How to Repair Scratched CD’s

Before we find out how you can repair your scratched CD’s, let’s briefly define what they are:

The letters “CD” stand for “compact disc”. Since the uses of compact discs are so widespread around the world, you probably own and use several compact discs yourself. Blank compact discs can be used to store either audio or digital data on. Prerecorded audio discs have replaced cassette tapes in the music world.

A standard compact disc is 120 millimeters (mm) in diameter. It’s also 1.2 millimeters thick. It’s made of polycarbonate plastic that’s covered with a super thin layer of Aluminum. To finish the protection process, the aluminum is covered with a film of lacquer.

In the middle of a compact disc is a 15 millimeter hole. This hole not only holds the CD in place when it’s being used, but it also enables the player to rotate the disc.

A standard CD also resembles a vinyl record in that is has multiple tracks (or grooves) on it. These tracks are molded right into the polycarbonate plastic. The digital or audio data on a CD is encoded into the tracks.

And, just like a vinyl record, a compact disc can easily be scratched or scuffed. Just one scratch or scuff on its playing surface can virtually ruin a CD. How? Because the data is stored on the top side of a compact disc. If the top gets a deep enough scratch on it, that’s through the aluminum, the disc has been destroyed.

Here’s a rule of thumb for determining whether a scratch is too deep to repair:
If you hold a CD up to the light, and you can see light shining through the scratch, then it cannot be repaired.

However, if a scratch or scuff happens to the bottom side, it can usually be fixed, and the CD can be re-used.

To fix a scratched or scuffed compact disc, you’ll need to lay the disc down on a soft, clean cloth. You’ll need to gently polish the damage out of the plastic. There are several common products you probably have around your house that you can use. These include toothpaste, automobile polish, polish for silver or brass, and jewelry polish. You can even try using a dry tissue without any type of cleaner on it. All of these products, including the tissue, are mild abrasives.

Apply a drop or two of the cleaner you choose to use on a soft, clean cloth. Then, rub the cleaner on the damaged area of the compact disc. Make sure you rub the cloth towards the direction of the scratch or scuff. Keep rubbing until the damage is gone.

And finally, finish fixing your scratched compact disc by wiping that entire side with a soft, clean cloth. Wipe around the perimeter of the disc, not back and forth across the tracks.

Now, to avoid getting scratches and scuffs on your compact discs in the future, take care when you handle them. Don’t touch the surfaces with your hands or fingers. Handle CD’s by their edges only. And, never handle them with dirty hands.

Store your CD’s in a holder that has cloth pockets that will protect them from damage. Or, store each disc individually in a plastic jewel case. A jewel case holds a disc so that neither side touches the plastic case.

Compact discs should also be kept in a cool, dry area. Keep them out of direct sunlight.

When you label a disc, never use a pen, pencil, or any other writing utensil that has a hard point. The point can easily scratch the surface of the CD. Instead, always use a soft-tip marker to label your CD’s.

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