How do I get my DVD to play on my Dell laptop?

If you are having issues getting a DVD to play on your Dell laptop, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve the problem. DVD playback issues are common and usually have simple solutions related to software settings or drivers. With a few quick fixes, you’ll likely be able to get your DVDs working again.

Quick Fixes

Here are some quick things to check if a DVD is not playing on your Dell laptop:

  • Make sure the DVD is inserted correctly into the optical drive with the label facing up.
  • Check that the disc is clean and free from scratches or smudges.
  • Try restarting your laptop to reset any software issues.
  • Update or reinstall the DVD drive software and drivers for your specific Dell model.
  • Check that the DVD playback software, like Windows Media Player, is set to play DVDs and has the latest updates.
  • Make sure the DVD region code matches the region setting on your laptop.
  • Try a different DVD to rule out issues with the disc.

Often a restart, driver update, cleaning the disc, or changing the region code is all that is needed to get DVDs working again on a Dell laptop. If you’ve tried the quick fixes and it still isn’t working, there may be a bigger issue at play.

Check the DVD Drive

If a DVD still won’t play after basic troubleshooting, the next step is to check the DVD drive itself. Here are some things to look at:

  • Open the DVD drive tray and look for any obstructions, dust, or damage to the lens or mechanism.
  • Make sure the drive is properly detected in Windows Device Manager and there are no error codes or issues.
  • Try manually uninstalling the DVD drive in Device Manager then restarting to reinstall it.
  • Check if the drive makes any audible noises when you insert a DVD, which could indicate a mechanical problem.
  • Try cleaning the lens with a soft cloth or cotton swab dampened with rubbing alcohol.
  • Consider purchasing an inexpensive external USB DVD drive to test if it’s an internal drive issue.

If the DVD drive seems faulty, isn’t detected properly, or you can’t resolve the issue with software troubleshooting, then the drive itself may need to be replaced. This would require either replacing the internal drive or getting an external DVD drive.

Update or Reinstall Drivers

One of the most common solutions for DVD playback issues on Windows laptops is to update, reinstall, or rollback the drivers for the DVD drive. Here is how to update DVD drivers on a Dell laptop:

  1. Open Device Manager in Windows.
  2. Expand the “DVD/CD-ROM drives” section.
  3. Right click on the DVD drive and select “Update driver.”
  4. Select “Search automatically for updated driver software.”
  5. Restart your laptop.

If updating the driver doesn’t resolve the issue, you can try uninstalling the driver from Device Manager, restarting your laptop, and letting Windows automatically reinstall the driver.

Or, you can manually download the latest driver for your specific Dell model from the Dell Support website and perform a clean install.

Installing the latest DVD driver ensures maximum compatibility with different discs and often fixes playback problems with DVDs on Dell laptops.

Adjust Region Settings

Commercial DVDs contain region codes that restrict playback to specific geographic regions. If the region code on your DVD doesn’t match the region setting on your Dell laptop, it won’t play. Here’s how to check and adjust the region code on a Dell:

  1. Insert a DVD into the drive.
  2. Open Windows Media Player.
  3. Click on the “Help” menu and select “About Windows Media Player.”
  4. Note the region code listed. This is your laptop’s current region setting.
  5. If it doesn’t match the DVD, click the “Change Region” button up to 5 times to match the DVD code.

After changing the region code, restart your laptop and try playing the DVD again. Keep in mind you only get a limited number of region changes on a DVD drive.

Update Media Playback Software

The program you use to play DVDs on your Dell also needs to be properly configured and up-to-date. Here’s how to check playback software:

  • Make sure Windows Media Player or your preferred program is set to play DVDs in the settings.
  • Check for updates to Windows Media Player, VLC, or other DVD software and install the latest versions.
  • Try using a different playback program like VLC Media Player if Windows Media Player isn’t working.
  • Disable any downloaded codec packs that can interfere with built-in Windows DVD playback.

Keeping your media playback software updated helps ensure compatibility with new DVD formats and resolve playback issues. You may need to uninstall/reinstall the programs or reset their settings to defaults to get DVD playback working again if updates don’t solve the problem.

Clean the DVD

One simple thing to check when a DVD won’t play on your Dell laptop is to inspect the disc for dirt, smudges, scratches, or damage. Here are some DVD cleaning tips:

  • Examine the bottom surface of the DVD and look for scuffs, scratches, cracks, or a warped shape.
  • Use a soft cloth and gently wipe in straight lines from center to edge to remove smudges or fingerprints.
  • For more cleaning power, use a lens/CD cleaner fluid and cloth designed for optical discs.
  • If the DVD is scratched, try buffing with a plastic polishing compound.
  • Damaged or warped DVDs may need to be replaced if they cannot be fully cleaned.

Proper DVD care and maintenance helps prevent readability issues. Even tiny debris or oil from your fingers can prevent a DVD from playing. Always hold discs by the edges and store them in a case.

Check for Obstructions

It’s possible for a foreign object or obstruction to prevent the DVD drive on your Dell laptop from opening or closing properly. Here’s how to check for obstructions:

  • With the laptop powered off, manually eject the DVD drive tray.
  • Look for any objects blocking the tray from opening or closing smoothly.
  • Remove any debris like plastic, paper, labels, or ripped DVD fragments.
  • Use compressed air to blow out any dust or particles in the DVD drive bay.
  • If the tray seems jammed, gently wiggle or move it to release the obstruction.

Be very careful not to touch any of the sensitive mechanisms or laser lens when checking for obstructions. Power on the laptop again after removing any debris to test if DVDs now play properly.

Troubleshoot Software Settings

Some DVD playback issues on Dell laptops could stem from incorrect software settings in Windows Media Player or other programs. Here are a few settings to check:

  • Open Windows Media Player settings and confirm DVD is enabled under the “Play” tab.
  • Disable “automatic media detection” in case the wrong program is launching.
  • Adjust video acceleration settings if you have an integrated graphics card.
  • Make sure DVD decoding is enabled in the advanced options.
  • Reset Windows Media Player settings to default if needed.

Tweaking the software configurations for DVD media playback may resolve wonky issues like choppy video, freezing, or general playback problems. Test with different settings to find an optimal setup.


Getting your DVDs to successfully play on a Dell laptop typically requires going through basic troubleshooting steps. The most common fixes include:

  • Updating the DVD driver
  • Cleaning the disc
  • Adjusting region settings
  • Updating media player software
  • Checking for obstructions

For software-related issues, try restarting your laptop or reinstalling relevant programs. For hardware issues, inspect the DVD drive to make sure it’s functioning mechanically and detected properly in Windows.

With simple systematic checks, you should be able to resolve most common reasons a DVD fails to play on a Dell. This will let you get back to enjoying your favorite movies on your laptop.