What is the best way to fix scratched CDs?

What are the best “home remedies” for fixing scratched CDs? I’ve tried toothpaste, and that just makes the scratches worse.

I purchased a CD scratch fixer from Barnes and Noble once, and it worked for a while, but then it just stopped working altogether.

The Movie Gallery in town would polish your disks for a dollar. Those machines can only fix scratches that are minor.

I read somewhere on a forums such as this, so it must be correct, that one could copy DVDs and the copying process would skip some of the flaws. If this is even close to the truth perhaps it would work on CDs too.

IF it’s an audio CD, it works pretty well. If it’s a data CD, it depends on how deep the scratch is, and whether the drive can read it if it moves slowly enough. If the reading problem is intermittent, it works pretty well. I’ve saved a CD or two that way.

BTW, you really shouldn’t be polishing a CD more than a few times. In fact, once I have to polish a CD once, I copy it off and use the copy. It’s one of the reason I hate DRM that tries to prevent me from copying CDs.

Where is the scratch? If it’s a label side scratch it’s not fixable. The data is stored underneath the label.

DVDs can be copied with flaws more easily 'cause you can interpolate the errors a bit easier. You ear may hear an interpolation, where the eye may dismiss it.

If the scratch is on the underside pretty much any abrasive cleaner, such as toothpaste or brasso will help. If the scratch is circular and follows the curve of the CD that is very difficult to fix.

After you use brasso or a CD polish you should see MORE scratches. CDs and DVDs are made with some error correction and what these scratches do is cause the error correction modes to kick in.

But the errors must be short and not one after the other.

Also you have to use a bit of muscle as your polishing the CD you should feel some heat (well warmth)

The problem I’ve seen is 99% of people that show me their scratched CD or DVD have label side scratches which can’t be fixed. As I said, the data is put right under the label and once the data is scratched off it’s gone

This is gonna sound weird, but it really has worked for me several times: Get aome silicon-based makes-your-hair-shiny stuff. Not shampoo or conditioner, not leave-in conditioner or treatment, but the clear viscuous stuff in usually a small bottle, often it’s called “serum.” apply a good amount, enough to coat the whole surface, and gently rub it in. Then wipe it off with a soft cloth.

You should at least be able to copy the disk after that.

Over the last 7 years, I’ve built up a DVD library of some 3,000 movies/TV series. Needless to say, I’ve learned some stuff about it in that time. One is that, while a DVD is an optical device and has a protective layer, it’s not indestructible. Although more resistant to wear and damage than, say, a vinyl record, the standard care for such a disc is still just as important. Handle it by the edges. Do not lay it flat on any hard or possibly abrasive surface. Do not stack. In other words, treat it like it’s crystal stemware. Irreplaceable. And some of them, being out of print, really are irreplaceable.

Now, first thing, if your DVD constantly hangs at the exact same point every time, but you don’t see a single scratch, hold the DVD at an angle where you can skim across the surface with your eyes. It’s like that there is the tiniest little dimple into the disc, like something poked it. There is no fix for that. The data area has already been damaged. Replace it while you can.

Cleaning, on the other hand, is not such a gentle, delicate issue. All of your standard DVD liquid cleaners are just 91% isopropyl alcohol. Available at any department/drug store for $1.50 a pint. I use a little 2-oz spritzer bottle (also available at the same stores for $1) to spray the surface. Don’t use rubbing alcohol, as it’s only 70%, which leaves streaks when it evaporates. Personally, I just use a paper towel for wiping the surface (gently). The alcohol does most of the work in dissolving the dirt, and the paper towel is mostly to pick up the dirt, not dry the disc. The evaporative properties of the alcohol does the drying. I’ve also never had a problem with the exact method of wiping, since I never scrub. They only tell you to wipe in a certain way in case you leave scratches from it; they’ll be less intrusive. Still have dirt left? Spray some more, wipe gently. Let the alcohol do its work, not the towel. What dirt isn’t picked up by the towel will flow off the disc (onto any absorbent material to protect your work surface.

Repairing scratches… Aye, there’s the rub, so to speak. Scratches, on its most basic, are not a problem in themselves. It’s only when a DVD consistently hangs at the same spot. Forget the toothpaste gimmick. I can tell you, after 5 years, it’s a load of crap. About the same time, I read where Pledge furniture polish was also effective. They even had a reason that I could buy. Since light passes through the protective surface, scratches tend to deflect that light and misread the data. Okay, makes sense. Same with minute scratches in furniture, looks dull. Pledge fills in those cracks, allowing light to pass through, and shine back with the original luster. Sounds good, may work for furniture, totally worthless for DVDs.

When basic cleaning doesn’t do the trick, there’s only one thing left; minimize or remove the scratches. Finally I broke down and bought a device called Disc Doctor (from Best Buy) for $50. It’s a motorized sanding wheel that turns the disc and strips a minute layer of the protective surface and turns off when completed. Often I have to only do one pass, and the problem is done. Sometimes it requires two passes. There have been a couple times when I actually needed to do 4 passes. The literature says that you can do up to 16 passes before risking damage to the data layer. Of course, if the scratch is deep enough to hit the data area, nothing will help recover the DVD. (Except for extremely expensive and proprietary software.)

So, given the high number of potentially scratched DVDs I deal with, buying such equipment is worthwhile to me. If you only have one or two that might have a problem, you’d find it cheaper to just take the disc to a DVD rental store and pay them a buck to do the same thing with their professional equipment. Same for CDs. And then care for them much more carefully in the future.

My experience was with a new game DVD that had two scratches; one was on the surface of the shiny side, the other was a really nasty zigzag scratch that was embedded in the plastic (the game’s title screen wouldn’t even load).

I didn’t want to go through the hassle of returns from Amazon Marketplace sellers just for a very cheap game, so I set about fixing the problem myself. There was nothing that could be done about the embedded scratch, but I thought maybe it would work OK if I fixed the surface scratch.

I tried toothpaste, 2 different brands of furniture polish and car wax. The toothpaste was totally ineffective; it did nothing to improve the original scratch, and succeeded only in introducing dozens more tiny scratches. Furniture polish fared slightly better - there was some improvement in the appearance of the original scratch, and it didn’t introduce any more scratches. Car wax was the best; it almost totally eliminated the original scratch, as well as the vast majority of the small scratches caused by the toothpaste. Alas, the embedded scratch was the problem, so the game still didn’t work.

One thing I would suggest is not to try buffing it out too many times. I tried each of the above substances 2 - 3 times (so maybe 9 or 10 attempts in total). After all this, the two layers of plastic that make up the DVD were beginning to peel apart, so the disc had to be trashed anyway.

What do you mean by “polish”? Using some kind of cleaner, or simply taking a soft cloth to get the dust off?