Disc resurfacing - What is really happening

Disc Resurfacing: What Is Really Happening?

If you have a disc with scratches on it, the playback it provides could be affected. You’ll notice skipping and pausing in music, lag on the video, and a refusal for some machines to recognize the medium.

This issue occurs because an optical disc has a laser light shined onto the product’s reflective side. Sensors interpret the information that transmits during this process.

If the polycarbonate layer alters the reflective properties or the path of that laser, you won’t get the data processing features you want.

When the scratch is large enough, the beam won’t return to the player. That’s when blackouts and skips occur. If you resurface the disc, it might be possible to restore playback functions.

Disc Resurfacing: What Is Really Happening?

When optical discs get resurfaced, the polycarbonate reflective layer takes a close shaving on light scratches. This step reduces or eliminates the laser bounce without impacting the data layer. For deeper gouges, a fill product might be needed to prevent skipping and blackouts.

It is essential to remember that disc resurfacing can only occur on the underside of the album, game, DVD, or similar product.

If you have a foil dent or a top-side scratch on the optical disc, these issues are not typically repairable.

Scratches to the reflective portion don’t impact the internal data storage in the same way the other damage problems do with this product.

When a disc gets resurfaced, most automated equipment will accurately remove a thin layer of the damaged polycarbonate.

It uses micro-abrasives to “shave” off the portion with the scratch, allowing the beam to return to the player accurately.

Once the scratches get removed from the disc’s surface, the equipment polishes the polycarbonate layer to ensure it delivers reflections accurately.

When this job is performed correctly, you’ll see a shiny surface with a flat, clear finish.

Depending on how much damage occurs to the optical disc, most products can get repaired up to 50 times using this methodology.

That’s because the CD’s information layer is about half of the thickness of a standard piece of printer paper.

That data is stored under the painted side (the top of the disc), leaving the plastic to protect it while delivering a readable surface.

What Are the Layers on an Optical Disc?

A disc’s composition depends on the formatting used for the product. If you’re using a standard compact disc for digital audio, it comes with three layers.

When you have a DVD, it will usually have four layers.

The difference in the design is based on the information levels that the disc must store.

Since video requires more data space than audio, the discs often use dual reflective surfaces so that the product can be read from the top or the bottom.

A CD only has the one reflective side, allowing it to be played from underneath on most devices.

A Blu-ray Disc follows the four-layer process that DVDs use, but it has a different composition.

Underneath the label is a clear plastic layer, followed by the information storage area. It uses a harder coating for the bottom, which doesn’t scratch as easily.

The Blu-ray optical disc has a much thinner reflective surface. It can still be repaired if scratches occur, but it can only go through the process a handful of times before the product gets ruined.

Here are the applications where you’ll typically find each optical disc style so that you know how to start the repair process when necessary.

Compact Discs (CDs)CDs, CD-ROM, and PS1
DVDsDVD-R, DVD+R, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Wii
Blu-Ray DiscsBlu-ray Applications, PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and above

Compact Discs are the easiest to repair because the playing surface is quite thick. It is comparable to both transparent plastic layers on a DVD that sandwich the information in the middle.

It’s a total of 1.2mm of surface area, ensuring that deep gouges can be repaired using the correct equipment.

FAQs About Disc Resurfacing

Although you might have heard that a scratched disc is impossible to repair, that statement is not entirely true.

Unless the gouge went all of the way through the polycarbonate to impact the information storage areas, a disc is potentially fixable.

It all depends on how much of the plastic reflective layer remains on the CD, video game, DVD, or another product.

When you work with a professional resurfacing agency to handle this disc restoration task, there might be a few questions you’d want to have answered first.

Since most businesses in this space don’t provide FAQ pages, you can find the typical questions and answers that most people have about this process.

Does a resurfaced disc play like it is new?• Although some exceptions apply because of the disc’s condition, resurfacing will typically restore access to the unit’s playback abilities.
• It will not fix damaged data, foil problems, or other information layer issues.
Do resurfaced discs come with a warranty or guarantee?• Most resurfacing providers offer satisfaction guarantees or promises for their products.
• If you don’t receive access to the information after the service is performed, you should receive your money back.
• You’ll want to review the terms and conditions of the provider before finalizing your purchase.
How long does the resurfacing process take?• The exact repair time for an optical disc depends on its condition.
• A restoration effort might take a few minutes, a couple of hours, or more than a day.
Does the repair process fix cracks?• No. Optical disc repair only works when there are surface scratches or gouges that impact the reflective surface.
• Anything that cracks through to the information storage area is not repairable.
• This process is also unable to fix errors that happened during the manufacturing process.
Can double-sided discs get repaired?• The issue with most repair services is that the process erases the information from one side because the equipment is only meant for the underneath surface.
• DVDs require a different machine to complete the resurfacing so that it becomes readable again.
Does my label stay intact?• Yes. When you repair an optical disc with scratches or gouges, the label remains intact on the top of the product.
Can a disc spray fix my scratches?• Products like the Proline Digital spray disc cleaner are population because they can buff away some scratches.
• You can only use this product to restore light scrapes that might impact how the laser reads the information.
• This product is not for smudges, fingerprints, or smears. A cleaning agent would work better in that situation.
Why didn’t the restoration effort work?• The optical disc must get polished to the last layer of the deepest scratch for the repair to take hold.
• If it doesn’t reach that level, it will continue to skip, blackout, or cause other playback problems.

What Is the Cost of a CD Repair?

The average cost of a CD repair in the United States is about $4.65 per disc if you pay someone for this service.

Most companies provide bulk pricing if you have larger orders to complete. If you order 25 disc repairs from the same provider, the cost per item might drop to $3.50. That means you’d save over $25 on the overall project.

That’s why it pays to wait until you have multiple units to resurface if you need to hire someone to do it for you.

When you need to prevent minor scuffs and scratches from causing skips, that’s when a disc restoration spray could be a worthwhile investment.

You’ll pay about $20 for the container, which can restore access to dozens of discs.

Instead of paying for a special buffing sponge, use a cloth from a glasses cleaning kit to restore your CD to playing quality.

You also have the option to use a polishing compound on your optical disc. If you take this option, you’ll remove the various obstacles that could interfere with how the beam reads the disc.

It will still skip on deep gouges, but products like JFJ Disc Repair can be helpful if you don’t want to use a spray.

DIY Ways to Clean CDs at Home

Although you could invest in small, motorized disc restoration products for your scratched items, it takes patience to get the optical disc to where you want it to be.

You want to ensure the item you buy can go all of the way out to the outer edges to create a flat resurface.

If you only resurface the disc’s inner part, your console or player might not recognize it. After you scrape away the scratches, you need to buff it with significant pressure to create the necessary polish.

It often takes more than one cleaning to get damaged optical discs to work with equipment options like the Digital Innovations SkipDr DVD and CD motorized system.

If you want to try some other DIY scratch repair and polishing options, here are the most popular ones you can find online today.

  • Toothpaste. Don’t use this option. Since the product is naturally abrasive, you’ll rub in more scratches when trying to polish the surface. Don’t use circular motions, be very gentle, and let the product sit for about five minutes before washing it clean.
  • Baby Shampoo. If you use a lint-free cloth with this item, you can remove built-up grease, sticky things, and stubborn fingerprints. A light dish detergent has a similar effect.
  • Anti-Static Wipes. This DIY method is the best one to use. Not only does it clean and polish the surface, but it also repels dust while working. If you have some CD cleaning fluid, spray it on the wipe to get it working.

When you use water for the cleaning solution for optical discs, please remember to use a distilled product.

Your tap water could have harmful minerals or chemicals in it that could ruin the CD, DVD, or Blu-ray surface.

Before proceeding, you’ll want to check to see if your disc is repairable. You can tell by holding the reflective side toward you while facing a bright light.

If you can see small holes coming through the product, that means its aluminum layer is beyond repair.

If you don’t see any lights shining through, you might be able to fix the CD.

With whatever option you choose, please proceed with caution. Only choose reputable, highly ranked professionals for this work.

If you use cleaning tools, polishers, or automatic scrapers, only choose highly-rated products to reduce your risks of future damage.

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