When the CD format was first announced decades ago, one of the features highlighted was its durability. CDs were advertised to fare better than vinyl or cassette. In a way it is true: CDs and DVDs do have certain advantages over older media, especially in terms of durability. But even though this media has its advantages, it also has its own durability issues. First and foremost is scratching. Find out what to do when it happens to your favorite CD or DVD — and how to make it playable again.
The biggest enemy of CDs and DVDs is scratching. Optical media that suffers from a deep enough scratch will result in it becoming unplayable. But if the scratch did not really damage the data layer of the CD or DVD then there is still hope.
Before you start repairing your CDs and DVDs, an important step you should take is actually knowing the technology surrounding optical media. A CD or DVD carries digital data. Much like a vinyl album, the data is read in a spiral. But instead of the data beginning at the outer part of the disc like vinyl does, data in CDs or DVDs begin at the middle. The data is represented by pits and grooves and this is read by a laser. The laser does not physically touch the CD itself. Problems arise when a scratch causes the laser to get redirected, which results in the CD skipping. Scratches that run from the center outward is not that bad. It’s the scratches that run parallel to the path of the data tracks that are cause for concern. But the worst possible scratches are the ones on the other side of the CD, the label side. Underneath this side is a mirror-like surface where the laser is reflected. Damage this and you’ll only be able to use the CD or DVD as a coaster.
One of the ways to repair a scratched CD or DVD is by cleaning it. Sometimes, a smudge or a dirty spot will prevent the laser from reading the data. A soft lint-free cloth will be more than sufficient to clean the CD or DVD. When wiping a CD or DVD, make sure to wipe from the center outwards, never in a circular motion.
After cleaning the CD, inspect the surface again and find out if there are scratches. If you find some and it’s jus concentrated in a particular part of the disc, just concentrate on that area. There’s no need to buff up the whole disc. Some good homemade remedies include using toothpaste or plastic cleaner. Apply it on the scratched area and rub it. Be careful though. Use a light touch when rubbing these substances because it could get too abrasive and may just damage your CD more.
A better alternative is to use a CD repair kit. There are many commercial products out there that are guaranteed to repair your CD or DVD. These kits are not that expensive so give them a try.
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