More and more Windows computers are shipped without optical drives, and this phenomenon exists outside of the Tablet PC. Not having a DVD drive can prevent you from installing your favorite applications or checking archived discs — even copying your old CDs and DVDs.
Let’s see how easy it is…
What will you need
There are two main components to converting your removable laptop DVD drive into an external drive. The first, of course, is the drive; this is a compact «thin» form factor that has recently been included in some desktops that still ship with optical drives.
Along with that, you’ll need an external enclosure or enclosure kit, a relatively cheap device that will house your DVD drive and provide the necessary adapter and power supply. You should be able to find something suitable on eBay or Amazon (like this generic caddy).
The case pictured below is for an IDE/PATA optical drive and will of course be useless for a device with a SATA connector. Make sure you buy the right case with compatible connectors before rearranging your slim drive this way!
You will also need a suitable screwdriver for the conversion. You can know exactly what size you need when you receive the placement kit.
Please note that while this guide is only for removable drives, some fixed DVD drives may also be compatible. Of course, you’ll only find out about this after you take your laptop apart — which you shouldn’t do unless your computer is broken beyond repair.
Removing the DVD drive from your laptop
Perhaps the easiest step, removing your DVD drive is usually made possible by a thumb eject lever to the right or left of the DVD tray. By clicking on this, you will be able to remove the drive (which will be connected to the motherboard on the USB bus, but not through the USB connector) and remove it from the laptop.
There are other ways to remove your compact optical drive. For example, as shown above, there is often a locking screw that must be removed before the drive can be removed. Other extraction options may include multiple set screws. Removal of such devices may require pulling or disconnecting the drive. There may also be a latch, similar to the one often used to remove a laptop battery, which unlocks the optical drive for removal. For the best preparation, find the technical manual for your laptop to confirm the correct procedure.
Why do laptop manufacturers allow ejection of DVD discs? This is basically so that you can easily add updates; for example, you may want to add a compact Blu-ray drive to your laptop or use the bay to add a larger hard drive.
Again, as mentioned earlier, this guide focuses on lockable and/or lockable removable optical drives as described. Removing a suitable optical device from a sealed laptop (which does not have a device ejector) will depend on the computer and manufacturer’s specifications.