There's a chance the laser was damaged. Open the door and see if you can see anything inside (such as some of the cleaner brush that's come off or if you can see the laser lens and see if it looks damaged.
FWIW, I do part-time computer repair and I've never had to use one of those "cleaners" on a PC's CD drive. The most I've ever done is use a can of air and blowed out the "innards".
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Well, I opened up the tray door and looked around as best I could with a flashlight--couldn't find the gremlin what's messing me up! I then took a can of air and blew it around, but nothing seemed to move/fly out. Unfortunately, I'm still having the noise problem.
I did test the CD burner and it worked fine, except the same scratch/skip noise when the CD is played in the CD-RW drive. No sound problems with the DVD drive, even with the test CD. I did notice that the read light on the CD-RW blinks a lot while the CD is playing, and the skips/scratches seem to coincide with those blinks. Makes me think it is a lens problem--perhaps it's out of alignment or something?
I guess I'll have to phone Dell tomorrow (yikes), especially since there's only 19 days left on the limited warranty. I sure hate that outsourcing to India tech support, too. Sigh. What a way to start the new year!
Thanks, fireberd. Keep your fingers crossed...
Update FYI: I ran the Dell internal diagnostics and CD-RW passed all tests, even sounded perfect on headphones plugged into the drive itself (part of the test), but the audio CDs still skipped/scratched after test, so I called Dell Tech Support. They had me uninstall both the CD-RW and DVD-R drives, as well as the Intel IDE drive, then reboot the computer. It "found" the new hardware and prompted me to reboot a 2nd time. After that, I was able to play the audio CD with no sound problems. Although the tech support person was rather vague, I think it had something to do with a corrupt driver which reinstalled upon finding the "new" hardware. I have no idea if the original problem was caused in any way by the cleaner or not, but I'm not using it again in any computer just in case. Anyway, hope that helps someone else sometime.
Incidentally, the tech support person was located in the Phillipines, but at least she and I could understant each other in English better than when it's been India. No offense to anyone, but I will never understand how a company expects its high praise of tech support and customer service to continue when it allows outsourcing to an area whose workers are unable to understand the nuances of the English language, and customers cannot understand the thick accents. Off my soapbox now....
Get a new drive before your warranty runs out
Dim 4550 2.4G 533 512Mb DDR@333MhzMaxtor 30GB 7200rpmMaxtor 120GB 7200rpmNVIDIA TI 4200 64MBSB Live with 5.1Plextor PX-708A DVD +/- R/RWHL-DT-ST CD-RW DriveXP Home
I have ran into the same problem on 4 other occassions. I would suggest that you perform a system restore back to a date that the drive was operating properly.