Have a priceless collection of DVDs? Well then you probably know the feeling when you find one of your discs in junior’s toy chest, all scratched up. You’re probably worried that your favorite movie has been sent into limbo, leaving you with an empty case to fill in the display. But you need not worry yet. You can try to remedy the mess first with some off-the-shelf products that can help remove these scratches.
Try playing the disc. If the disk can still be read by your player, but has deep gouges that cause it to skip, then try using your computer to copy it off to a blank DVD-R. Computer DVD drives are mostly the same as those on DVD players, but because DVD players are used more extensively, the lens and other parts might already be more worn out than the one on your computer. Keep the busted disk around for you may not be able to get the artwork onto your copied disk.
A straight scratch can be compensated for by the DVD laser. The software and lens mechanism on DVD players are designed to interpret straight scratches as errors on the disc. In practice, spinning discs are usually less than perfect, because they wobble a lot. The lens compensates for this by floating and rapidly moving up and down maintaining a specified distance from the surface of the disk for optimal performance. This system also allows to compensate for straight scratches.
Smooth out scratches. Some of the craziest ideas can work, such as using toothpaste and metal polish to smooth out deep scratches on a DVD. Using a clean piece of cotton cloth, apply toothpaste or metal polish on the disc, gently rubbing the scratch from the inner hub out, and not in a circular motion. Do polish with the lightest pressure possible, as too much pressure will result in friction that heats up the plastic, causing cracks to appear when it rapidly cools.
Use alcohol. Get some rubbing alcohol or ethyl alcohol if possible, to remove traces of the polishing compound and wipe dry with cotton. Don’t worry about the many fine scratches that may have resulted from all the rubbing, since these will, again, be compensated for by the DVD player’s laser.
Copy the disc to a blank DVD-R. If an unreadable disc works again, make a copy of the at once for archival purposes. You will then have an original disc that has the original artwork for display and a copy disc that you can use to watch without the irritating skips and pauses.
If you are worried about your DVD collection getting scratched up, you can actually copy each and every one of these into blank DVD-Rs, so you still have a good copy, in any eventuality. Remember that copying original DVD’s and CD’s and selling them is piracy. But it is within fair use for an end user to keep copies of DVDs and CDs that one already owns, for archival purposes.