How to Repair a DVD Disk
By Robert Russell
When a DVD skips or fails to play, the problem is either the DVD player or the DVD itself. The first step is to clean the DVD player. Once you have ruled out the DVD player as the culprit, the next step is to attempt to repair the DVD. If the problem is simply that the DVD is dirty or scratched, then the problem usually can be repaired. DVDs have three layers. The first layer is a plastic buffer that protects the information on the DVD. The information or data is stored on the second foil layer underneath the plastic buffer. The third layer is the label. As long as the damage is restricted to the plastic buffer layer the DVD can be repaired. If a scratch penetrates the plastic buffer, then it is time to buy a new DVD.
Confirm that the problem is the DVD. If your DVD is skipping or not playing at all the first step is to confirm that the DVD itself is the problem. Play the DVD in a different DVD player and see if the same problems are repeated. You should also check the DVD player by playing a couple of other DVDs to see if they have difficulties as well.
Inspect the bottom side of the DVD for dirt, smudges, and scratches. The most common reason that a DVD skips or doesn't play is that the laser eye of the DVD player is not able to read the DVD data.
Clean smudges and dirt from the DVD with the cleaning solution and cloth from the DVD cleaning kit. Regular window cleaner may be used as well. Lightly mist the disc and wipe the smudges and dirt with a soft, clean cloth. Play the DVD to see if the problem is corrected.
Repair shallow scratches with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab. Scratches on a DVD are only repairable if they are limited to the top plastic layer. Shallow scratches on the plastic layer may be repaired by a simple cleaning process. Locate the scratches and gently wipe them with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab.
Repair deeper scratches in the plastic layer with polish. Polishing the plastic layer removes a thin layer of plastic, which makes the scratch more shallow. Apply the polish from the DVD repair kit to the scratch. Buff the entire DVD as well as the scratch. Buff from the center of the DVD towards the edges.
Wipe the DVD with a clean damp cloth to remove all the residue from the polish. Play the DVD to see if the problem is corrected.
Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.