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Larry Kart

Repairing scratched CDs

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Anyone have any luck with devices or methods that do the job? I buy a good many CDs at library sales (several libraries in my area are de-acessioning their CD collections for 50 cents  or  $1 a disc), and some of the CDs are scratched to the point of being a problem -- the sound is a bit messed up or the CD won't play at all. My local library has a high-priced scratch-repair machine, mostly for DVDs although it works on CDs, but they won't use it on CDs from other libraries. There's a place about 15 miles away that  does scratch repair for commercial customers, but they won't work on anything less than a 100 CDs at a whack, which is not my need. I see that there are machines/devices available, but almost none of them have good reviews, except for ones that cost thousands of bucks, and I'm certainly not going there.

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I only have had one experience with a pro CD buffer type machine (at a game store), but it worked like a charm.  I found a super-rare Stewart Copeland CD (drummer for the Police), that looked like it had sat on the side of the road for about 2 years, blowing around in the wind and elements.  Scratched all to hell.  Normally $100, I got it (even beat all to hell) for $12.  Took it across the street, and the kid in the gamer store took pity on me and didn't even charge me the $3-$4 they charged to buff CD's -- and it came out looking stone mint, like a brand new CD.

Wish I knew a place here in DC that had that kind of service. Not that I have a lot of discs needing it, but I'm sure I have a dozen or so that I wouldn't mind getting buffed (out of 5,000)

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Yeah, I'd look for a game store, not a chain, but one run by/for gamers. Tell 'em you're woke and washed.

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I bought a cheap hand powered device many years ago and it worked on several of my scratched cds.  (In fact I can't remember if it ever didn't work.) I'll send it to you if you want. (I no longer have that kind of patience.)  

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I've had the "Skip Dr." for number of years and when called upon it has always done the job. It was about $15 at the FYE store in the mall way back when.

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First try extracting to a hard drive. If there's still anomalies/skips try some moderately rubbed in Lemon Pledge with a cloth or paper towel on the back of the disc. Really. 

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If you’re buying a cd for .50 or $1, is it really worth the bother? 

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If the CD has music on it that I want to hear, why, up to a point, would it not be worth it? That's why my initial post asked if there were some device or method that worked on scratched CDs but didn't cost a lot.

I've seen posts on the Internet that suggest working non-gel toothpaste or rubbing compound into the CD and then washing it off (the idea there is that the grit in those substances will bring the scratched areas down to the level of the rest of the CD's surface, and the laser will now move past them) but at the moment, after I found a different library that ran my scratched CD through their fancy scratch-repair machine, I don't have a scratched CD on which to try those cheap home remedies.

2 hours ago, medjuck said:

I bought a cheap hand powered device many years ago and it worked on several of my scratched cds.  (In fact I can't remember if it ever didn't work.) I'll send it to you if you want. (I no longer have that kind of patience.)  

Thanks, but I've since, per Rooster Ties and Jim's suggestions, talked to a game store, and they run CDs through their scratch-fixing machine for a modest fee.

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Up to a point, yes, if it doesn’t cost more than a modest fee but after that, it wouldn’t be worth it, at least for me, but to each his own. As my wife has told me on more than one occasion, you get what you pay for. 

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My local Bull Moose has a buffer and they don't charge much to buff a disc. It was around $1 last time I paid them for it.

I have used toothpaste and it did work but don't expect a pretty looking CD afterward. Toothpaste does not have a fine enough grit, so you wind up with a hazy look. It will probably rip in a PC and may play in some CD players, but some players might not be able to read it.

BTW - if you ever pick up a CD and it's badly scratched on the label side, those scratches can go right into the Aluminum layer and obliterate the playback. You can usually see these types of scratches in the metal. No buffing will save those.

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On a slightly different angle, if you have any CD-Rs with those stick-on paper labels, you might find they've been corrupted by just sitting on a shelf for a decade or so.  I'm working on a project now, taking radio broadcasts so-saved, and they've become unplayable.  Gotta be a chemical reaction eating through or something, because an un-labled copy plays perfectly.

Oddly, a bad disc copied onto another finds the copy will play when the master won't...

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19 hours ago, Ted O'Reilly said:

Oddly, a bad disc copied onto another finds the copy will play when the master won't...

A computer does not pull the data off of the disc once. It pulls it off as many times as necessary to get valid data, just like your hard drive. If you use Exact Audio Copy, it defaults to multiple reads just to be sure that the data is correct. A CD player is a "one shot" digital read mechanism. If it fails to read the data in that one time and error correction fails, it won't play.

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On 10/12/2018 at 11:08 AM, Kevin Bresnahan said:

A computer does not pull the data off of the disc once. It pulls it off as many times as necessary to get valid data, just like your hard drive. If you use Exact Audio Copy, it defaults to multiple reads just to be sure that the data is correct. A CD player is a "one shot" digital read mechanism. If it fails to read the data in that one time and error correction fails, it won't play.

Thanks for that information, Kevin.  I'll look into that site.

As to that paper label problem, my ignorant contention is that there's some kind of chemical reaction going on...is that so?

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4 hours ago, Ted O'Reilly said:

As to that paper label problem, my ignorant contention is that there's some kind of chemical reaction going on...is that so?

As I mentioned above, the material on the label side of a CD is very thin. As such, you really shouldn't be using any chemicals that can eat through the thin layer of lacquer. From https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub121/sec3/ :

"A very thin lacquer layer is applied to the label side of CDs to protect the metal from exposure to the environment. (DVDs have no such protective lacquer coating.) That layer also gives some limited protection from writing on or labeling the disc. However, the CD is more sensitive to damage on this side than on the polycarbonate side. Since the metal layer is so close to the surface of the label side, pointed objects can easily damage the CD by deforming the metal or exposing it to the environment. Some solvents can also affect lacquer coatings and expose or react with the metal. Once the metal is damaged, the laser cannot read data in the damaged areas."

Back in the days of CD-Rs, I only used a special felt marker made for writing on CD-Rs because there was talk that Sharpies could eat through the lacquer. I still have a couple of them around here somewhere. I used to buy them from American Digital.

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20 hours ago, Kevin Bresnahan said:

Back in the days of CD-Rs, I only used a special felt marker made for writing on CD-Rs because there was talk that Sharpies could eat through the lacquer. I still have a couple of them around here somewhere. I used to buy them from American Digital.

IIRC the ink in Sharpies has a high alcohol content, which doesn't mix well with CD-Rs. Sakura Identi-pens are recommended by many folks for use on CD-Rs - I've used them for years without any problems, and they're readily available.

https://sakuraofamerica.com/marker-permanent

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23 hours ago, Dave Garrett said:

IIRC the ink in Sharpies has a high alcohol content, which doesn't mix well with CD-Rs. Sakura Identi-pens are recommended by many folks for use on CD-Rs - I've used them for years without any problems, and they're readily available.

https://sakuraofamerica.com/marker-permanent

Thanks...I'll look for this brand at one of Toronto's good art supply stores...

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