Tough though they may be, CDs get scratches. It’s bound to happen. Whether you’ve left it sitting on a hard surface, put it into a machine that’s less-than-delicate with its contents or just fumbled at putting the CD back in its case and on its spindle, scratches are an inevitability. And when they happen they can eventually lead to corruption, an inability to read the CD and flat out ruination of the disc.
How do you get around these scratches? Sometimes there’s no way to do so. Get rid of the CD, it’s worthless. Minor scratches can often be repaired, however, and should be, as the repair job will probably cost a lot less than getting a new CD. There are numerous ways to do this, fortunately, or at least to work around the problem of the scratched CD.
The first thing you’ll want to look into is a CD repair kit. These little devices are almost like portable disc drives that are created for the sole purpose of filling cracks and scrapes left in CDs. Pop the CD in, inject some of the cleaning fluid that comes with the machine and let it go to work. With any luck you’ll receive a CD in exchange that’s a whole lot more stable than its predecessor. Again, be warned: these things are not miracle workers. They can’t fix everything.
Barring that, you can also try to clean the CD. Perhaps the scratch isn’t the problem. Perhaps the CD is merely dirty and you can’t see the dirt. In this case, user a mild cleaning agent – water, preferably, and only warm water at that – to clean the disc, rubbing very gently starting with the inside of the disc and working your way out. Either let the CD dry or use a micro fiber cloth (nothing else) to wipe away the water.
You can also employ one of the thousands of home remedies found online that are purported to work wonders for a damaged CD. Banana peels, toothpaste, peanut butter, you name it, somebody has tried it. Be warned: these are risky propositions that may damage your CD even more. Try testing the efficacy of these ‘cures’ on test CDs before using it on the one you want to repair.
You can also avoid the problem of scratches by copying the data from a CD to another disc before the scratches get too bad. Sometimes this is no longer an option – bad CDs will resist system scans, and thus you can’t copy their contents – but the option is still there for users with a bit of foresight.
The alternative to all this, of course, is simple prevention. Always put CDs back in their cases when they’re not being used, and only place them in devices that you know will keep them safe. Doing any less is a waste of money, and a waste of a good CD.