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How to recover data from Damaged CD-DVDs

Nov 7,2018 - (Free)

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CD-DVD Data Recovery is a quite sensitive and stressful matter of concern while you came to know that the discs in which you stored your sensitive and important data are being scratched, damaged or unreadable. However, with time they’ve lost their significance to other data storage devices like flash drives, external hard discs, and USBs. Nevertheless, there are a lot of other utilities where CDs still play a vital role; most common the installations or specific music or movies. But, it is very much common that with continued use, CDs/DVDs tend to get scratched and they increase every time a scratched CD is accessed. So much so, that after a point, a scratched CD/DVD becomes unreadable. And a scratched CD could mean bad news – data loss! Now you will worry about how to attempt CD-DVD data recovery, isn’t it?

CD-DVD data recovery software and tools

While a lot of CD-DVD data recovery software and tools are available for purchase, it isn’t always necessary to invest money in them. There are a lot of things you can do at home to fix a scratched CD and recover your data. This article lists down 7 super tricks to recover data from scratched/damaged CD/DVD to help you reclaim your data.

Tips to protect your CD-DVDs from damage or data loss


Note: Before using any of the below-listed methods, carefully read the associated precautions and warnings.

#1: Masking tape method

Masking-tape-methodBefore proceeding you should come to terms with the fact that holes in the foil layer of a CD are NOT repairable, not even by professionals. The best way to move past them is to skip them altogether so that at least the remaining data recovery can be accessed and saved elsewhere.

  1. Hold the disc with its shiny side up in clear view of bright light.
  2. See if any holes are visible on the shiny side.
  3. Flip the disc and mark the areas holes with a permanent marker.
  4. 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 noise while running but you’ll be able to access at least 70% of the data on it.

#2: Wax method


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

#3: Clean the disc


A disc can appear to be scratched even if it not owing to dust, oil or other contaminants on the surface. They might prevent it from playing properly and hence give you the idea that it is probably scuffed. Thus, attempt to simply clean the disc properly in order to fix the scratched disc.

  1. Wash the disc with warm water to remove dust.
  2. If you can see dirt accumulated on the surface, gently rub it with a finger while washing.
  3. 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.
  4. While cleaning it, rub the CD in radial motion (starting near the center and straight toward the outer edge).
  5. 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.
  6. Test the disc. If it still doesn’t play, try another CD player; it may handle scratched better.
  7. If it does play, immediately take its backup.

#4: Light-bulb method

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

  1. Switch on a 60-watt incandescent filament bulb.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. While the CD is still hot, play it in the CD drive.
  5. If it plays, save all data on it to the computer.

#5: Polishing Method

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.

The logic behind this step is that polishing a scratched CD removes some of the outer plastic coatings thus making the scratched shallower. To polish the CD, household baking soda based toothpaste is most commonly used.

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

#6: Use data recovery products

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. However, you may also refer to recovery toolbox for cd

#7: 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.


So the next time you try to play an old CD/DVD and it doesn’t budge, try out one of our handy tips above to fix a scratched CD/DVD and get your data back. If you know any other then we are happy to hear from you.


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