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CD-ROM Drives

Like floppy disk drives, the CD-ROM drive has its read/write head exposed to the outside air. A significant difference between the two devices is the way they read information from their respective media. The floppy disk drive has the heads contact the disk, which makes it more susceptible both to dirt accumulation and to reliability problems due to dirt. The CD-ROM uses light to read the compact disk, so it is much less sensitive to cleanliness issues. The read lens of most drives can tolerate the normal buildup of dust without any problems.

I have used many different CD-ROM drives for years and years, even in somewhat dirty environments, and have never had any problems with a drive that would produce read errors due to dust buildup. Since actually getting into a CD-ROM drive to access the head and clean it can be very difficult to do in many cases, the only practical way to clean a CD-ROM drive is to use a CD-ROM lens cleaner, which tend to be somewhat pricey. For these reasons I generally don't recommend that people worry about cleaning their CD-ROM read lens (unless they are getting errors reading disks that work in other drives.)

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