when shopping.

What to Look for When Buying an External Disc Drive

Here are key factors to consider when buying an external disc drive for your PC:

– **Compatibility** – Ensure the drive is compatible with your computer’s ports and operating system. Most drives work with Windows and Mac PCs via USB.

– **Disc Support** – Determine what discs you need to read/write – CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays? This will dictate what kind of drive you need.

– **Read and Write Capabilities** – Some drives can only read discs while others can also write/burn discs. Choose a read/write drive if you need to write data to discs.

– **Drive Speed** – Faster spinning drives and data transfer interfaces equal quicker disc reading and writing. USB 3.0+ or Thunderbolt offers fast speeds.

– **Portability** – If you plan to travel with the drive, look for a compact and lightweight model. Consider maximum portability vs performance.

– **Power Source** – Lower power drives can run via USB while higher bandwidth drives may need an external power adapter.

– **Software** – Some drives include disc burning software. You may need Blu-ray or DVD playback software if your PC lacks it.

– **Brand** – Stick with major brands like ASUS, Dell, LG, Pioneer, or Verbatim for quality and support. Read reviews for performance insight.

– **Price** – External disc drives range from $20 basic USB DVD drives to $100+ high-performance Blu-ray drives. Compare pricing online.

Prioritize connectivity, disc support, and read/write needs when choosing a drive. USB 3.0+ or Thunderbolt offers the fastest interface. Look for value and portability unless you need max performance.

Top External Disc Drives for PCs

Based on compatibility, speed, affordability, and positive reviews, here are top external disc drive recommendations for PCs:

ASUS ZenDrive USB 2.0 External DVD Writer

– Ultra-slim and portable design with USB 2.0 interface
– Plug-and-play connectivity with Windows and Mac
– M-Disc support for long-term data archiving
– Affordable DVD/CD read and write speeds

Pioneer BDR-XS07S Portable Blu-Ray Writer

– USB 3.0 external Blu-ray drive capable of reading and writing to CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays
– Supports BDXL discs for extra high capacity Blu-ray media
– Slot loading mechanism for industrial design
– Software for burning discs included

LG Electronics Ultra Slim DVD Drive

– Compact and lightweight USB-powered DVD drive
– Silent play minimizes noise during movie playback
– Jamless play skips damaged parts of discs
– Windows and Mac support out of the box

Verbatim External Slimline Blu-Ray Writer

– Reads and writes CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs
– M-DISC compatible for archival storage
– Provides high speed disc writing
– Slim portable design powered via USB

Dell USB DVD Drive

– Plug and play USB DVD drive from Dell
– Compatible with all USB-equipped Windows and Mac computers
– Reads and writes CDs and DVDs
– Compact design in Dell black finish

These picks offer the best value for money based on performance, reliability, portability, and connectivity. Compare specifications before choosing the right external disc drive for your needs and budget.

How to Use an External Disc Drive

Using an external disc drive with a PC is very simple:

1. **Connect the Drive** – Plug the USB cable from the external drive into your computer’s USB port. If the drive requires extra power, connect the power cord.

2. **Power On the Drive** – If your drive has a separate power button, turn it on. Most USB-powered drives will power on automatically.

3. **Wait for Disc Recognition** – Give your computer a moment to automatically detect and install the needed driver software for the new drive.

4. **Access Disc Drive** – The external drive should now show up in File Explorer/Finder. You can view contents of discs in the drive.

5. **Launch Disc with Software** – To launch disc content like movies or music, open a compatible playback program and access the content from the external drive.

6. **Eject and Unplug When Done** – Use the operating system’s “Eject” feature to safely stop the external drive before unplugging it.

Don’t forget to install any required playback or disc burning software for your drive. Software like PowerDVD and Roxio Toast help access and create disc content.

Overall, just connect your external disc drive, let your computer detect it, and access the drive contents like you would an internal drive. Enjoy portable disc reading and writing!

Tips for Using an External Drive with a PC

Follow these tips for seamlessly using your external disc drive with a Windows or Mac PC:

– When not using the drive, eject it properly from the OS before unplugging. This prevents errors.

– Disable auto-run features if discs launch unexpectedly when inserted. Manage auto-run settings in the OS.

– Update your drive’s firmware periodically for bug fixes and compatibility improvements. Check the manufacturer’s website.

– Position the drive on a flat surface for proper ventilation and cooling. Avoid obstructing vents.

– Be gentle when inserting and ejecting discs. Push discs firmly into the drive bay until grabbed.

– For maximum speed, connect your drive to a USB 3.0/3.1 port and use USB 3.0 cables.

– If discs won’t read, try cleaning them with a soft cloth. Also check for scratches and damage. Damaged discs may not work.

– When burning discs, go into your burning software and select the external drive for the write destination.

– If you hear excessive noise when using your drive, there may be a problem. Contact the manufacturer for support.

With good care and proper handling, an external optical drive can last for years. Handle discs gently, use high quality media, and keep the drive ventilated to get the most out of it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an external disc drive on any computer?

Yes, you can use an external disc drive with essentially any desktop or laptop computer. As long as the computer has a USB port or other connector that the drive uses, it should work when you plug it in. External disc drives are designed to provide plug-and-play functionality across many devices.

Is it better to get an internal or external disc drive?

If your computer has space for an internal drive, that may perform a little better. But external drives provide more flexibility for use across devices. External drives are also portable. Unless you need max performance, an external drive offers advantages like portability and wide compatibility.

Do I need any extra software to use an external disc drive?

The external drive should work right out of the box to read discs. To burn discs or access certain media like Blu-ray movies, you may need playback or disc burning software. Many drives include software. You can also find third-party programs.

How do I get an external drive to work with my Chromebook?

Chromebooks support some external drives via USB. You may need a special Chrome OS compatible external drive. Also enable the Chrome OS setting to access external storage devices. Consult your Chromebook manual for details.

Can I play Blu-ray movies with an external Blu-ray drive?

Yes, with the right software, an external Blu-ray drive for your PC will allow you to watch Blu-ray films. You need playback software capable of accessing Blu-ray video and decrypting Blu-ray DRM. Examples include PowerDVD and Leawo Blu-ray Player.


Adding an external disc drive to your PC through USB allows you to access legacy CD, DVD, and Blu-ray media. It is an affordable way to add optical disc capabilities like movie watching or software installation to a computer that may lack an internal drive.

There are many quality external drive options from top brands at varying price points. Look for drives with USB 3.0/3.1 for fast speeds. Compare disc compatibility, reading/writing needs, power requirements, and design when shopping. Portable slim DVD drives tend to offer good value for everyday tasks.

Using an external drive only requires plugging it into an available USB port. Let Windows or macOS detect and install the drive, view its contents in File Explorer/Finder, and access discs through compatible software. With the right external drive, you can conveniently access disc content on any modern PC.

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