How To Recover Data From Scratched CDs And DVDs

Most of you might have experienced problems with scratched CDs and DVDs. It’s due to scratches your DVD and CD player is unable to read the data in the disc giving rise to reading errors. In the case of audio CDs, the CD skips when we play it.

What really happens when you insert a scratched disc in your player?

A CD’s/DVD’s data is recorded on a metal layer inside it, a silvered layer on commercial CDs, which is usually golden on CD-Rs. The metal layer is located inside a transparent plastic covering known as polycarbonate which is used to protect the disc’s metal layer.
Your CD/DVD player utilizes a laser beam to read the metal layer. This laser beam passes through the plastic layer and reads the metal layer. If the plastic layer is scratched, the beam will be unable to pass through it, resulting in a read error or skipping the music.

So when your CD/DVD is scratched you don’t really lose your data permanently. In other words only the plastic layer of the disc is damaged. You can fix this problem by removing the scratches on the plastic surface which act as an obstacle to the player to read the data which is on the metal layer.

How to remove scratches from the CD/DVD?

1. Firstly whenever you see a scratch on a CD/DVD wash the CD gently with a little detergent, using your fingers to clean it. Make sure you don’t use sponges as they can scratch the CD/DVD more. Now insert in the disk in the drive and check if it’s working, if it doesn’t then follow the next step.

2. If the above doesn’t work then just polish the CD with a little toothpaste. This actually works wonders. Moreover you don’t need to buy any professional cleaning kits. Polish the scratches with a cotton swab, rubbing gently the paste-imbued swab over the scratches until they disappear or until you notice that you have removed them as far as possible. After clearing the scratches, wash the CD in water. Sometimes there is a possibility that the paste may create small scratches. Don’t worry they’ll be small and can easily be removed.

3. If the problem still persists then use a metal polish- Brasso in the same way as described above. After your done rub Vaseline on the CD, very gently (do not press hard), from moving out from the centre to the rim.

4. Now it’s time to test your disc. If the disc starts working then it’s great. But if it doesn’t, then repeat the above steps again.




13 comments for “How To Recover Data From Scratched CDs And DVDs”

  • Remember to use tooth*PASTE*, not gels or any of the other silly crud that comes in tubes nowadays!
    Because, oh, yes….it works.

  • This article couldn’t have come at a better time. I just stumbled upon it fantastic now I’m going to try and recover my backup DVD’s of music 😀

    – Dwayne Charrington.

  • I’ve done this before, It really works.

  • Mr Candid

    instead of vasoline i’ve had better luck with furniture polish, (the spray kind like pledge, after i buff out the scratches with toothpaste i rinse off the disk with water ,blot dry with a clean paper towel and then very lightly mist the disk with furniture polish and with a clean paper towel i spread the polish and then gently buff it out, i have about 90% success using this method

  • Frank

    Wow, I stumbled upon this at the right time! I had a scratched disk of a game I love and wanted to install again on my computer. I just followed the steps involving the toothpaste and it is currently installing. I hope it works considering it usually fails at about 78%

  • ZTN

    Thats all fine and dandy until you scratch the other side of the disc.. the really important side, the one with the metal film that the data is stored on. Usually under the label.

    Scratch that.. forget it.

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    My disk is totally screwed I reapeated the steps 17 times on my camcorder(I am using mini disks)it still says disk error and goes SSSRRR SRRRR SSHHHRRR its kinda weird any other plans :\

  • Looks like the disc is dead….
    cant help it 🙁

  • Anonymous

    Recover Data From Scratched CDs And DVDs on Mac by Mac recovery data recovery software:

  • I_Love_Ads

    Ummm…This article is completely wrong. Data on a CD/DVD is NOT recorded on the metal in the plastic. The data is on microscopic impressions on the plastic. Go ahead, put one under a microscope. The metal is simply a reflective material for the laser. This is why they are called “optical” drives. The laser needs to *see* the impressions. It’s also why writing to disks is referred to as “burning” because your writer is actually making these impressions on the plastic media. Look on the back of disks you’ve burned. You can see where data was written. Most manufactured disks don’t look like that because they are ‘stamped’ by machines…not “burned”.

    Yep, this article is over 7 years old but if the writer doesn’t even know how the disks work I’m not sure I’d trust his advice on caring for/cleaning them.

  • Troy votes whig

    DUDE, the laser burns the data onto an aluminum substrate, anyhow look here

  • Troy votes whig

    Scratches on the disk cause the laser to refract therefore causing errors. the plastic is not textured at all

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