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The CD-ROM drive is making a lot of whirring noises, it sounds like it is increasing and decreasing in speed a lot
Explanation: When the CD-ROM is accessed it makes a lot of whirring noises. It sounds like it is changing speed a great deal and there are sometimes pauses incurred when trying to access files.
Diagnosis: If the drive sounds like it is spinning up and spinning down a lot, that's because it is. Conventional CD-ROM drives are called constant linear velocity or CLV and change their speed to ensure that the transfer rate is consistent when reading all parts of the disk. This is explained in detail here. Newer drives, basically those 16X and higher in speed, use constant angular velocity or CAV which means they do not change speed when accessing the disk (although they will spin down when idle to save the motor).
Recommendation: This behavior is normal for a standard CLV drive. If the changing of speed is causing performance problems or you just find it annoying, try either upgrading or downgrading. (Downgrading? Yes, because slower drives don't have to work as hard to change speeds when accessing the drive, so it is less noticeable.) Upgrading to a fast CAV or mixed CAV/CLV drive will make this problem diminish.