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  1. #1
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    How to fix a scratched DVD?

    What is the best way to clean a scratched DVD?
    Has anyone had any REAL experience and success cleaning a moderately scratched DVD? What works for you?

    Googled results range from toothpaste, peanut butter, baby wipes, Pledge furniture polish to car wax and Brasso metal polish.

    Please provide details. Also interested to know how it works and why.


    And does anyone have any REAL experience with one of the CD DVD Scratch Repair Machines? Which do you recommend?

    Am interested in all solutions from the inexpensive to the professional.

    Maybe even Fred, Woody or Susan can chime in with their best tips.

  2. #2
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    It’s important to realise that manufactured DVDs are pressed and as such are much more robust than a DVD that’s been burnt to a DVD-r etc. The digital imprint burnt to a DVD-r is just burnt into a dye layer and there is only a very thin ‘varnish’ layer on top of that to provide mechanical protection. So go easy on the polishing!

    Cleaning a CD/DVD is counter intuitive – ‘logic’ suggests that cleaning with rotational strokes should be best but, in reality, this usually makes matters worse. Straight line cleaning strokes from centre to rim is actually best. This is how most of those cleaning gismos with a winding handle work.

    It is important to use a fine abrasive compound and (by hand) I’ve had some success with the metallic paint versions of the Tcut car finishing compound. I’m also told Goddard’s silver polish is very fine and works well but I haven’t tried it.

    Nevertheless, before you try any abrasive cleaning methods on a cherished DVD you should try to create a copy of it. I recommend giving Roadkil's Unstoppable Copier a go – it once rescued for me a Genuine Win7 DVD that had developed a hairline crack out from the centre hole!
    http://www.roadkil.net/program.php?ProgramID=29

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Chris Cooper; 2015-07-19 at 10:45.
    Remember rule #1: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

    Industrial electrical engineer, running a system building/repair business in Cornwall UK, for the last 15 years.

    Built my first computer in 1978 - in the days when you had to hand-solder in all the components
    and 16k RAM was considered extravagant!

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  4. #3
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    I'm not sure there's a "best" way to try to cure a scratched optical disk. You are attempting to repair damage and so it depends on the type and extent of the damage. There are some bad ideas though, that's clear.

    My experience is that there are basically 2 principles at work in all repair methods. The first is one that essentially everyone uses, and that's buffing or polishing. The idea is to remove some disk material and lessen or eliminate the scratches.

    Some kits add a second step. They provide a resin compound that adheres to the scratch and attempts to fill it in. This can be helpful for deeper scratches where it isn't safe to fully polish it out.

    As for success rates? Personally I believe I've failed more often than I've succeeded when attempting to repair such disks. On the other hand I have tried a lot of long-shot situations with little expectation of success.

    This has led me to the conclusion that the best route is to avoid the damage in the first place. Keep optical disks in their packaging or in a drive, they don't get damaged there. Most disk scratching happens because the disks are being stored loose on a desk or in a drawer. A bit of prevention is worth way more than any fancy repair kit.

    Of course we don't always have that control and once you are facing a damaged disk, you can only do your best in response.

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    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    Most disk scratching happens because the disks are being stored loose on a desk or in a drawer. A bit of prevention is worth way more than any fancy repair kit.
    +7 for that. A buddy at work had a half a dozen blank DVDs in a ziplock and carried it around for a few weeks, Not a one would work.
    I still have 4 of those little cabinets w the slide out drawers for the important stuff, ya know like my Office 97 SR2 install disks.
    David

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    Comes around, goes around

    "I still have 4 of those little cabinets w the slide out drawers for the important stuff"

    I have some of those also (little cabinets) that I use for CD's & DVD's with paper envelopes. I also have a number of plastic book-like cases that were formerly used to store 5 1/4" floppy discs; they are great for CD's and DVD's also.

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    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpiersn View Post
    "I still have 4 of those little cabinets w the slide out drawers for the important stuff"

    I have some of those also (little cabinets) that I use for CD's & DVD's with paper envelopes. I also have a number of plastic book-like cases that were formerly used to store 5 1/4" floppy discs; they are great for CD's and DVD's also.
    Gotta couple of them kicking around too, tough little cases!
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

  9. #7
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    Add to the previous poster concerning prevention, I recommend parents making working copies of their childrens' CDs, DVDs, and store the originals out of sight, out of mind; children, especially pre-teens, aren't always careful with CDs & DVDs.
    Also, everyone model patience, patience and more patience. Being in a hurry probably led to many scratches and related damage.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

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    Quote Originally Posted by RolandJS View Post
    ...children, especially pre-teens, aren't always careful with CDs & DVDs...
    Roland, it has been my experience that it is not only children/pre-teens that are careless with CDs/DVDs.

    I was still getting "hey Dad this CD/DVD doesn't work" even when my son was 25+yro.

    No wonder when I checked his room - CDs & DVDs scattered all over the floor & difficult to walk w/o treading on one.

    How could they possibly have got scratched?
    Computer Consultant/Technician since 1998 (first PC was Atari 1040STE in 1988).
    Most common computing error is EBKAC: Error Between Keyboard And Chairback
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coochin View Post
    Roland, it has been my experience that it is not only children/pre-teens that are careless with CDs/DVDs.

    I was still getting "hey Dad this CD/DVD doesn't work" even when my son was 25+yro.

    No wonder when I checked his room - CDs & DVDs scattered all over the floor & difficult to walk w/o treading on one.

    How could they possibly have got scratched?
    LOL, Ain't that the truth

  12. #10
    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    Let me amend my original comment to include children of all ages!
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, there is no way to repair clean a scratched DVD disc, especially with the methods you've
    mentioned in your post. If the scratches are deep enough you're gonna end up with bad areas of unreadable data.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
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  14. #12
    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coochin View Post

    No wonder when I checked his room - CDs & DVDs scattered all over the floor & difficult to walk w/o treading on one.

    How could they possibly have got scratched?
    What we need is another depression so kids appreciate and value what they have.
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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    Recovery of data off a scratched optical disk (OD) is possible. Just the data that is not effected by the area damaged. Every OD reader can handle certain kinds of errors better than other players (firmware/hardware dependent). They actually sell sets of test disks with progressively lengthening damaged areas to ascertain how well a OD reader can both plow through a damaged area or interpolate damaged data (make a best guess as to the damaged data) before freezing up or better transmitting gibberish before reacquiring the track.

    1. Clean the disk. Use lint free cloth and a OD specific (usually an ethanol dilution) or non-ammonium eye glass cleaning solution. Perpendicular light rubbing. Removable muck may be blocking the data. Nonabrasive cleaning cannot hurt the disk beyond whatever grit might be on the disk. See if it now reads.

    2. Try all the OD readers you own. This can include audio and video readers which sometimes offer superior error correction handling capabilities. A read only drive may be more capable of reading the disk than a read/write drive.

    ODs are polycarbonate; an extremely hard plastic. There are the factory pressed disks you buy retail and the recordable/rewritable disks you burn. The former the "light and dark" areas, pits really representing 0 and 1 (bits) are pressed into a polycarbonate surface, reflective metal layer usually aluminum applied, and on a DVD or BlueRay (BR) a back half applied and fused together. On a CD whether CD-R. CD-RW or commercially produced CD a thin coating a lacquer is applied over the metal layer. This is more subject to scratching and decay than any other disk. The recordable ODs work by an optical burner (laser) changing light and dark patterns (bits) it alters on a dye layer impregnated reflective backed disk.

    These light and dark areas are subsequently read by a laser. A scratched area can possibly block the reading of this data that survived the scratch.

    CDs, DVDs and BRs respectively have progressively higher data (bit) density. That means the same length or width of scratch will potentially corrupt progressively more data. Perpendicular scratches are less disruptive than parallel ones that scrape along a track. The deeper the scratch the less likely recovery. All data disks have some redundancy built in. DVD+R/RW are meant for data (and have better error handling and data transfer accuracy), DVD-R/RW for video/audio.

    3. Software to allow reading data up to the area or even better around the area (latter again can be OD reader dependent).
    Isobuster ($hareware) or already mentioned free Roadkill's Unstoppable Copier for Windows (many others)
    dd for Linux
    Stellar's Phoenix for Mac

    4. IF recovery is important to you then contact a professional data recovery service before proceeding further. This will cost some serious money.

    5. The area damaged can supposedly be lightly buffed out with baking soda toothpaste allowing the damaged area to be read through. It has never worked for me. This would be a last chance since you seem more likely to me to make an even bigger area of data loss so you definitely want to recover what you can first and then try this before the shredder or garbage can. This may be a better solution.

    Others use a filler (Vaseline) in the scratch that hopefully bends the light enough to allow the track to be read.

    Obviously if the damage is deep enough to obliterate the area recovery is not possible with any technique. Either way set up ahead of time and be ready to copy the damaged/missing data as soon as you can.

    Also it is possible some filler may hurt the OD reader or off gas onto the disk or nearby disks over time so I'd ditch the disk when either all hope is lost or data has been recovered.

    --------------------------

    OD care: The truth is as I have found, it takes very little to destroy a commercial audio CD. Leaving them down on a surface that has dust on it can easily scratch the surface rendering it unreadable at the point of the scratch. You do not even need to be aware of the disk(s) moving around much while working around them. I was truly dismayed at how vulnerable they are. The label side of a CD where the lacquer is applied is supposedly even more vulnerable though I have never damaged a disk on that side. This is also true with recordable ODs. Additionally the heat of a car can warp them into being unplayable and some dye formulations are vulnerable to fading in light over time. Additionally cruddy OD holders have off gassed coatings that have rendered ODs unreadable.

    If ODs are contemplated for critically preserving data for long times then use m-discs. They have special burners but can be read on all OD readers that can read the disk format. Available in up to 100GB sizes (multilayer BR-R; long burn times). Last for 1,000 years (est.).

    Otherwise OD-Rs are given 5 year lifespans by the National Archives with some serious plus or minus range meaning they don't know and different disks and batches of disks will vary widely. I would not apply 3rd party labels to the OD as they can damage the side they are applied, might off gas volatile components and unbalance the disk which spins at incredible speeds. You can write in the unmarked hub area and they sell archive quality marking pens. Store in an archive quality sleeve and/or protector. Store dark, modest humidity and cool (ISO9660).

    Fortunately "CD rot" appears to be relatively not as likely as once postulated.

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  17. #14
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    I recommend copy contents or make ISO files to USB flash drives or SD cards for long term storage.
    You can then make disc copies at will. That is, turn disc into disposable.

    One danger on long term storage: obsolescence.
    There may not be a device, software+hardware, to read it. But we have the same problem since magnetic tape days.

    Flash drives can last a very very long time ...
    if you do not power it up frequently, say, only one operation/execution a day. That is, less than 20,000 operations in 50 years!
    [Remember, we're not talking about # of writes, or write life. Read life is theoretically infinite. ]

    I have USB flash drives, SD cards, last more than 10 years by now, still 100% perfect.
    The key failure, if powered up frequently, is the SMD electrolytic capacitors (SMD: Surface Mount Device).
    Google Sandisk SD card failure to know more.
    To fix it, just cut out the bad capacitor. That is long time ago (4G and 8G introduction periods). Today SMD electrolytic capacitors can last over 10 years on the field. More important, its failure is no longer short circuit as previous does. That means only performance is affected yet the SD card still functions.

    Optical disc is no longer 'lasting 25-100 years' as initially projected/speculated. Optical disc is vulnerable to heat, radiation, mechanical stress (delamination), dust, pollution, and especially ultraviolet. Store them in a cool dark place.
    Still, optical disc will degrade by itself.

    On using flash drive/SD card as archive, you should at least do a read in 1-4 years. The power-up will also activate the controller chip inside to 'fix' soft errors: move data from bad memory cell to new cell, for example.

    No electromagnetic device can last indefinitely.
    There is still 'bit rot' in solid states memory cell.

    Thermal energy, residual from Big Bang, will forever be there to 'stir' things up. Sub-atomic particles always bounce around. Unless at absolute zero temperature, this energy is always there.
    Last edited by scaisson; 2015-07-30 at 21:44.

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  19. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    I recommend ... USB flash drives or SD cards for long term storage. ....

    Flash drives can last a very very long time ...
    if you do not power it up frequently, say, only one operation/execution a day. That is, less than 20,000 operations in 50 years! ....

    I have USB flash drives, SD cards, last more than 10 years by now, still 100% perfect. ....
    The National Archives (UK) lists Flash Drives as the least reliable for longevity of all the possible personal storage mediums. That report is dated 2008 and maybe things have changed since at that time flash drives were still relatively new and experience limited.
    https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/...rage-media.pdf

    But your anecdotal experience aside, I would prefer some authoritative references to support your enthusiasm for flash drive archival storage.

    There is also temperature dependent flash memory rot that occurs when voltage is not reapplied once a year that has kept me from using SSDs for long term storage. Consumer drive are rather good as long as room temp is maintained (almost 8 years extrapolated). Let that temp increase to 30C and it essentially halves the time. Much over that and it isn't pretty.
    http://www.flashmemorysummit.com/Eng...10_T1B_Cox.pdf

    No matter the flash drive or SSD, using a relatively new one (that has not already had degradation through use) should prolong storage readability. SLC NAND is likely the best for this purpose and of course the most expensive.

    It should be possible if there is a large enough market for non-volatile RAM makers to fab more stable chips manufactured specifically for powered down archiving.
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-08-01 at 16:31.

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