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I remember back when (in 1985) CDs hit the market. “They are practically indestructible”, “you can jump on them”, “Spill Jam on them”. The appraisal had no limit. The CDs were the ultimate sound and storage system.

Now, we know better. If your CD or DVD gets a scratched surface – it’s virtually unreadable. Which Is why many make backup copies of their disks – before they get damaged.

What do you do, if you don’t have backups?

There are many freeware applications that may save the contents of a scratched disk, tho the end result will depend on how scratched the surface is. Here’s my tip on how to make the unreadable, readable – again.

Repairing the surface

There hundreds of special products promising to save your scratched discs. I have tried several, with less or no luck. What I found to be working, was something that you don’t usually associate with computers or Cd’s and DVD’s: Car Polish with Rubbing compound.

Yes, you read it correctly. I Did say: Car Polish with Rubbing compound. Whats more –  you need a Polish Pad made of Wool and a power-tool or similar (Use whatever you used when shining your car). Why this?

First of all; Car polish, rubbing, wool pads etc. are easy to come by, cheaper than those “specially developed” products and, its way better. Wool pads will actually work as a sandpaper and remove the scratches, leaving a smooth surface when done. It is not good enough to do this by hand as you need speed, heat and friction to get rid of those pesky scratches.

Here is how:

  • Apply the Rubbing Polish onto the disk’s surface, and smear it
  • Start your power tool and carefully run the disk back and forth over the rotating wool pad, until the desired result. Now and then, wipe it clean with a soft cloth to check your progress.

    Not every scratch needs to be removed – the worst ones are the tiny ones that covers the surface in all directions. You just have to try. Sometimes you get it running on the first go, other times it takes a bit longer.

Readable again

The reason this works is that a CD or DVD (and even Blu-Ray) consists of layers. The precious layer where data is stored, is somewhere in the middle of several protective plastic layers (or on the backside of it). So the data is rarely damaged. The damage is only surface deep – so to say – therefore it is possible to make a disk readable again.

After you have rubbed the disk, clean and rinse off leftover polish. make sure it’s dry before testing the disk in your player.

Personally I have saved many disks this way, both “Pro” disks and home-burned ones.

The “stuff” I’m using is called Innotec Easy Polish New Formula (and is available all throughout Europe). As long as you use something that contains rubbing – you’re good to go.

Best of Luck! Not every scratch need to be removed – the worst ones are the tiny ones that covers the surface in all directions.



About Thomas

Computer geek from the age of 7, which amounts to 30 years of computer experience. From the early days (when every computer company had their own OS) of DOS, Windows 1.0 through Seven...

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Comments

2 thoughts on “Save an Unreadable CD or DVD and Recover Data [How To]”

  1. Schyzoid says:

    Me brother taught me to use tooth paste, middle finger and water, rub disk radially. Rinse and dry, then test. Works in most of the cases.
    Cheers

  2. me says:

    Also works with tissue and fast right hand of a guitarist but takes many applications. I used marine boat restorer with rubbing compound and wax all in one but had to apply some regular car wax to shine it up and get rid of the haziness. It was a deep gouge, too.

Comments are closed.


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