Have you ever had a critical information CD or DVD but couldn’t access it? Does your drive have a huge scratch? Maybe it’s a little chipped or cracked? Don’t throw it away, there might still be hope!

Unfortunately, there is a good chance that many of your older discs will get scratched. Nobody on really not looked after their CDs, right?

Don’t despair! If your computer stutters on your optical media, the free tools we show you here can help you read and extract data from those scratched CDs and DVDs.

Manual repair

Before we look at some third-party apps, it’s worth taking a few minutes to see if a little love and care can bring your drive back to its former glory.

If you are dealing with a light scratch, you can try using a whitening toothpaste. This is not an old wife’s tale — it really works.

Apply a small amount of the paste and use a cloth to gently massage it over the scratch. It may go away completely.

You should also try to play the CD using a drive that can burn discs instead of just reading them. In general, burners are more accurate and better at seeing CD tracks.

If you’re trying to read a CD that you made yourself, you can also try using it in the same drive you used to create it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that if you do this, you will have a better chance of reading successfully. However, this may not be possible if the CD is very old.

See our guide to repairing damaged CDs. for more information.

Try third party apps

Some third-party applications can read data from a damaged drive. In my experience, the most successful is » Unstoppable copier» roadkil.

I’ll show you how to use it and then list a few options for you to try.

Unstoppable copier

Unstoppable Copier can save data in many different scenarios. Obviously it can help you recover data from scratched drives, but it can also try to read bad sectors. and retrieve data when there are no scratches but you still see a read error.

To get started, grab a free copy of the app from the Roadkil website. You can choose either installable or portable version.

Download: Unstoppable copier

Using Unstoppable Copier

Launch the app and accept the End User License Agreement (EULA). You will see a blank copy of the application.

Insert the scratched CD into your computer’s CD tray and wait for the device to recognize it. Then click the » Review» next to the field Source» and select your CD drive.

How to read scratched CDs or DVDs in Windows Unstoppable Copier Browse

Now you need to choose a location for your saved files. Press the second button » Review» (it is located next to the field » Target» ). I’m going to use a temporary desktop file.

The application screen should now look like this:

How to read scratched CDs or DVDs in Windows with an unstoppable copy of the target source

To start the rescue process, click » Copy» . You can see the progress of the files in the main application window along with a progress bar below it.

At the very bottom of the window, you can see specific data on how many files were damaged and how many of them the tool can repair.

How to read scratched CDs or DVDs in Windows Unstoppable Progress Copier

Note. Depending on the extent of damage to your CD, the process can take a long time. Your CD drive may also be making «weird» sounds.

When the process completes, you will find all your saved files in your target folder.

Alternative Applications

If Unstoppable Copier is not working, you can check out some alternatives.

  • Recovery Toolbox for CD : This application can read damaged CDs and extract data that was corrupted during CD creation (due to user error or program crash). The app is free to use.
  • CDCheck: CDCheck focuses on error detection, but it can also read scratched discs. It allows you to pre-check which files are damaged before starting the recovery process. Again, the app is free.
  • IsoBuster : Using IsoBuster, you can perform a «light» scan or a «full» scan. A full scan takes much longer, but is much more complete and can help you save badly damaged drives. The app is free, but the $30 paid version provides more advanced features, including extracting MacBinary files and extracting from UDF file systems.

Make a copy

If you manage to get Windows to read your CD, discard everything else and make a copy immediately. You don’t know how long you can access the data; it could be a coincidence!

Check out our list of apps that can help you rip and copy CDs and DVD.

If all else fails…

If you can’t manually repair the CD and third party apps don’t work, you still have one path open.

You can try to borrow your disc from a specialized music store. They often have machines that can «buff out» the disc’s coating and thus make the disc readable again.

Unfortunately, downloading the new CD version using torrents is not possible. It’s a common misconception that you can back up CDs and DVDs. you are already proficient with the technology.

Here’s why it doesn’t:

At the moment you have no options. You will have to admit defeat and send your CD to the big library in the sky.

How do you read scratched CDs and DVDs on Windows?

Using a combination of manual repairs, third-party tools, and professional services, you will hopefully regain access to content on scratched or damaged CDs.

We’ve shown you a few tricks that cover all the basics, but we’d love to hear your advice: Have you found an application that is so reliable that it can save data every time? Do you know of any toothpaste alternatives. what works?

You can leave all your suggestions and recommendations in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends on social networks.

Originally written by Carl L. Gechlik June 17, 2009

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