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How to Repair a Scratched DVD or CD

  How to Repair Scratched DVD
belchonock / 123RF

belchonock / 123RF

We were all there. You lend a buddy a copy of your favorite DVD and she comes back as if she had used it to tear the shingles off her roof. Sure, you could go out and buy another copy, but that will cost you precious Amazon dollars or a longer trip to Best Buy. Fortunately, there are a few ways to fix a scratched DVD or CD before you deny the irresponsible guy you once called a friend.

Before we move on, it should be noted that this is the best way A scratched disc either replaces it with the store where it was purchased or by contacting the manufacturer. For example, many video game publishers will send you a new copy of their title in exchange for the damaged copy and a small fee. You should also keep in mind that all of the following methods can be used to further harm your discs, even if they are carefully followed by our policies.

It is important to note that these methods do not work with Blu-ray Discs. These discs have a harder coating that is more difficult to scratch and damage. The downside is that the Blu-ray disc usually becomes unusable after scratching and needs to be replaced. Minor damage can be corrected with a microfibre cloth, but the data density and layers prevent one of the options described below from working well or even being advisable. Of course, bug fixes on the best Blu-ray players can help to ignore scratches.

It's also a good idea to back up your DVDs, CDs, and Blu-rays by copying the data to a hard drive. Also known as ripping. So your music and movies stay as long and protected as you need – assuming your hard drive is not damaged – and if you still want physical copies, you can just burn them to a rewritable disc.

There are all sorts of ways how you can damage a disc, but it is important to determine how deep a scratch is or what the disc has failed before proceeding. The first trick is to recognize that the problem is actually the disc by trying to play it on another device with a disc drive or inserting another disc into the original drive.

What you should know about you begin

How do scratches on discs work?

A CD or DVD consists of layers. At the top is a layer of plastic, printed with the label on the surface. Data is stored on the disk in the form of ones and zeros. When a disc is printed, a laser burns tiny pits into the plastic, so that the surface consists of various pits and flat surfaces called "lands." Underneath is a layer of reflective aluminum, and it's important: with a CD or DVD player, the disc is reading, a laser is running along it. The laser detects whether it is running over a pit or a land before the aluminum reflects the laser back to the player.

The lower layer of the disc is finally a layer of polycarbonate, which should protect the data from damage. When this protective layer is scratched, the path of the laser can be changed, hindering its ability to accurately read the pits and areas. In order to fix the disc, one must either polish the scratch or fill it with a transparent substance, so that the laser can wander through to the data.

Five Tips Before You Begin

Although We Cover Different Methods If you want to clean and rewet your discs, it is important to remember a few important rules if you want to avoid headaches during the process.

Step 1: Wash and dry your hands before handling your glass. It is surprisingly easy to deal with the sensitive data printed on the polycarbonate layer of a disc, and both fat and oil are known to cause playback problems, even if the disc shows no signs of physical damage. Better yet, put on a pair of latex gloves if you accidentally leave them lying around.

Step 2 : The best way to clean your disks with any material is in the middle of the disk and working straight out. This allows for better hold during cleaning and prevents the data printed on the polycarbonate layer from being damaged. The reason for this is that the data runs in a spiral around the disk like on a record. Since the disk rotates so fast, the reader must be able to compensate for missing bits of data, and if a scratch is just running from the center of the disk to the edge, it is much easier for the algorithm. Catch the error and fix it automatically.

Step 3: Tray loading drives are more likely to read a damaged or scratched disc than slot-loading drives. If possible, it's a good idea to use one of these drives if you're trying to save a CD to reduce the number of variables. Step 4: Since the data layer on the surface of polycarbonate is so close to the top layer of the disc, that scratches and dents on the label can lead to read errors, similar to a reflective surface. Store all your discs in suitcases or on spools and treat them with the inner ring to avoid damaging the data.

Step 5: The best way to fix discs is not to scratch them first place. It sounds silly, but using good covers and coils can greatly reduce the chances of damaging a game or DVD, which in turn saves the hassle of repairs.

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