CD or DVD Drive Slow? Change it from PIO to DMA Mode

Dec 12, 2007
Updated • Oct 13, 2015
Tutorials, Windows tips

When you burn a CD or DVD in Windows, your DVD burner usually uses the DMA (Direct Memory Access) mode. Basically, this allows you to transfer large chunks of data onto your DVD, using as little CPU memory as possible. In other words, it helps you burn your DVDs faster.

However, Windows has this weird concept of switching your drive to a lower mode, depending on read/write errors. This means that after around six errors, your DVD drive will automatically shift to PIO mode. This requires more CPU memory to function, which in turn greatly slows down burning speed. If your drive is in PIO mode, burning one DVD will take you more than an hour.

There are a few ways to switch your drive back to DMA mode, depending on whichever one you choose. I’m going to provide two of them. First, right click My Computer > Properties. Go to Hardware > Device Manager > IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. Click on the ‘+’ sign next to it and then right click on the Primary or Secondary IDE channel (depending on which one your burner is connected to) option and select Properties > Advanced Settings. Look at the entry in the ‘Current Transfer Mode’. If it says ‘PIO’, you know that the mode has been changed.

The First Method

In the first method to revert back to DMA mode, in the Advanced Settings tab, there is an entry labeled Transfer Mode. Click on the drop-down menu next to it and select the option ‘DMA if available’. Click OK on the Advanced Settings tab when you are done. Windows will ask you if you want to reboot for these settings to take effect. Allow your PC to reboot. Then go back to your Primary or Secondary channel (whichever you changed) and look at the Current Transfer Mode. If it still says PIO, this method is not working for you.

The Second Method (This is a more radical one)

The second method is to simply UNINSTALL your drive. Go to the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers and right click on the channel to which your drive is connected. Select ‘Uninstall’ and go ahead and uninstall the drive. Then reboot your computer. When it reboots, Windows will automatically detect your drives. Once, this is done, go back and check your drive mode. It should automatically be in DMA mode. If not, select the Transfer mode as DMA and then reboot again. This time it should definitely work.

Note: I realize that most of you will be a little apprehensive about the second method. None of y’all know me and I cannot guarantee you that this will fix your problem. All I can say is that I’ve used this method (more than once and on different PCs!) and it worked for me every time. However, if you don’t want to try uninstalling your drives, that’s fine. I’m not forcing anyone to do anything they’re not comfortable with. Via [onthegosoft]

Article Name
CD or DVD Drive Slow? Change it from PIO to DMA Mode
The guide provides you with two methods to change a drive using the slower PIO transfer mode to DMA mode.

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  1. fishsticks said on March 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Thank You! Fixed my slow dvd drive a treat with the second method!

  2. Zija said on February 2, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Thank You..Second Method Worked For Me ..It Was Perfectly

  3. fer said on January 1, 2012 at 9:55 am

    It has taken 4 hours for my burn so far… i looked at the device manager and it IS in dma mode… now what?

  4. Louis said on June 7, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Thankyou for The Second Method , It works perfectly :X :X

  5. Anonymous said on March 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Just perfect solution ! THANKS :)

    1. Martin said on March 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      Great that you were able to fix your slow optical drives with the guide. I experienced a similar which made me write that guide, happy that it helps others as well.

  6. headhole said on October 23, 2010 at 9:17 am

    second method worked like a swiss clock!
    thx so much

  7. koy said on May 31, 2010 at 10:15 am

    thanks so much. it worked like charm. i wish i had knew this before i bought the new one.

  8. Jake said on March 21, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I thought my drive had broken – You were 100% right, it had switched to PIO, did step 2 uninstalled secondary IDE ATA/ATAPI , reinstalled, rebooted and drive is back to DMA and speed. Thankyou So Much :D

  9. Kenny Lobo said on March 4, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I have a unique problem . I have copied mp3 files on cd’s recently through roxio & nero , but when i play these cd’s on the PC as well dvd player the files play upto a certain extent eg. 100 files , but when i select the files after that the system and well as dvd player goes into a hang . I have tried recording on other cd’s also , but same behaviour . when I insert a cd that has been recorded earlier it play perfectly OK till the last file . This behaviour is happening since the last few days , Could you please advise me the cause and provide me a solution .

  10. Marcus said on November 25, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for that. The 2nd step worked a treat for me.

  11. Super said on June 24, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Super man…The second option is absolutely fantastic..It works

  12. Stretch said on June 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    thank you very much. the second option worked perfectly.

  13. Jeff said on February 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Thank you soo much! This problem was causing me many headaches and your solution solved the problem immediately!!!!!!

  14. David said on February 9, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Thank you SO SO much. The second step fixed my problem, so relieved over here.

  15. Johnathan said on November 17, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Thanks, It requires the second step in order for the problem to be fixed.

  16. Seth said on August 19, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Thank you sooooo much! I had to do the second step but it went down smooth. I went from 2x write speeds to 16x again. I can’t say thank you enough!

  17. Liamm said on July 1, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks, worked fantastic.

  18. Seoman said on March 15, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks! this was exactly my problem.

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