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CD Rom Drive too slow? September 20, 2005

Posted by Carthik in administration, commands, ubuntu.

If your CR Rom drive, or the CD-RW drive, or your DVD reader/writer are slower than their stated speeds for reading or writing (burning), then you may not have DMA (Direct Memory Access) enabled on the drive in question. DMA allows for faster data access for drives that support it by effectively not using CPU time for data transfer to put it really simply.

You can check if the cd drive has the option enabled by doing a:
$sudo hdparm /dev/hdc

Where “hdc” stands for the drive in question – change this if it is different on your machine (you can find out by looking in the /etc/fstab file)

If it says “dma = 0” in the output of the command, then that means that dma is currently disabled for the drive.

You can enable it temporarily for the current session till you shutdown the computer by using the command:
$sudo hdparm -d1 /dev/hdc

This will be reset when you reboot. You can make the change more permanent by editing the file /etc/hdparm.conf, and adding the following to the end of the file:

/dev/hdc {
dma = on

This will turn on dma each time you boot up the computer.

Also, if you cd/dvd writer provides for some form of buffer under-run protection, you can enable nautilus to use this when it writes to the disc by using the “burnfree” option. You can set this option by doing :
$gconftool-2 –set –type boolean /apps/nautilus-cd-burner/burnproof true

Note: Your system BIOS also gets to decide how your drives behave, so check to see if the proper options are enabled in the BIOS upon boot-up.

There! Now you should be able to read/write from optical drives at the best possible speed.


1. Random Earthling - September 21, 2005

erm?? did you mean:

$sudo hdparm -d1 /dev/hdc

2. ubuntonista - September 22, 2005

Thanks! I edited it – was a slip of the fingers.

3. craig - September 29, 2005

Awesome, will check my BIOS new reboot. πŸ™‚

I don’t know if its related but I tried recently booting off a Warty Live CD with little success, I noticed that the CDROM seemed awefully slow.

Also any idea what why it kept trying to disable IRQ11 too? More CDROM issues?

4. ubuntonista - September 29, 2005

Try using the pci=noacpi and/or the noirqdebug options when booting. You can do this by typing “e” when the system boots up and this will bring up the option to edit the grub menu. You then have to tag the option to the end of the default boot option.

You may want to just try a newer version of Ubuntu though, I should think the newer versions must be far better, since it’s been a year now since Warty was released.

5. Daedalus - October 8, 2005

Thanks πŸ˜‰
My DVD Drive was very slow (2x in CD Extraction !) I’ll see if it’s better when I’ll edit it


6. dylan - November 14, 2005

Nope. I still get a relatively slow drive. Never had this problem under Slackware. I dont know why….

I have a 24x DVD+R/RW drive and a 52x CD-R/RW drive.

I cannot break the write/read speed of over 7x…why?

Please help!!

7. laurenth - December 25, 2005

I’m getting the followiing error 😦

HDIO_SET_DMA failed: Operation not permitted

And so far all the stuff i found on the internet is quite complicated for a beginner. Anyone knows where this problem could come from exactly?

8. Chuck - December 31, 2005

note a typo for the burnfree command line example. The -set and -type should be –set –type (at least in 5.10).

9. Jon - February 1, 2006

Found this after googling for ‘ubuntu slow dvd’ and the tip worked great.


10. LKRaider - February 17, 2006

You can test your settings with:

sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/hdc

(It will perform read timings)

11. imemyself - March 1, 2006

what if u have this problem in xp?

12. Daniel K - March 24, 2006

Thanks for this! I was getting slow speeds on ubuntu for some time..

13. Kerry - July 28, 2006

Yip I also have a slow dvd playback/burnspeed problem running an acer travelmate 2310 with 512mgs of ram

$ sudo hdparm -d1 /dev/hdc

setting using_dma to 1 (on)
using_dma = 1 (on)

so it’s not that,
then tried:
sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/hdc

Timing cached reads: 1832 MB in 2.00 seconds = 915.94 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 2 MB in 3.84 seconds = 533.30 kB/sec

but I’ve got no idea wether this is considered fast, slow or what

14. Vishlad702 - August 30, 2006

I Have a CDROM with 52 X and DVD RW with 16 X spped.

There are no problems with the DVD RW but when I play any songs from the CD ROM or HDD, and copy some other files form the CD, then irrespective of any media player , the AUio gets scratchy or distorted.

I am really fed up as I got the PC very recently.

Solutions I tried:
1) Enabling DMA.
2) Changing the CDROM Drive.
3) Changed the Digital option to Analog in the CD player as well as in the Windows Media Player.
4) Tested with various CDs.

Kindly help.

15. Khalid Dagli - October 1, 2006

Sorry for bumb ass.

I have 52X CD-rom which runs extremly slow while playing music and copy ing date. My DMA settings in BIOS is Auto. any help???

16. Khalid Dagli - October 1, 2006

It’s data.

17. yucel - October 24, 2006

This is my config with 2 IDE disks and a CD-rom in hdparm.conf:

hda is primary master,
hdb is primary slave
hdc is my cdrom

open console and become root

type or copy from here and paste in console (terminal)

gedit /etc/hdparm.conf

now u see the hdparm config, go dow to the end of the text.

and use one of these lines to configure your hardware

command_line {
hdparm -q -X66 -q -A1 -q -d1 -q -u0 -q -c3 -q -W0 -q -m16 /dev/hda

command_line {
hdparm -q -X66 -q -A1 -q -d1 -q -u0 -q -c3 -q -W0 -q -m16 /dev/hdb

command_line {
hdparm -q -d1 -q -u0 -q -c3 /dev/hdc

save the file and restart ur PC.

good luck

18. mark - March 9, 2007

I’ve got a laptop that will not play CDs or DVDs at proper speed (too slow, along with audible pops & clicks), but a ripped file will play just fine (right speed, no pops or clicks).

Any ideas would be appreciated.


(Toshiba A105-S4364)

19. seks izle - September 29, 2010

Thanks! I edited it – was a slip of the fingers.

20. evden eve nakliyat e - November 5, 2010

evve It’s data.

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CD Rom Drive too slow? | Ubuntu Blog

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