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I was looking at the Lenovo ThinkStation P series workstations. Here's an image of the four systems in that line:

Workstations

The last three appear to have their DVD drives mounted vertically.

A quick web search reveals that several sites say that, yes, optical drives (CD, DVD, and Blu-ray) can operate safely and reliably when mounted in the vertical orientation.

But how is this possible? Wouldn't the CD/DVD/Blu-ray fall out when the tray ejects, unless there were some sort of locks to hold it in? If such things exist, are they much of a nuisance to use?

Lenovo does not specify the exact manufacturer and model of the drive that is included in any of the systems (at least, I have not found this literature), and sales support could not tell me. For example, the only description I have found for the optical drive that ships with the P500, for example, is "16x DVD +/- RW DL."

How likely do you think it is that I can truly operate the optical drive in the last three workstations when they are vertically oriented as shown?

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A design on laptop drives has the spindle fixed vertically in the center of the tray, instead of having it move up into the hole on the disc. The disc snaps on to the spindle, just as it would snap into a DVD case, keeping it from falling. These are usually in small form factor desktop PC's also.

enter image description here

Another design used in most desktop PC's is to have 4 small tabs on the tray that hold the disc vertically until the tray is closed.

enter image description here

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    The inner ring you see on the tray design is also to hold MiniDVDs, however because there is no clips on the inner ring you can not use MiniDVDs with a tray loading drive while vertical. – Scott Chamberlain Jun 4 '15 at 5:17
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    In the last picture, the little tabs and the cd tilting against the tray has always worked quite well. All but the earliest and the really cheap CD/DVD drives have them. – Fiasco Labs Jun 5 '15 at 4:16
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The common optical drive loading mechanisms are as follows:

  1. Tray-style: Most common. Drives that can be mounted vertically have trays with clips that grab the discs.

  2. Slot-loading: Often seen in vehicles. Discs are slipped into the slot and a mechanical arm grabs them and draws them inside the drive.

  3. Caddy-style: Expensive and rare. Discs are placed in a caddy, which is a casing with a shutter. The caddy is inserted into the main drive and the shutter at the bottom (generally made of metal) provides access to the laser.

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    Ease of use for a vertical tray would definitely be less than a horizontal one. Whether it's too much of a nuisance is subjective though. – Karan Jun 4 '15 at 1:44

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