CDs and DVDs are fast becoming legacy storage devices but that does not mean they are totally out of use yet. By nature of their design, these discs are very delicate and the slightest scratch can render data on them inaccessible.

How to read, Recover Data from a Scratched CD or DVD
How to read, Recover Data from a Scratched CD or DVD/Photo


The type of scratch on the CD or DVD will determine success rates in data recovery. Scratches that run from the centre out are less harmful than those that run along the spiral. This is why it is recommended that when wiping a disc, you do it from the centre outwards, not cyclical.


There are several software recovery tools that promise to recover data from damaged discs. However, this post will detail how to attempt doing so manually using the following methods.

Using Toothpaste

  1. First, clean the disc’s surface using a little detergent. You can also use rubbing alcohol to get rid of stubborn grease stains.
  2. Apply a little toothpaste on the surface.
  3. Rub gently with a soft cloth, moving from the centre outwards.
  4. Wash with warm water to remove the residual toothpaste then try to play it.

Using Wax

  1. Apply a thin layer of liquid wax or furniture wax on the playing surface of the CD.
  2. Allow the wax to dry then use a clean cloth to wipe the excess off. From inside to outside.

Incandescent Bulb

  1. Light up an incandescent filament bulb of 60-100 watts.
  2. Insert your index finger into the hole in the middle of the disc.
  3. Hold the disc’s shiny surface towards the lightbulb at a distance of about 10cm.
  4. Rotate it slowly on your finger for a period of not more than 20 seconds.


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Success rate of any of the above methods is hugely dependent on how deep the scratches are. Test the disc and if it plays, backup the contents elsewhere immediately before it gets damaged further and you lose the date permanently.

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