Why Can’t Windows 10 Play DVDs? (Windows 11 Too)

Are you unable to play your DVDs on your Windows 10 PC or Laptop? This issue can be a major inconvenience and a huge source of worry for users with an extensive DVD collection. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of fixes that you can easily execute yourself and get your DVDs to run on your Windows 10 PC or laptop in no time.

Why Can’t DVDs In Windows Just Play?

Windows 10 or 11 can’t play DVDs because there’s no built-in DVD codec, outdated DVD drivers, or corrupted specific registry entries. You can run the Windows Troubleshooter to diagnose and fix the problem automatically, or you can manually find what’s causing the issue and fix it accordingly.

A DVD is placed in the DVD tray of a computer.

1. No DVD codec

After moving to Windows 10, Microsoft dropped the built-in DVD codec accompanying WMP (Windows Media Player). For this reason, if you’re trying to play your DVD using WMP, it won’t run.

The same issue exists with Windows 11, where the necessary codecs for playing DVDs are missing.

Therefore, if you’re trying to run DVDs using the default player and it’s not working, it’s most likely a result of missing codecs. 

The problem can be easily fixed by downloading and installing a codec package or a different DVD player.

How to fix

One of the most straightforward ways to deal with missing DVD codecs is by installing a third-party DVD player with the necessary ones.

A few notable DVD player apps that you should try include:

  • VLC Media Player.
  • 5KPlayer.
  • Kodi.
  • PotPlayer.
  • KMPlayer.

Some of these media players can be heavy and lag if you’re running a low-spec system. 

In that case, you’re better off using the Windows Media Player that you get with Windows 10 or Media Player that comes with Windows 11. 

In my opinion, the preferred solution is to install missing codecs needed to playback DVDs or other file formats.

So, what to do about the missing DVD codecs? 

Well, you can install codec packages that’ll enable the default built-in players to run DVDs.

Some codec packs that you can look into include:

  • K-Lite Codec Pack: A free codec pack that you can try if the Media Player Codec Pack doesn’t work. This is the recommended go-to codec pack, covering various codecs for trouble-free playback.
  • Media Player Codec Pack: It’s free and covers almost all the popular DVD codecs.

You can download and install the codec packs like any other Windows software.

Once installed, restart your system. You should now be able to play your DVDs on Windows 10 or 11.

2. Outdated or corrupted DVD driver

List of drivers in the Device Manager.

If your DVDs don’t run even after switching to a different media player or installing the DVD codec packages, you might have an issue with the CD/DVD drivers.

For those who don’t know, a driver is software that helps a hardware component communicate with the operating system.

Therefore, if the CD/DVD driver is corrupted or outdated, you’ll face issues when playing DVDs on your system.

To quickly check if you have any problems with the CD/DVD driver, follow the given steps on your Windows 10/11 PC:

  1. Right-click on the Start button. (The Windows logo button in your task tray.) 
  2. From the pop-up menu, select the option Device Manager.
  3. Look for the option – DVD/CD-ROM drives
  4. Click on it to expand it. You’ll find the name of the DVD player attached to your Windows PC.
  5. If you see a yellow-colored exclamation (!) mark or a red-colored cross (X) sign, there’s something wrong with the driver. In that case, you’ll need to update or reinstall the driver.

Now, there might not be any crosses or exclamation marks on the driver.

You may also not see anything listed under the DVD/CD-ROM drives option, even though you have a physical DVD player attached to your PC.

In both cases, move on to the next solution.

However, if the drivers show something is wrong, follow the following How to fix guide to update or reinstall the driver.

How to fix

A DVD ROM device driver shown in device manager.

If you find an exclamation mark or cross sign on the DVD/CD driver, then you can follow the given steps to fix it:

First, try to update the driver:

  1. Right-click on the driver and click on the Update driver option.
  2. A pop-up window will appear. Click on Search automatically for updated driver software.
  3. Wait for a couple of seconds to a few minutes as your computer searches for the driver.
  4. Once it finds the up-to-date driver, click the Install button and wait for the installation to finish.
  5. Restart your computer. The DVD/CD driver should be updated now.

If updating doesn’t help, you can try to reinstall the driver:

  1. Right-click on the driver and click on the Uninstall driver option.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions and wait until the uninstallation process is complete.
  3. Now restart your PC
  4. After the restart, Windows will automatically try to find and install the up-to-date version of the driver.

Note: The provided steps work on both Windows 10 and Windows 11.

3. Registry errors preventing DVD playback

Command to fix DVD playback for DVD drives.

If you can’t find any drivers under the DVD/CD-ROM drives option, your Windows registry might be corrupted when heading into the Device Manager.

Fixing this should resolve the problem with the drivers, which, in turn, will let you play your DVDs.

How to fix

Important: To fix registry errors, you’ll need to change some of the registry values. Any accidents can break your Windows PC. For this reason, I strongly recommend that you take a backup of your registry before applying this fix.

To fix DVD driver issues related to the registry errors, follow the given steps precisely on your Windows 10/11 PC:

  1. Open Search and type in cmd. (Search is located in your task tray next to the Windows start button – the magnifying glass icon.)
  2. The Command Prompt app should show up as the Best Match. Right-click on it and select Run as administrator.
  3. Then copy and paste the following command:
    reg.exe add "HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetServicesatapiController0" /f /v EnumDevice1 /t REG_DWORD /d 0x00000001
  4. Press Enter and wait for the command to execute.
  5. Once done, restart your system.
  6. The DVD/CD-ROM driver should show up now. 

Apart from this issue, there’s also the chance that a registry entry got corrupted. In that case, you need to delete and reinstall that registry entry using the following steps on your Windows 10/11 PC:

  1. Open the Run dialog box by pressing Win + R.
  2. Type in regedit and press Enter. If a dialog box pops up asking for the Administrator password, type it in and hit Enter again.
  3. You’re now in the Windows Registry Editor.
  4. From the left-hand panel expand the following folders – HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E965-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}.
  5. After opening the folder, you should see the registry entries on the right-hand panel – UpperFilters, LowerFilters, or both. 

Note: If neither UpperFilters or LowerFilters is present, skip this step. Don’t tamper with any of the other registry entries.

  1. Right-click on these two entries and click Delete to remove the registry entries.
  2. Once done, restart your device.
  3. Your DVD player should now be recognizable by your Windows system.

4. Issues with the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers

An computer's internal optical DVD drive with an IDE interface.

Problems with the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers can also lead to DVD playback issues.

Without getting too technical, IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) and ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) provide an interface through which hard drives, DVD/CD-ROMs, etc., communicate with your system. 

At the same time, ATAPI (Advanced Tech Attachment Packet Interface) works inside the IDE to help add DVD/CD-ROMs, hard disks, etc., to the system.

For this reason, issues with these controllers can bring about problems in DVD playback.

How to fix

If you exhausted all other options and think the problem is with the IDE/ATAPI controller, you need to uninstall and reinstall them.

To do this, follow the steps mentioned below on your Windows 10/11 computer:

  1. Right-click on the Start button
  2. From the pop-up menu, select the option Device Manager.
  3. From the View menu, select the option Show Hidden Devices.
  4. Locate the IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers option and expand it.
  5. Inside, you’ll find a few controllers like – ATA Channel 0, ATA Channel 1, Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller, etc.
  6. Right-click on each of these controllers and Uninstall them.
  7. Once the uninstallation is complete, restart your system.
  8. After rebooting, your Windows 10/11 PC will automatically install the necessary controllers.

Now, see if you can run your DVDs on your Windows PC.

How to troubleshoot a Windows 10 that can’t play DVDs

How to run the Video Playback Troubleshooter in Windows 10.

The simplest way to figure out why Windows 10 can’t play DVDs and automatically fix them is by using the built-in troubleshooting feature.

On Windows 10, you can ask the system to troubleshoot DVD playback problems by following the given steps:

  1. Open the Settings app and go to Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
  2. In the Recommended troubleshooting section, click on Additional troubleshooters.
  3. Click on Video Playback.
  4. Select it and then click on the Run the troubleshooter button.
  5. A new pop-up window will appear with a loading bar and a message saying, Detecting problems.
  6. Wait for a few seconds to a couple of minutes until the process is complete.
  7. Once the troubleshooter has scanned the system for possible problems, it’ll display potential fixes with a button asking you to Apply this fix or Skip this fix. Click on Apply this fix.
  8. Again, wait for a few seconds to a couple of minutes until the “fix” is applied.
  9. Once done, the troubleshooter might ask you to restart the system. Just save any unsaved work and click restart.

After your system reboots, check and see if the DVD is working.

However, sometimes the Windows Troubleshooter won’t find any problems, even though you cannot play DVDs on your system.

In that case, you’ll need to try and manually figure out what’s wrong with your system and then fix it accordingly.

If this is the case, you’ll want to refer to the common causes and fixes explained in the previous sections.

You can also try running the troubleshooter for Windows Media Player DVD using the Control Panel.

To do this, search for the Control Panel from Search, type Troubleshooting in the Control Panel’s search box, click on Hardware and Sound, and then Windows Media Player DVD.

This list was put together to help you better understand the reasons preventing you from playing your DVDs and their respective fixes. 

How to troubleshoot DVD playback issues on Windows 11

Windows Device Diagnostic using the Command Prompt in Windows 11.

On Windows 11, the Troubleshoot settings are similar to Windows 10, but I’d like to offer a different method for forward compatibility.

Therefore, you must follow this method to diagnose why your Windows 11 PC can’t play a DVD.

To troubleshoot DVD playback issues on Windows 11, follow these steps:

  1. Open Search, and type in cmd.
  2. The Command Prompt app should show up as the Best Match. Right-click on it and select Run as administrator.
  3. Now copy and paste this command:
  4. msdt.exe -id Device Diagnostic
  5. Press enter.
  6. A new pop-up window will open, launching the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter.
  7. Click on Next, and it’ll troubleshoot potential problems keeping you from playing your DVDs.
  8. Wait till the process is finished and restart your PC

You should now be able to play your DVD.