How To Fix “The Disc Can’t Be Burned, Because The Device Failed To Calibrate The Laser Power Level For This Media” Error On Your Mac

Tonight I went to update my copy of Diskwarrior to version 4.4. That required me to download an updater from the Alsoft website and then I needed to insert my original DVD and once it copied and modified it, I needed a blank DVD to burn the updated DVD. I’ve done it before so I didn’t really think twice. That is, until it wouldn’t burn on my MacBook Pro. I tried three different brands of DVDs and got the same result. I then decided to burn straight from the Mac OS X operating system and got this error message:

That’s an error message that sounds pretty terminal. Given that my Macbook Pro is three years old, I first assumed that it was a hardware problem such as a bad DVD drive. But I decided to take a crack at trying to fix it myself. I reasoned that because the DVD burner could read discs, it wasn’t dead. I also used it infrequently (like 4 or 5 times a year) to burn discs so I reasoned that I didn’t kill the drive from overuse. Thus It seemed reasonable to assume that perhaps the lasers that were responsible for burning were dusty or something like that. I had seen that in other computers before so it made sense. So I checked to see what DVD burner was in the MacBook Pro using System Profiler and found that it was a “MATSHITA DVD-R   UJ-868” drive . I Googled the drive for some pictures and found that the lasers were about a inch inside the drive slot. Armed with that info, I tried using compressed air to clean the lasers. That’s something that worked for me on other computers, but it didn’t work this time. When I tried to burn a disc, I got the same error. So I tried something different. I took a thin microfiber cloth and made it moderately damp with alcohol. I then wrapped it around a credit card so that it was flat enough to fit into the drive slot. I slid the credit card wrapped in the damp microfiber about a inch into the drive and moved it back and forth for about 3 minutes. I then let it dry for about 5 minutes and tried burning.

The result: Success! I could burn from OS X and I could complete the update process of Diskwarrior.

I can only assume that even though there’s what looks like to be two pieces of felt covering the drive slot, dust and other contaminants must be able to sneak into the drive which affects how the drive operates. That says to me that perhaps Apple needs to redesign this slot so that it keeps dust out. I’ve seen one of the latest Macbook Pros and it’s still the same sort of design. Perhaps if Apple is reading this, they might want to consider it the next MacBook Pro they make.

38 Responses to “How To Fix “The Disc Can’t Be Burned, Because The Device Failed To Calibrate The Laser Power Level For This Media” Error On Your Mac”

  1. I tried compressed air, that lots of people mentioned, but no luck for me. Microfiber cloth did the trick for me! Didn’t need the alcohol, but it’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Dear forum user (can’t Find your name)
    I had the same problem and I solved it easily with the microfiber and credit card trick, thanks to yOur advice.
    Many many thanks.
    This is the power of web and knowledge sharing!

  3. This worked for me and my MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-868, even without the alcahol. Thanks alot! 🙂

  4. Great tip worked for me too

  5. OMG, I can’t believe it, it worked. I had to do it a few times and I used an alcohol spray but it worked -THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH

  6. Pure Genius. I looked up solutions…. I had no dust can available. I was a little leery of sticking something in my computer… but ok I have no other choice at the moment. So I took a microfiber that a I normal use to clean my camera lens. I decided to wrap it around a laminated calendar card… less bumps than a credit card. I was not sure how far to slide it in. I did not want to damage. I kind of felt like a teenager doing something lol for the first time. But is burning as I am typing so I guess it worked!!!! Great job! A little scary to do!!! But seems to be working at this second!

  7. Guto Bittencourt Says:

    That worked for me. Thank you!

  8. Thank you! It worked 🙂

  9. It worked for me too – thank you..

  10. Worked!!!! thank you so much! same boat , use the drive only 3-4 times a year to burn.. gets dusty!

  11. used my library card – no bumps, and did without alcohol f y i.

  12. worked for me too. I used a normal cloth (handkerchief) and a credit card. Used some alcohol (in face a hand disinfectant). Worked like a charm!

  13. Ur a freaking genius !

  14. Did not work for me, here’s my new error –
    The burn to the MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-868 drive failed. The device failed to respond properly, unable to recover or retry.

  15. You are a genius!!! It worked also for me without alcohol. Many thanks

  16. I haven’t tried canned air yet, but I’ve used a microfiber cloth wrapped around a flat calendar card several times, and a couple times with lens cleaner. I can’t burn a printable disc, but i can burn a regular CD. Go figure.

  17. Thanks for this, worked first time!

  18. IT WORKS!!! thanks a lot

  19. hasn’t worked for me! I now get this: “Untitled DVD” is too large to fit on the disc. Remove some files and try again.” and ia m burning 24MB on a DVD

    • You have a different problem. Finally have a solution to share:

      You might have multiple bad disks in the batch You have. Basically, your best course of action is to click on the disk, then do “get info” (command “I”). If it says the disk has zero space, it’s a bad disk.

  20. Yes! It worked! Thanks!

  21. […] properly and can’t recover or retry”. I’d done some housework by following this with alcohol and dishcloth, and it did […]

  22. thank you, your trick worked the first time cheers

  23. Thank you! As I see with others, your detective work and “fix it myself” determination helped many people who would otherwise have given up and figured the drive was damaged or irreparable. Mine worked perfectly after using the credit card and micro cloth with alcohol method. Thanks so much for sharing….

  24. thank you it’s work with me

    macbook mid 2009
    15 inch

    thank you ones agin.

  25. Smivlar Says:

    Absolute genius thank you so much! used the credit card technique, worked first time 🙂

  26. Still works! Thanks v much

  27. Jack Frost Says:

    Microfiber and credit card worked with no alcohol. I can’t believe this worked on my old MacBook pro from 2012. Thank you so much!

  28. matthew erlinger Says:

    your a life saver I even went and bought a portable dvd writer and couldn’t get it to install correctly so I started searching and found your solution and it did wonders !!!! thanks a bunch

  29. It didn’t work I get the same message

  30. It worked for me! Thank you!!

  31. ANDREW OMAKA Says:

    Thanks a lot, it worked for me too. microfiber cloth with a card. macbook pro mid 2012

  32. Shaimaa Says:

    thank you a bunch! It worked for me …. I moistened the microfiber with a perfume though 🙂

  33. Raymond OC Says:

    I just replaced and installed a brand new superdrive (GA32N) in a 21,5 inch 2010 iMac.
    The previous one had physical damage on the mechanism from someone forcing a disc inside.
    Anyway, the brand new drive wouldn’t read a cd or dvd. All the discs just kept ejecting after a few seconds. I tried all the other methods. SMC and NVRAM reset. I thought it might have been a software issue because of installing Catalina on an unsupported mac. I even tried an old cd laser lens cleaner with the little brush on the disc. Someone suggested lying the iMac flat and inserting the disc. It only worked a couple of times. But, on my first try with a dry microfibre cloth from my spectacles and a credit card it worked. I recall cleaning cd laser lenses on vintage cd players from the 1980’s that were in storage for a long time and they also worked again.
    It seems the laser lens gets coated with a thin hazy film of atmospheric pollutants after some time.

  34. wow thanks so much this worked and I did it without alcohol!

  35. Well done, you saved me from bying new blank dvds with less than 16x speed. At it is said that a dvd drive which cannot supply a sufficiently high speed can be a possible reason for the error message. Worked for me without alcohol and a microfiber cloth attached to a card only on the lower side, fixed by scotch tape.

  36. Constance Says:

    Worked for me too! Perfect solution; easy. Used a piece of an old cotton pillow case and a little alcohol. Thank you!

  37. I tried this on my Late 2008 15” MacBook Pro and it didn’t work. I still got the same error message. I repeated few more times and still was getting the same error.
    Then I changed the burning speed to 2.4x (the slowest one) and it magically worked, even though it had not worked before the first cleaning.
    By the way, interesting to see how many people still burn CDs and DVDs. I’m burning my first one in more than a decade 🙂

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