CD/DVD care/fixes

  • writing labels: this works best when you have a disc sleeve available. put the disc data-side down on a clean/new disc sleeve, and write your label with a black ultrafine sharpie or water-based cd pen. holding the disc and writing the label I found out causes you to grip the disc firmly, which puts fingerprints on the disc, even if you are careful.
  • handle the disc only by the edges, or by edges and hub using your pinky finger
  • never lay it directly on a table unless it is label-side down, but never more than a couple of days (gathers dust, tables are typically dirty or have invisible sandy grit)
  • you can lay the disc shiny green/purple/blue data side down on clean paper. The purple/green/blue data side should be down (in a sleeve would be better) so that dust doesn't gather on it. it only takes 2 days for dust to gather.
  • do not get fingerprints or smudges on the data side of the disc. it will cause read errors. if you are trying to burn it may cause a corrupted disc. this can even happen when holding the disc by the edges... therefore try not to fill the disc to capacity: try for 80-90% capacity.
  • avoid getting dust,scratches,smudges,fingerprints on the purple/green/blue data side.
  • If you get a Taiyo Yuden cdr and one side is silver and the other side is shiny green, the shiny green side is the data side and the silver side is the label side.
  • cleaning: clean the disc with detergent (dish soap) and cool running water. avoid heat. I have noticed that this causes visible pits. I don't know anything better yet for cleaning. more research. this is what I have that works 99.999% well on cleaning off smudges, grime, dust, and crud. ahh - finally, a disc cleaning kit from venmill.
  • avoid placing the data side down on tables. tables have unseen dust and grit and uneven surface (even a clean table) which acts like sandpaper, which causes scratches.
  • best to keep a disc in a sleeve or in a cd wallet (although I have found that cd wallets which are not loose-leaf and bound with a ring of some sort tend to scratch up the cd - don't go cheap). case-logic makes good stuff. a good cd wallet is the series like the Case Logic KSW-320 CD/DVD Wallet Case Logic KSW-320 CD/DVD Wallet if the wallet's leaves feel like or look like sandpaper, chances are it might act like sandpaper when compressed by lots of cd's. have one at home that made an impression/crosshatch pattern on the cd-r data-side plastic just from pressure - it was from a 64 or 128-cd wallet.

There are gold and silver media for archival purposes. it is more impervious to heat and light (especially the gold) and fading over time. Gold media is supposed to last 300 years. silver media is supposed to last 100-250 years. gold MAM-A cd's typically comes in the 650MiB variety. you can get them and taiyo yuden media (which works in any drive) from

smudges & dust

If your cd-rom is spending enormous amounts of time trying to read the cd-rom, there may be smudges on it, or a lot of scratches. if it is smudges, wash the bottom off with water & detergent. dry with a terry cloth towel, but make sure there are no bits of cloth left on the cd. it should be perfectly shiny in the data area. If the drive still won't read the cd and the cd appears to be pristine (no scratches), one of 3 things is happening:

  • the cdr/dvdr/cdrw/dvdrw media is made by the wrong manufacturer for your drive. sometimes this can be solved by a drive FW (firmware) update from the manufacturer of your drive (for instance Philips, Pioneer, ASUS, MSI, Samsung).
  • you put a DVD in a cd drive, or other media that is too high for the drive. try reading other media to see if the problem persists, such as a commercial cd-rom. you can tell if you have a cd drive if it says 4x or 20x or 8x or 10x or 48x or 40x or 52x or 56x anywhere on the labelling. Note that Vista comes on DVD's.
  • If you tried all these other alternatives and the drive still won't work,[ and your drive is old,] the drive probably needs to be replaced.


don't blow the dust off with your mouth - you will most likely leave small bits of spit on the disc, which leave spots that you will have to wash off. take a terry cloth towel and wipe the cd off. you may need to do both sides several times to get the edges. you don't want dust in your burner/player! I suppose you could try using canned air first as long as you are not doing a freeze blast. cd's like cool temperatures, but I don't know anything about frozen. Terry cloth is better, or just doing a wash with a glob of detergent. the wash is for tough jobs, because it gets everything - finger oils, dust, dirt, grime.


try reading using a DVD-RW drive. sometimes this may work whereas a cd-rom drive won't.

unless they are really deep scratches, send it to at $3/side or get a disc resurfacing kit or system. You can find one at Office Max or maybe Office Depot. There are some kits out there for really deep scratches that use a liquid laquer-like-stuff which fills in the scratches and coats the disc, but is not recommended for high-speed (or was it long term? probably neither) use I think. might explode in the drive if it's really bad enough.