One of the worst things that can happen to any type of optical disc, whether we're talking about CDs, DVDs or Blu-ray discs, it for it to get scratched. And by “scratched” I'm not referring to a tiny, minuscule groove, but rather about some serious damage, which renders your disc unreadable and the important information stored onto it unrecoverable. Well, what is there to do? Lose your precious data or do something about it?
Well, if you're determined to recover the information you've got stored on the respective disc, there are some solutions available, some more complicated (and expensive), while others are pretty simple and straightforward. However, since this is a guide targeting mostly people who don't really feel that comfortable around a computer or its accessories, we'll try to keep it as simple as possible.
But before going any deeper into this issue, let's take a quick look at the source of the problem. So, as some of you might know, the rear side of any CD or DVD is in fact a protective plastic layer. The actual data is stored in binary format on the metallic layer underneath, and is accessed by an optical drive's laser beam.
However, if there are scratches on the surface of the protective layer, the respective beam will not be able to accurately read the data, and hence errors (more or less serious ones) will occur. Which means that, in order to recover the data, you'll have to mend (or re-polish) the protective plastic layer.
As mentioned above, there are several ways to do this, some of which we'll cover in an article later on, in our Tips and Tricks area. What we'll talk about now is the simplest possible solution, available to pretty much anyone: toothpaste. Yeah, that's right, the stuff that cleans your teeth can actually also clean away the scratches on the disc.
There are several ways in which you can do this, but what we did was to put some toothpaste on the optical disc (actually, half the disc, in order to notice the difference between “before” and “after” applying this procedure) and then spread it gently and evenly over the surface of the disc with the finger. Then, we took a piece of cloth (cotton cloth, non-abrasive and quite smooth) and then rubbed it gently, but firmly, one very small area at a time, putting some more pressure on the areas where the biggest scratches were located. We continued this process for five minutes or so.
After taking care of each scratched area, we washed the disc and then dried it with paper towel (not pictured here, but we promise it was paper, which is less scratchy than a normal towel). The result? Well, the biggest scratches were gone, but a few minor ones remained, and several new (yet superficial ones) appeared.
The quality in the disc's behavior was quite visible. Initially, it took around 20 to 30 seconds for the CD-ROM drive to read the scratch CD and load its contents. After applying the toothpaste treatment, the time went down to 10 to 15 seconds.
P.S. It worked for us, but we can't guarantee the fact that this will work for you, so please, don't go scratching your perfectly fine CDs or DVDs just to test this method. We wouldn't want you to lose any precious data. However, if you do have a badly-scratched CD, go ahead, fix it!