Repair a CD or DVD

Spiderowych has a high school graduation DVD that no longer plays properly. He asked the Answer Line forum for help.

Try cleaning the disc. In my experience, dirt, smudges, and fingerprints cause most of these problems.

You can buy disc-cleaning kits in all sorts of stores, but you don't really need to spend that much money. The main tool for the job is a microfiber cloth. If you wear glasses, your optometrist's office has probably already given you one. If not, you can buy one at any camera store for a few dollars.

Wipe the disc gently in straight lines from the center of the disc out. Don't wipe in a circular motion.

If that doesn't do the trick, moisten the cloth with a little distilled water. And if that doesn't work, try isopropyl alcohol. If there's any residual liquid on the disc when you're done, wipe it off with a dry corner of the cloth, then let it air dry.

Cleaning a disc won't help if it's scratched. I've tried numerous scratch-repair kits and tricks, but have yet to find anything that worked.

However, you can sometimes successfully copy the contents of a scratched disc onto your hard drive, after which you can burn another disc.. The copying will probably take longer than usual, and the new disc will have some missing information. But unlike the damaged original, it might still play.

But remember that the copy protection on commercially-made DVDs and Blu-rays, and even some CDs, will keep you from making a copy with legally-distributed software.

If nothing else works, you may have to consider getting another copy.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter.

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