Recover Data from a Bad Burn?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Michel S. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

First, thank you for this very informative and welcoming website. My question today is in regard to a corrupt DVD disc. After having burned some of my favorite downloaded files to DVD disc (using the 'D-well' brand blank DVD), some files appear to be OK, but part of the DVD disc cannot be accessed at all. ;-( I am using an ASUS DVD writer and Nero 6.0 for my backup. So far, my computer friends haven't been able to help me with this issue. I'd certainly appreciate if you can help me to clarify this mystery. Thank you in advance! "

My response:

Most likely the issue has to do with the brand of DVD you are using (I've never heard of the "D-Well" brand before). However, the issue could also be related to any one (or more) of the following, including and not limited to: a bad DVD burner, buggy DVD writing software, a bad cable to DVD burner, a bad motherboard, or a corrupt hard drive.

Here are Two Golden Rules for ensuring a good burn (applicable to both CDs and DVDs):

1. Always run CHKDSK / Scandisk on your hard drive before you burn a disc. If your hard drive has file system errors, the corrupted data will may transfer onto the CD or DVD (and that's only if the burning software doesn't error out in the middle of the burn, first).

2. Always use backup / general CD / DVD writing software that incorporates some type of bit-level or checksum verification. This will verify that your CD / DVD is burned 100% and will not give you any surprises at some point in the future. I'm know that Nero has a verification feature that you can check-mark just before you start the burn; however, I don't remember coming across a separate feature in Nero (version 6) that allowed me to verify a CD or DVD disc after it has been burned.

On the other hand, I know for a fact that Genie Backup Manager offers bit-level verification at any point in the program; the verification option is in the upper left hand corner of this snapshot under the heading "Test Data Integrity"). If you haven't read the review on Genie Backup Manager, you can read it online our web site (link below). The GBM review is very informative and is part of a 6-point guide to backing up.

Genie Backup Manager Review

RE: Suggestions for when you encounter a Bad Burn

As for what you can do about your disc: try using it in another system and see if you can get the files to copy over to the hard drive; if you can, the problem is most likely a read-compatibility issue with your burner and DVD brand. In this case, re-burn the files on the other computer (you might want to test a few files before you burn them again to make sure they aren't corrupt).

If you have the same problem reading the disc in the other computer, then that pretty much guarantees that the disc is bad and there isn't much you can do to recover it. Corrupted data is much different than "lost" data that is recoverable as discussed in the article below. Nonetheless, you can give it a try ;-)

Recover Data from a Multisession CD or DVD?

One last thing: If you've checked your hard drive for file system errors and you're using bit-level verification software and you *still* get a failed burn, it is most likely a hardware issue. Try burning a CD with a different brand DVD or CD media (high quality media preferred). If that doesn't work, take your DVD writer out of the machine and test it with another (similar) PC. If it still fails to write, the problem is most likely the burner. Try using another burner.

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