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Old 06-22-2019, 10:52 AM
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Old DVD's have data on them but can't be read?


I found a stack of old DVD's (DVD-R and DVD-R/W to be precise) yesterday but when I play them on my PC only some of them are detected correctly. On others you can see that data is physically burnt to the disk but they are reading as blank when I insert them, the information isn't being picked up, this is happening on both my desktop and laptop.

Any ideas? I'm kind of curious what's on them.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:07 AM
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Try the trial version of ISOBuster which will recover only part of the data, on as many DVD readers as you can. If it can't recover the data, it's likely gone for good. If it works, you'll have to decide if it's worth the $40 for the full program.

There's a chance with the DVD-Rs, but the DVD-R/Ws are likely gone for good. The dye is different and was never intended for long term storage.

Edit: Also, if the discs have stick-on labels, remove them with a soak in warm water and dish washing soap. Labels can warp and throw discs off balance, making them unreadable.

Last edited by lingyi; 06-22-2019 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:19 AM
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Just because data can't be read with one player doesn't mean that they can't be read with ANY player. Try as many players as possible. I'll bet you'll find one that can read some or even all of the discs.
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:37 AM
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You didn't give the program you are using to look at the discs. This is quite important.

If it's the default autorun* on MS-Windows then that's probably the least helpful program to deal with such discs.

As noted, try something better.

One common problem with such media, esp. R/W types, is that they are multi-session. I.e., you can write something to them and then later add more. Each is a session. Officially they are supposed to "closed" before using. (On a write-once disc this also prevents adding more stuff later.) Some devices and software can handle unclosed discs, others can't.

Good disc programs will try repeatedly to extract bits to give you the best chance of recovering some of the data.

It was my experience very early on that the R/W types were horribly unreliable. So I stopped using those and went to write-once discs.

* Which, btw, you should have turned off for everything. Giant security hole there.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:11 PM
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Did you try selecting different sessions? https://www.isobuster.com/multisessions.php
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:16 PM
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In my experience, as long as the data layer -- the silverish coating where the data is written -- is intact, the data can be recovered. If that is flaking off, all hope is lost. As others have advised, try reading with different players and/or computers and/or programs. They are not all alike.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:36 PM
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Thank you for the answers everyone! I forgot to mention these are DVD's containing programs I recorded off TV about 15 years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Try the trial version of ISOBuster which will recover only part of the data, on as many DVD readers as you can. If it can't recover the data, it's likely gone for good. If it works, you'll have to decide if it's worth the $40 for the full program.
I've given ISOBuster a try and its detecting data held on the DVD's when Windows wasn't finding anything. Thanks, as you say I'll have to consider shelling out for the full version!



Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
You didn't give the program you are using to look at the discs. This is quite important.
Yes, I was just using the default Windows program, just the file system. I mean I was just sticking it in the DVD player and hoping it would detect it. As I mentioned to lingyl above ISOBuster is picking the information up, so that seems to be the solution, thanks.
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Old 06-22-2019, 05:34 PM
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One last question. I've decided to purchase ISOBuster but I rarely (read never) buy programs like this online.

On the purchase screen it seems to give the option to use paypal, but it still asks for my credit card details etc first. Is there a way to go directly to paypal and purchase it from there? Or am I worrying over nothing anyway.

I just don't like giving my credit card details out like that online.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-22-2019, 06:06 PM
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Switch the drop-down box that says "Credit/Debit Card" to PayPal. It's not you, that was a very confusing form.

Last edited by Reply; 06-22-2019 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 06-22-2019, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reply View Post
Switch the drop-down box that says "Credit/Debit Card" to PayPal. It's not you, that was a very confusing form.
Ah, I see, thank you!
  #11  
Old 06-23-2019, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
In my experience, as long as the data layer -- the silverish coating where the data is written -- is intact, the data can be recovered. If that is flaking off, all hope is lost. As others have advised, try reading with different players and/or computers and/or programs. They are not all alike.
Just a little nitpick - the data layer on a DVD of any type is sandwiched between two pieces of polycarbonate. It's not close to the surface as a CD is.
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mind's Eye, Watering View Post
Just a little nitpick - the data layer on a DVD of any type is sandwiched between two pieces of polycarbonate. It's not close to the surface as a CD is.
You are correct. I was thinking of a CD, where much of my data was backed up ca. 1990's. Some of the disk brands were prone to the backing peeling off near the outer diameter.
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Old 06-23-2019, 12:45 PM
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Glad to hear ISOBuster is working for you! Keep in mind that recovery can take a while, sometimes days. If you see the progress stop or stick at a certain percentage, let it be. It will eventually finish or error out.

Another reason a DVD may be unreadable is scratches, visible or not. A last resort would be to have the disc resurfaced/polished. Don't bother with any home machine or DIY (e.g. toothpaste, Brasso or plastic polishes) and they usually do more harm then good. Your local game store or library will likely have a resurfacing machine and will cost a few dollars at most to have a disc resurfaced/polished. Ask what they use before giving them your disc. If it's anything handheld (i.e. home level device), thank them and move on.

While the data layer on DVDs is contained between two layers, the adhesive holding the layers together on the outer edge of the disc can fail and allow air and moisture to corrupt that layer. If you see a half moon rainbow or crazing on the data layer, the adhesive has failed and that portion of the disc is corrupt.

If you're burning new DVDs, there are only two good blank DVD brands left on the market. Verbatim AZO (which is distinguishable by the AZO logo on the packaging (read this thread to recognize what to look for: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/...-AZO-packaging) and Taiyo Yuden which is very hard to find and expensive, especially in the U.S. As discussed in this thread: https://forum.videohelp.com/threads/...iyo-Yuden-DVDs, everything else is second grade or worse and will likely fail immediately or be found to be bad in the future.

Last edited by lingyi; 06-23-2019 at 12:46 PM.
  #14  
Old 06-23-2019, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomic Alex View Post
Thank you for the answers everyone! I forgot to mention these are DVD's containing programs I recorded off TV about 15 years ago.
It sounds like you recorded the equivalent of a VHS tape. I wonder if the issue is the format of the recording. Do you know what hardware you used to record the shows?
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Old 06-24-2019, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lingyi View Post
Glad to hear ISOBuster is working for you! Keep in mind that recovery can take a while, sometimes days. If you see the progress stop or stick at a certain percentage, let it be. It will eventually finish or error out.

<snipped to make response more readable only>
Thank you, yes its proving very useful. Also helps free up a bit of space now I don't need the actual DVD anymore!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
It sounds like you recorded the equivalent of a VHS tape. I wonder if the issue is the format of the recording. Do you know what hardware you used to record the shows?
Oh wow, it was a DVD-Recorder at my parents house, I have absolutely no idea of the make or model. ISOBuster seems to be doing the job though but I appreciate the answer.
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