Is there software to unlock the region on a DVD drive?

Is there software that can unlock the region on a DVD drive or a region-free DVD drive?

CD/DVD drive problem

I live in England and my work involves travelling to many countries around the world. I take a Sony Vaio VGN-S1VP laptop PC on my trips abroad. Because the DVD drive has become locked on Region 2, I can’t watch a DVD movie bought in a country that isn’t in Region 2.

Sony told me that it was the company’s policy to lock the DVD drive and it was not possible to make it region-free. The notebook’s DVD writer is a Matshita UJ-812. Is software available that can unlock the region of DVD drive and make it region-free, or could I buy one that is region-free that I could install in the laptop?

Answer

It is possible to change the region five times in Windows XP/Vista/7/8.1/10 by pressing the Windows key plus the R key and then entering devmgmt.msc  in the Run box that comes up. Doing that brings up the Device Manager. Note that in Windows 7/10, entering a feature’s name, such as device manager, in the Start => Search box brings up a clickable link (above the Search box) that takes you to it.

Finding DVD Region using the Device Manger

In the Device Manager, open DVD/CD-ROM drives, right-click on the entry for the DVD drive and click on the Properties option in the menu that comes up.

Open the DVD Region tab in the next window, as shown in the image below. You will see a warning in that window that says that you can change the region five times only. However, the DVD drive manufacturer can change it a limited number of times thereafter. After that, you’re stuck on a particular region for good with that drive.

Unlock the region - Device Manager - right-click on the CD/DVD drive - DVD Region tab

Unlock the region – Device Manager – right-click on the CD/DVD drive – DVD Region tab. Click on the image to view its full size

The idea behind regional locking is bad, if only because many movies released on DVD in the USA never make it to the UK or Europe. Thankfully, many home DVD players (not to be confused with computer DVD drives) are now region-free and can therefore play any DVDs.

With a computer’s DVD drive, you can either choose to buy only imported (US) Region 1 DVDs wherever you are in the world, or make the DVD drive region-free.

The drive’s firmware, DVD decoder and Windows are all involved in the region-locking of a DVD drive

The firmware of DVD drive itself, the DVD decoder software, such as PowerDVD or WinDVD (or, more rarely a hardware DVD decoder adapter) and Windows XP/Vista/7/8.1/10 are involved in the region-locking of a DVD drive. All three of these must be set to the correct region before it is possible to play a region-encoded DVD for that region. Even if the DVD drive is itself region-free, Windows (as was explained and shown above) requires a region to be set for the drive in the Device Manager before it will play a DVD.

A way of making a DVD drive region-free is to download and install a version of the drive’s firmware that doesn’t have region protection. However, if the drive manufacturer hasn’t created region-free firmware for the drive, if you can find it for a particular drive, it will have been modified by a hacker, which makes using it a risky matter. You should search for reports on the web on any such firmware before you install it.

There are several tools that claim to be able to unlock a DVD drive and make it region-free. I found the following link to a reputable software developer by using the search query: tool to unlock dvd drive region. It found links to several other similar tools.

DVD Region Killer-

http://www.softpedia.com/get/CD-DVD-Tools/…

Even if the DVD drive is region-free itself, you have to hack both the DVD player software and Windows to make the system region-free. You can visit a guide, now out of date, that provides the relevant information here:

http://www.digital-digest.com/dvd/articles/region_detect.html

It provides links to firmware patches and a list of utilities that can get around the region-change limit for many software DVD decoders. I have no idea if any of them are still available or if they work with Windows Vista/7/8.1/10, but it gives a good idea of what is required to make a DVD drive region-free.

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