Remove Scratches from CD or DVD compact disc?, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Since asking Infopackets Readers for their opinion on the best solution for Removing Scratches from CD or DVD compact disc, I have received a land-slide of great suggestions and insight.

So far, the consensus has been that many users have successfully reported using ordinary house-hold cleaners, such as wood polishers (Pledge), Brasso (a metal polisher), and toothpaste (an abrasive tooth polisher) for small surface scratches. For deep scratches, by far the best recommendation I've received is to take the disc to a local DVD video or CD music rental store and have them repair it. These stores are most likely have an in-home repair unit and most are willing to fix your disc for $3 or $4.

In either case: once the disc has been repaired, it is recommended you use a disc copy program to make a backup and use it in place of the original, and then store the original in a safe place. I personally recommend Ashampoo CD Burning Suite -- it's dirt cheap, easy to use, and does darn near every CD format you'll ever need.

For really stubborn discs that seem hopelessly stubborn, I recommend using IsoBuster to extract the data; if successful, you can use your favorite CD or DVD burning software to write yourself another disc and store the original in a safe place.

Please note that it is not recommended that you try any of the below solutions unless you have problems playing the disc in your machine (and only after you've cleaned the surface as I mentioned in Part 1 of our article).

Die-hard Infopackets Reader 'Pippe' writes:

" Dennis, here's some more helpful information you share with your Readers as to how scratches can cause a disc to skip or become unreadable.

For starters, data contained on hard drives (I.E.: the "C" drive in your computer) are stored in separate 'tracks', arranged in concentric circles; on a CD or DVD ROM disc, however, data is stored on a single 'track' that spirals from the center of the disc to its circumference. The disc is read by a laser, which penetrates a protective layer of plastic located at the bottom of the disc. Some CDs contain a very fine layer of 'foil' between the layer of plastic, while others will have the foil on the outside of the disc, which is also used (on the reverse side) for the label.

In terms of how the data is stored on the foil: a previously burned (or pressed) CD surface contains 'pits' and 'lands'. Lands are flat surface areas, whereas pits are tiny depressions in the layer of foil. Light (from the laser beam) hitting a pit is scattered, whereas light hitting land is reflected directly back to the CD / DVD reader, where it is then interpreted by the computer as a '0' or a '1' (also known as a 'bit' of data). The 0s and 1s are then formed together to produce binary, which is interpreted by the computer as a byte of data (there are 8 bits in a byte).

So, when you use a solution to clean a disc, you are actually cleaning the plastic so that the lands and pits are better recognized under the laser beam. In the case where there the foil is actually part of the label (and not sandwiched between two layers of plastic): a damaged outer layer (the 'label side') in almost any case will prove to be fruitless, especially if portions of the label are scratched or missing. "

Patrice C. and a few others recommend using ordinary toothpaste:

" I have tried several of those CD/DVD cleaning kits -- most consist of some kind of solution and a special cloth. If cleaning is all you need, most of those products work just fine. Then again, any cleaning solution that is safe for plastics will do the trick.

What most people want is a way to magically remove scratches and nicks, and the best substance for that (in my opinion) is ordinary toothpaste. Toothpaste contains tiny particles that gently 'buff' your tooth surface, and it works beautifully on CDs/DVDs, too. Careful though -- toothpaste is abrasive and if you aren't careful, you may cause more harm than good.

For application: using either a very soft cloth or just your fingers, gently rub the disc with a small dab of toothpaste mixed with a little water and you can remove all but the worst scratches. Unless you have seriously gouged the surface of your disc, the toothpaste will do the trick. "

'Indi in Phoenix' agrees with Patrice:

" I've repaired *many* badly unplayable CDs and DVDs with toothpaste. If the scratches haven't penetrated to through the plastic layer to the metal/dye substrate, it can work wonders. The trick is to pick the most likely scratch first and be just aggressive enough to smooth off the sharp edges of the scratch that are scattering the laser. I usually estimate the location of the problem by how far into the disc it fails. Remember that CDs and DVDs are read from the inside toward the outside. If it fails in the middle of a movie, I might look for a scratch about halfway out from the middle (actually a little farther because inside tracks contain less data than outside tracks due to their 'ring' size on the disc). You don't have to completely remove the scratch. In fact, in some ways the disc might even look worse because the area you're working in will become a dull spot. Just don't do it over the entire disc; I just do it a bit, see if it works in the player, then do it some more until the disc works.

As a last resort, I try a CD-DVD recovery utility on the computer (and sometimes even in multiple drives) since Computer drives are usually a little better at dealing with errors and the recovery utility can fetch most of the data. It is often surprising how one drive might not read a DVD, but another has no problem with it. Once I get the disc working, or recover the data, I make a new disc as a back-up just for extra insurance. "

And, Steven R. concurs with 'Indi':

" I just recently bought a DVD from a garage sale. When I brought it home and played it, it would freeze every 5 minutes because of all the scratches on the disc. I then took some regular toothpaste and a tissue and rubbed it on the DVD in a circular motion and it took the scratches out completely. Who cares it your DVD's smell minty fresh? "

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