CDs and DVDs are quite durable, but they also get used quite often, especially, if it is a console game disc. With time, scratches may occur all over the disc making it harder for the player to read data on it. This may lead to slower reads on portions of the discs, and a disc may just stop working, if it is damaged too much.
There is still hope: scratches can be fixed if you are motivated. You can fix most of the small scratches issue right in your home using simple products, most probably, already in your possession. If the disc has some chance of survival, the below mentioned methods should be able to fix it.
Warning: Some of the methods mentioned below also have a slight chance of further damaging the disc. So keep that in mind before following any of the methods.
Things To Consider While Fixing
Before we move on to fixing the disc, we are listing some things that you should keep in mind to make sure your don’t damage or waste time on the disc.
- Before starting, make sure the problem is the disc and not the player that is playing it. You can use the disc on another player to make sure the problem is with the disc.
- See if there are any holes in the disc instead of scratches. If the data is completely ripped from any area of the disc, it cannot be fixed now and there is no point of wasting time on the below methods. You will have to get a new one.
- While fixing the disc, don’t grab the data side of the disc with your hands. Dirt and oil can make reading the disc more difficult. Furthermore, you should also wash and dry your hands properly before handling the disc to further cut down chances of damage.
- While cleaning the disc with anything, always stroke from the middle of the disc to outward in a straight line. The data on the disc is written in concentric circles, so it’s best to try avoiding damaging a long track of data.
Method #1: Clean the Disc
This is the safest method and in most cases solves the issue. You should first go for this method, even if you are willing to get the disc to a professional. This will not fix any of the scratches on the disc, but it will get rid of all the dirt and grease that may be causing the problem.
Sometimes, the scratches on the disc might seem big, but the disc can still work. It is the dirt and grease on it that is actually preventing it from working properly.
To clean a Disc, you can hold it under running warm water to get rid of all the dust. If there are still any dirt or grease left that seems to be not coming off, then make a mixture of liquid soap and water and clean the disc with it. Do not use any product that can damage the plastic surface!
While cleaning, use a soft lint-free cloth and like we mentioned above, stroke from the center of the disc to outwards. Once cleaned, dry the disc completely by shaking off all the water and dry in room temperature. Never use any towels or other such material to dry the disc, and don’t even think about heating it up.
Before putting in the player, make sure it is perfectly dried. Otherwise, you might short circuit the reader. If the disc is still not working, move to another method.
Measuring the Importance of the data on the Disc
If the cleaning didn’t work, and you are thinking about fixing the scratches now, it is better to hold and understand what you may lose if anything goes wrong.
If you don’t have a backup of the data, you may be at risk of losing everything when attempting to modify the disc surface property with methods such as polishing. This is potentially dangerous to your data.
If the data is irreplaceable and if you don’t want to take any chance, leave this to professionals and move on to the last method where we explain how a professional can help.
Method #2: Polish The Disc
You can polish the disc with Toothpaste, peanut butter (non chunky one) or car polishing product (like, Turtle Wax) to smooth the surface and make the scratches a bit more even. We are going to use toothpaste, if you are going to use anything else, please read the instructions first.
The idea is that scratches disturb the normal operation of the laser used to red the data. By re-polishing the protective surface, there is a chance that the laser will be able to read the surface again.
We need a toothpaste (not a gel) for this purpose, and it must not contain any kind of crystals or other such overly abrasive substance. To make sure it is free of any damaging particles, apply it on a plain surface and rub it with your finger to see if it is smooth or has any particles in it. You could try on an unimportant disc as well.
Apply the Toothpaste (or the product you are using) to a soft lint-free cloth and start rubbing the disc from center to outward. You will polish the whole disc this way, but specially keep your focus on the area where scratches are located. However, be very gentle and stroke lightly to prevent further scratching.
You can apply more toothpaste if it is required and make sure you stroke each area at least 10-15 times. When you are done, clean the disc with water and dry it like we did in the Method #1.
Method #3: Heat It Up
If all above fail, then it is time to heat things up a bit. Yes, we mentioned above that you should not even think about heating the disc, but if things get desperate, increasing the temperature of the disc can actually fix it.
The polycarbonate on the disc has a really low melting point and with a little warmth, the scratches on it might become a bit readable.
To warm it up, you can use a lamp with a 60 watt bulb. Turn the lamp on for 5-10 minutes so it will heat up properly. After that, hold the disc diagonally in front of the bulb about 3 inches away (you can put your finger in the middle of the disc to hold properly). Keep rotating slowly and do this not more than 20 seconds, otherwise, you may damage the data on the disc.
When you are done, put it in the player while it is still warm and see if it works.
Method #4: Take it to a Professional
If all the above methods fail, then it is time to step aside and let a professional handle it. Take the disc to any near music or DVD rental store that also have old CDs. They have dedicated machines for this purpose, which otherwise would be very expensive for you to buy if you want to fix a single disc.
Below is a video demonstration of how these professional machines can help fix your disc:
They will most probably fix your disc and will charge a tiny fee of less than $5.
Tip: If you manage to fix your scratched disc with any of the above methods, burn it immediately on a new disc. Even if the disc is fixed, it will most probably have a short lifespan now, and may stop working again without a fix. Furthermore, in future keep your discs in good cases so you won’t have to go through all this hassle again.
If you have any questions or know any other working way to fix a scratched disc, let us know in the comments below.