Determining whether dvd scratches will affect playback
February 15, 2008 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Is there any way to determine, quickly, whether scratches on a DVD affect playback (without playing the entire disk, including extra features)? I know there's a $$$$ machine that does this, so one solution might be to figure out what sort of people buy those machines, and then try to persuade one of them to run my disk through it...
posted by jimmyjimjim to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you have some automotive polishing compound it'll buff the scratches tight out. In a pinch toothpaste can work.
posted by sanka at 7:27 PM on February 15, 2008

before you start buffing, try some ChapStik

i usually dab like a dozen little dots, then rub it in with my fingers for a few minutes. wipe well with an old T-shirt, and try it.

makes it smell ... interesting, too.

real bad ones may take a few rounds.
posted by KenManiac at 7:48 PM on February 15, 2008

There's a few software tools to scan DVDs and report the level of correctable / non-correctable errors. Nero comes with a tool for this, DVDInfo (trial version) is another.

They're fairly dependant on the quality / reporting capabilities of the particular drive, so they're not terribly accurate for absolute measurements, but they're both OK for an indication of relative quality.
posted by Pinback at 7:51 PM on February 15, 2008

There is a big disparity between players (both in your computer and set-top) in their ability to play back damaged discs.

That said, you could probably skip through it at 32x on a cheap DVD player and get some idea if the disc is going to hang or not.
posted by wfrgms at 8:11 PM on February 15, 2008

Or put it in your computer and try copying the entire contents to your HD, just to see if it finishes. If you can copy the data, you can play it from the DVD. It's exactly the same read process, just a lot faster.
posted by Class Goat at 8:19 PM on February 15, 2008

Attempting to copy the DVD sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Copy protection schemes often mean that a DVD playable in a set top DVD player isn't copyable to a PC - even software such as AnyDVD isn't infallible.

With that said - I've got two DVD drives on my PC and found discs that will work in one drive but no in the other. The weirdest part is that it's not consistent. Disc 1 might only work in drive D, and disc 2 might work only in drive E.

Brasso metal polish is reviewed pretty well as a scratch remover. I've tried it on some of mine and it seems to do pretty well. Just make sure you have the right cloths (or buffing bits if you want to use a dremel).
posted by krisak at 9:15 PM on February 15, 2008

I have found in my experience that scratches that go from the middle out are FAR more likely to play than scratches that go "around" the hole.
CD and DVD technology is designed to skip over scratches to some extent , but if the scratch runs along the groove, it cannot be skipped over.
This is a general rule of thumb, and there are exceptions.
Also, from my time in the video rental industry, fingerprint smudges and grease and dirt are WAY worse than scratches when it comes to playback. I don't know how many times people brought in DVDs complaining that they wouldn't work, only to have me wipe off their greasy prints and pop it in our test player.
posted by JonnyRotten at 5:59 AM on February 16, 2008

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