Help me save this DVD!!
December 19, 2008 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I ruined a valuable DVD-R with scratches and need to fix it, pronto. Help!! Time issue as family wants to watch it on Christmas.

I have a DVD of holiday memories. I thought I was taking good care of it, but a crash of a pile of discs left this one out of the case and with quite a bit of damage. Given that the physical media is scratched, my primary goal is to copy it to a new, unscathed DVD-R. I have thus far been unsuccessful.

First, the scratches are just on the bottom and I see no deep gouges, just superficial scratches. Nothing has damaged the top layer (it was protected with a stick-on label). So the data should all be there.

I have tried copying the disc with Sonic MyDVD for XP, and Roxio's Toast on Mac. With Toast I have even tried the slow data recovery option. After running for 14 hours of the program trying to recover the data, I quit it out.

I then went out and purchased the DVD Dr. Advanced Optical Disc Repair System. I have run the DVD through twice and I must say the abrasions on the bottom seem to have lessened, but only to be replaced by some other scoring from the center to the outside of the disc.

That DVD Dr. came with a drying cloth and some felt for "buffing" but the instructions are lackluster. I'm not sure if I should just buff the entire disc, how much to buff it, or even how to buff it. I know the general rule for optical media is to only go from the center to the outside in a straight line, but... Ughhh.

I feel looking at this disc that it SHOULD be recoverable but I'm frustrated, at the end of my rope, and the clock is ticking as I need to mail it (or a copy of it) to a family member for holiday viewing.

Please help me hive mind!
posted by arniec to Technology (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
An old friend of mine used to swear by Brasso.
posted by cashman at 8:52 AM on December 19, 2008

This might help. The article mentions metal polish (e.g. Brasso), and I've repaired a couple of discs myself using that method. Another thing I've heard mentioned is car polish. I'd advise giving the disc a good wash with mild soap and water afterwards though, as there's no guarantee the chemical residues won't cause further damage.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:55 AM on December 19, 2008

the scratches are just on the bottom

That's really the only place that matters. The laser reads from the bottom.
posted by trinity8-director at 8:56 AM on December 19, 2008

I've used toothpaste (the white cream kind, no whitening action) with really excellent results. You just use it to buff off the surface scratches, rinse really really well, and VOILA! A disk read for the copying. :)
posted by gwenlister at 9:11 AM on December 19, 2008

That's really the only place that matters. The laser reads from the bottom.

Yes, but the data is just under the top. If you gouge the top, data is destroyed. If you scratch the bottom, you can shave off a layer, or in some way patch the layer, and the data is still intact. The distance from bottom to data is much thicker than top to data.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:17 AM on December 19, 2008

My son had scratched a DVD, and we took it to Block Buster, and they ran it through some type of machine that they use to try to clean up scratched DVD's. Worked great after.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 9:22 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Try using this combo

If the scratches are deep then go from 220 grit to 4000 grit (from an auto place) and then use this stuff (don't skip a grit, each additional layer will make the scratches finer and finer until they go away)
posted by zeoslap at 9:24 AM on December 19, 2008

I've salvaged CDs by giving them a rub-down with a smidge of olive oil. It fills in the scratches enough I can do a one-time read.
posted by jferg at 9:25 AM on December 19, 2008

I'm putting in another vote for Brasso metal polish.

The surface of 5th generation iPods is a type of clear plastic (acrylic?) and I've used brasso and a microfiber cloth to restore them from horrible scuffed to mint condition.

Use small amounts, and slowly work your way around the disc in widening circles and you should be able to polish out any surface scratches and scuffs. Brass won't help much with really deep gouging and such, but for the kind of damage that comes from a disc being out of the case and shuffled around it should do the trick.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 9:36 AM on December 19, 2008

Another solution I've found to a situation like this (counterintuitive as it may sound) if none of the physical solutions work, is to rip and re-burn the disc. Free programs like DVD Decrypter will spend countless attempts at retrieving data from a particular disc sector if you let it run long enough, and your re-burn will be flawless.
posted by stuckie at 9:39 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Several movie rental places also offer disc repair using something like this, which basically heats and irons the disc. Works much better that the abrasive remedies.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 10:15 AM on December 19, 2008

If you have a Family Video in your area, call them up and ask them if they have a disc resurfacing machine available to use. I have used their services many times @ $1.00/disc. It is an easy price to pay to save you from repurchasing something that is worth a lot or is priceless (as your disc is).

If you don't have a Family Video, call around to other video rental places (as others have suggested here) and see if they have the same tool available to you. These work great, and can repair even the most damaged of discs.
posted by Brettus at 11:17 AM on December 19, 2008

I agree with quintessencesluglord and BozoBurgerBonanza - take the DVD to a used CD store or video store and they should be able to run it through their professional machine probably for free.
posted by doorsfan at 11:56 AM on December 19, 2008

Take it to a video rental place because they have thousand dollar machines that do this pretty well. Failing that, toothpaste (Metacafe link). Seriously. It's worked on every scratched disc I've rented.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 11:59 AM on December 19, 2008

« Older Is there a reference for changes to ms word rtf...   |   Help me celebrate global orgasm day! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.