Erasing data off of a CD?

Is there a way to erase all data off of a CD? And by CD I don’t mean a CD-R that you would buy at Wal-Mart to record stuff onto or a music CD. I mean a CD with a program on it, like a game or someting.

Is there a way to erase the data from it, or just make it unplayable (without destroying it)?

Without destroying the CD, I don’t think there is. You might be able to burn something over the data already imbedded, thereby corrupting the data underneath…

You can’t burn anything onto a manufactured (pressed) CD, there’s no dye inside. The only way to render the CD unusable is to physically damage it - snap it in half, cover it with paint, stick it in the microwave, etc.

Depends on what you mean by ‘destroying it’. Putting it in the microwave for a few seconds will definitely make it unreadable (and put on a little fireworks display!) without breaking it.

Well I want to make sure it looks normal when I’m done.

In that case the answer is no. Microwaving or scratching it in some fashion will leave obvious marks on the surface. Why do this anyway, it sounds vaguely like you’re asking about how to surreptitiously damage someone’s private property.

CD-Rs use an organic dye that reacts differently to different heat levels (you melt it with the laser). CDs are stamped in aluminum. Think of it as having a wax cylinder vs. a vinyl record. You can’t erase the record, just break it.

Alright, cool, looks like I’m SOL. But now I really want to microwave a CD, just to see what would happen! Thanks everyone for the input.

Alright. So you want to microwave a CD. More power to you. A few safety suggestions:

Someone in this thread said a few seconds. In my experience you NEVER want to exceed 5 seconds. Most of the time the “lightshow” effect will be finished within three seconds. After about 4, all the microwave energy is getting concentrated in a few hotspots on the remains of the CD, which leads to two things: brown/black burnt spots on the CD, which tend to lessen the asthetic value of the “Lightning storm frozen in time” effect that remains etched into the CD after you microwave it, and secondly and much more importantly, you get smoke from the burning plastic begin to fill your microwave. This is a BAD THING[TM].

Another very important reminder that I’d like to make is that it’s hard on your microwave for it to be running with out some moisture content inside the oven to absorb the engery of the microwave. I suggest filling a coffee mug with water and sticking it in the back corner of the microwave.

Another consideration is the amount of label on the front of the disc. To get the best visual effect, you want to nuke the cd label side down. You’ll still see the sparks if you have it label side up, but it’s just not as fun IMO. Also the disc gets very hot, and CDs with labels across the entire surface of the disk tend to smoke more than those with minimal ink on them, even when you’re making a concious effort to minimze the cook time. Idealy, if you can find a CD that has no ink label at all, those are the absoulte best to use. (Microsoft and AOL ocasionally put out disks where the label is actually holographc stamped foil inside the disk itself.)

Now, when I microwave a CD, I like to have it raised up off the floor of the oven, to get better air circulation, so that it’ll cool faster afterwards. Something as simple as an inverted paper bathroom cup makes a good platform to place it on.

Finally, be sure you have the lights off in the kitchen when you press the start button. Trust me on this. :cool:

Exposing CD’s to direct sunlight decreases their shelf life. Maybe 20 minutes in a tanning bed would corrupt the data without evidence of wrong-doing. Shot in the dark.

Actually what you could do is this: Grab a blank CD, and buy a program that does the cover art for cd’s (like the stomp thing). Scan your cd in a scanner, and then use that image as image to put in the cover art generator.

I’ve tried to microwave regular CD’s, and nothing has ever happened.

When i microwave a CD-R, however, I get the lightshow. Can you microwave regular CD’s and get the lightning effects too?

If so, how?

I got curious once as I thought they were made of glass, so I put one in the fireplace. Whooooooooooosh! Huge display. I would not suggest that you try this but Im just showing that you can erase the data alright.

It’s the aluminum coating that does the sparking. Leave it in too long and you’ll also get burning plastic.

How? You stick the CD in the microwave, set it for 4 seconds on high power and press “Start”. :rolleyes:

There is no reason why you shouldn’t get the lightshow with any CD, CD-R or not. They all have a thin metalic layer inside that acts as the reflective surface for the laser. Large amounts of current are induced into this metal layer by the microwaves.

The only reason this should fail, is if the oven is not putting out microwaves in the first place. I’ve tried this with regular CDs, both music and data, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, and even Playstation CDs with the black coating over the data surface. They all gave lightshow.

(Once my Dad gets his 12" Laserdisk collection burned to DVD-R, I’m going to try one of those too. I figure It’ll be the crowning achievement in my collection.)

The OP wasnts to reuse a cd. The only ones you can erase & write again are cd-rws. Commercial cd’s don’t use that, that i know of. WHy not buy some cd blanks? They are like almost free after rebate?

J and R has the Alera DVD/CD Shredder for a low $34.88. Item 240114

I’ve found the most aesthetically-pleasing patterns occur between 1-2 seconds after arcing begins. After that, the delicate branching patterns become lost in a tangle. look a the patterns under magnifiucation–you can really see the intricate fractal patterns typical of elctrical discharge through an insulating medium. It’s quite beautiful in its own way.

I think he has something more nefarious in mind. He wants to make a cd-rom unreadable without signs that it was tampered with.

So spill it roadkiller, what exactly are you plotting? :slight_smile:

Oh, I agree…he’s definitely up to something. :stuck_out_tongue:

For an even cooler effect, try stacking two CDs on top of each other. You get some neat short-lived blue flames in addition to the lighting show. Or at least I did the time I tried it.