My PC/laptop computer running Windows 7 suddenly won’t play DVDs using Windows Media Player or Real Player

PROBLEM: I have a laptop running Windows 7. When I insert a DVD that has worked fine before today, a message comes up saying that a file is missing so the DVD can’t be played. Using different DVDs produces the same result with Windows Media player (WMP) or Real Player.

SOLUTIONS: This is the solution that works most of the time for this most common of problems with CD/DVD drives. Insert the CD/DVD into the drive, open Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the Start button and then right-click on the entry for CD/DVD drive and click on Properties in the menu that comes up.

The AutoPlay option might not be enabled for the type of file you want to play, so open AutoPlay in the Win7 Control Panel. To do that, set View by: in the top right-hand corner to Small icons or Large icons and then open the AutoPlay option, which allows you to set which programs play movies, audio files, view image files, etc. Set the media player that you want to use as the default player under the the categories that you use.

If doing that doesn’t work, try opening the Device Manager (by entering its name or devmgmt.msc in the Start => Search… box) and uninstall the DVD drive by right-clicking on its entry under DVD/CD ROM drives, click on the Uninstall option and reboot. Windows will reinstall the driver for the drive. Some users report having to do this every time Windows Update installs updates.The drive’s manufacturer may have new drivers and firmware for your model (it must be for your model not any other model) that can be downloaded and installed. Just go to the drive manufacturer’s website and search for your model’s support page.

Most third-party media programs make themselves as the default player. Real Player has a bad reputation for the way in which it sets itself up and for what it reports back to its developer, so I don’t use it. The VLC Player, Winamp and Windows Media Player 12.0, all free, have good reputations.WMP was released on July 22, 2009 and was the latest version in January 2015. See this Wikipedia article on it for up-to-date information:

Windows Media Player –

A good alternative idea would be to download and install the version of the K-Lite Codec Pack that meets your needs. The Full version is best and can be obtained here: It allows Windows Media Player to play almost anything. During the installation, select ALL video and ALL audio types. I keep three versions on a utilities DVD for XP, Vista and Win7 and install it for people who use Audio/Video playback. When the Pack is installed, apart from the Windows Media Player, of course, which uses it, you can uninstall any other player you have installed. It is not advisable to install Real Player. I always uninstall it on any computer that I get to work on. Note that, like all good software, the K-Lite Codecs are updated regularly. File Hippo updates from keep you updated on those codecs and many other programs. News of latest updates are sent to you by email.

About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.