How Can You Fix Scratches and Recover Data on a CD?

Have you ever wish that you could restore your CD back to its original playing condition? Well, in this case, toothpaste and other household items can be used to fix scratched CDs.

How Can You Fix Scratches and Recover Data on a CD?

While movies and music are increasingly evolving to become fully digital, many people still collect their favorite content from DVDs and CDs.

These disks, sadly, are not always the most robust. All it takes is a couple of scratches to make them worthless.

Luckily, the end of your collection does not have to mean a scratched DVD or CD. You can make your scratched discs sound brand new with a little bit of patience and a gentle touch.

How to Fix Scratches and Recover Data on a CD

Masking Tape Method

You should come to terms before proceeding with the fact that holes in the foil layer of a CD are NOT repairable, not even by specialists.

The easiest way to get past them is to bypass them entirely so that you can reach and save at least the remaining data elsewhere.

  • Hold the disc with its shiny side up in clear view of a bright light.
  • See if any holes are visible on the shiny side.
  • Flip the disc and mark the areas holes with a permanent marker.
  • Take 2 small strips of masking tape and stick them on top of each other over the area you have just marked.

Note: The CD might make a noise while running but you’ll be able to access at least 70% of the data on it.

Wax Method

  • Apply a very thin layer of Lip-balm / Vaseline / liquid car wax/furniture wax / neutral shoe polish on the shiny playing surface of the CD.
  • If you’ve used any wax, allow it to dry (if specified so by the manufacturer).
  • Using a clean, soft, lint-free cloth, wipe off the excess in a radial motion (inside-to-outside).
  • Test the disc. If it plays, immediately backup the data on it since this is a temporary solution.

Clean the Disc

Even when it is not due to dust, oil or other contaminants on the surface, a disc may appear to be scratched. They can prevent it from properly playing and thus give you the impression that it is probably scuffed.

Thus, just try to properly clean the disk to patch the scratched disc.

  • Wash the disc with warm water to remove dust.
  • If you can see dirt accumulated on the surface, gently rub it with a finger while washing.
  • To clean it more effectively, use a mild detergent or liquid soap dissolved in water. You could also use alcohol for cleaning the disc. However, in that case use a cotton swab to clean.
  • While cleaning it, rub the CD in radial motion (starting near the center and straight toward the outer edge).
  • To dry it, avoid using cloth or towel. Shake the CD to drip off excess water and let it air-dry. Do not place it in the sun.
  • Test the disc. If it still doesn’t play, try another CD player; it may handle scratched better.
  • If it does play, immediately take its backup.

Light Bulb Method

This method might not work every time, but it is worth a try. Plus it is simple.

  • Switch on a 60 watt incandescent filament bulb.
  • Thread the CD into your index finger and hold the shiny side at a distance of 10 cm (4 inches) from the lamp facing towards it.
  • Hold it like that for not more than 20 seconds while rotating it slowly around the threaded finger. DO NOT hold it under the light-bulb for more than 20 seconds since it might start melting from the heat.
  • While the CD is still hot, play it in the CD drive.
  • If it plays, save all data on it to the computer.

Read: How to Recover Deleted WhatsApp Images on iPhone & Android

Polishing Method

The logic behind this step is that polishing a scratched CD removes some of the outer plastic coating thus making the scratched shallower.

To polish the CD, household baking soda based toothpaste is most commonly used.

  • Apply a small amount of toothpaste (paste not gel) to a clean, soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Gently rub the cloth on the scratch in a radial motion (starting at the center and rubbing out to the edge).
  • Do this 10 – 12 times or for a couple of minutes applying more toothpaste as necessary. Do not apply too much pressure.
  • Wash the CD with warm water to remove the toothpaste and let it air-dry.
  • Test the disc. If it plays, copy its contents elsewhere immediately.

Warning: This method should be used only as a last resort since it can further damage the disc. Read the instructions carefully before going ahead.

Use Data Recovery Software

Quite a few automated applications can achieve data recovery from damaged optical media including CD/DVD/Blu Ray Discs etc. One such quite efficient program is Stellar Data Recovery Professional.

Through advanced algorithms, this software attempts to read bad sectors on the disc by reading at very slow speed multiple times.

Professional Refinishing

If the CD still doesn’t play, take it to music or DVD rental store and have it professionally refinished. Consider this option only after cleaning the disc so that it can be made sure that the CD is not damaged any further.

Final Say

So try one of our handy tips above to fix a scratched CD / DVD and get your data back the next time you try to play an old CD / DVD and it doesn’t move. If you know anyone else, we will be glad to hear from you.

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