Mac Mini scratched my DVD
March 25, 2008 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Mac Mini scratched my DVD -- anyone seen this before? (photo inside) What should I do?

I popped a brand new DVD in the slot, and for about a minute nothing happened, except the noises of a computer struggling with a disc.

Then it popped back out, and it looked like this. Almost pretty.

Never mind salvaging the DVD -- I'll download a torrent with a clean conscience. (I guess I could try the toothpaste trick on the DVD first.) Is this a familiar problem to anyone? Did I do something wrong? What should I do? I have subsequently played other DVDs in the Mini without problems, but am wondering how likely this problem is to recur.
posted by snarfois to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Silly question, but there wasn't another disc in the drive at the time, right?
posted by DMan at 3:47 PM on March 25, 2008

Got a throwaway DVD you can stick in there and see if the problem repeats itself?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:56 PM on March 25, 2008

It's time for a trip to the computer doctor, I think, to see about a replacement drive. I wouldn't trust that one anymore.
posted by Class Goat at 4:18 PM on March 25, 2008

Response by poster: DMan: I think I'd have noticed when it came out, but I've been known to be very absent-minded, so I can't rule it out... Although I wouldn't expect the slot to take another disk if that were the case.
posted by snarfois at 4:23 PM on March 25, 2008

Another maybe silly question (I gotta ask because I've never seen ANYTHING damage a disc like that) - is there a possibility that you received the disc in that condition? To me it looks sorta like something you might have about halfway through processing an optical surface (but I don't know anything about how DVDs are made so others may critique the plausibility of this theory). I mean, I've seen the interior of an optical drive and I just can't figure it making those kinds of scratches - unless there's something going on inside a computer that I don't know about. Maybe what you're owed is a replacement disc?
posted by nanojath at 4:28 PM on March 25, 2008


nothing will screw up a dvd like Apple's slot loading drives

yeah, your drive is kaput
posted by Oktober at 4:29 PM on March 25, 2008

Do you/did you store anything on top of your Mac Mini? They are not perfectly flat on top, dead center, and that's where the DVD drive mechanism is located. Even a thin book resting on top of a Mini is bad, and may cause the DVD drive to press down...
posted by shino-boy at 4:31 PM on March 25, 2008

Seconding shino-boy's suggestion.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:41 PM on March 25, 2008

Irrespective of that, there's no way it could do violence like that to a DVD without damaging the drive head.
posted by Class Goat at 4:45 PM on March 25, 2008

I have subsequently played other DVDs in the Mini without problems,

Now that's pretty strange, I must admit. Right now I'm leaning toward the "the disk came like that".
posted by DMan at 4:59 PM on March 25, 2008

I like shino-boy's idea. Pressing down on the top of the case (or putting an object there) could make it rub somewhere it shouldn't. Minis are very well-engineered, but a side effect of that is that there's like zero room for error.

Agree that the drive head itself must now be damaged, anyway, even if it still seems to work.
posted by rokusan at 5:26 PM on March 25, 2008

Response by poster: Oktober: "nothing will screw up a dvd like Apple's slot loading drives" -- so, is there a history of this? Seen anything similar?

The DVD was definitely unmarked when I put it in. It's part of a 4-disc set, which I've watched in its entirety before.

The pattern is so weird I briefly wondered whether it was a decorative feature I hadn't previously noticed. No idea how it was made. The surface also feels different to the touch now -- not smooth anymore, slightly sticky. (Not as in tacky, just a bit more friction if you brush the surface.)

I'm pretty sure there was nothing on top of the Mini...

I'm also worried that the drive head could've been damaged. Would this sort of thing be covered under warranty?
posted by snarfois at 5:51 PM on March 25, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, and as for the repair shop: I'm already foreseeing the same problem I had last time -- if they can't recreate the problem on demand, they won't fix or replace anything. So I guess I have to wait until this gets terminal, possibly screwing up a few more disks?
posted by snarfois at 5:53 PM on March 25, 2008

Best answer: Would this sort of thing be covered under warranty?

Yes this is most definitely an AppleCare-worthy offense.

"Sometimes it does THIS" (showing disc) is enough to get that drive replaced if it's under warranty. No question.
posted by rokusan at 6:08 PM on March 25, 2008

(Repair shops, if they're Apple authorized, get reimbursed by Apple and net out like any other sale, so they shouldn't have any objection to replacing it. Sending you away is sending away profit.)
posted by rokusan at 6:09 PM on March 25, 2008

Looking at that planetary-like pattern, something else in there must be loose / moving around to create it - it's not just been scratched by the laser sled or baseplate.

Don't have little kids who might have played "post the coin in the slot", do you?
posted by Pinback at 6:49 PM on March 25, 2008

Is there an Apple Store near you? A few minutes at the free genius bar might tell you everything you need to know.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:58 PM on March 25, 2008

Best answer: The only plausible mechanism I can think of behind scratches like that is the insertion/ejection mechanism losing its grip on the disc, which then just flaps about while getting ground up by the spinning drive hub until it finally flukes its way to the centre, at which point the laser would totally fail to find a track under the new tattoo job and the drive would spit it out. I would not trust that drive any more, and I'm sure that if you took your new piece of industrial art with you when you sought a replacement, it would be forthcoming.
posted by flabdablet at 4:31 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've worked on macs for years, and i have never seen a slot-loading drive do ANYTHING like that. Sometimes there are scratches, but they just look like.... well, like scratches. I would guess that if that did happen in the optical drive, there was something crazy in there with it that caused it.
posted by sluggo at 9:17 AM on March 26, 2008

Best answer: I've never seen a scratch pattern so elaborate (and aside from a ruined disc, somewhat beautiful ...) but I have seen something similar. i don't think it was from a slot loading drive, but in this instance, also Apple hardware, a small plastic part and a spring from near the spindle broke loose and was stuck in there. Any disc put in the drive would get scratched up.

If you have AppleCare, take it to a Genius Bar or an Apple Authorized Service Center. Bring the disc along as proof, and insist they replace the drive. There is obviously something really wrong with it.

Good luck!
posted by kuppajava at 10:06 AM on March 26, 2008

You've already got your answer, but just to make you feel better: I had a first-generation iMac in 1998. That computer's CD drive scratched up a couple of my audio CDs with a very similar pattern (it wasn't as intricate as yours-- only few circles here & there, still playable in most other CD players). It only scratched intermittently, and I rarely used the drive, so I never got around to having it repaired. But you're not the only person who's had a Mac cut up discs with circles.
posted by holyrood at 4:50 PM on March 26, 2008

You might also care to amuse the staff at your local video library by asking them if they could repair your disc with their expensive polishing machine. Hell, it might even work.
posted by flabdablet at 7:53 PM on March 27, 2008

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