A few years ago (2003-2005) I bought a Sony USB external DVD recorder for my Dell laptop and I used it to burn a lot of discs. Much later, when I tried to use one of these discs, I realised that I could not read it. The disc behaved as if it was scratched or dirty. I tried on a couple of different DVD drives but got the same effect. Sadly, all the discs that I burnt with that recorder suffer from the same problem.

Edit. When I read one of these discs with ImgBurn, I get lots of unrecovered read errors in multiple sectors, even at 1x speed. The sectors that cause read errors seem to be quite random; it's not always the same one.

I have no idea what could be wrong with the discs. I doubt that they are scratched or dirty; it would be too much of a coincidence that all the discs that I burnt with that recorder got damaged at the same time. Also, they don't show any physical defects. Is there any way to diagnose what the problem is and, hopefully, recover the contents of the discs?

Many thanks.

migrated from serverfault.com Jan 8 '10 at 14:08

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  • Did you test the DVDs after you first burned them? – xeon Jan 7 '10 at 23:03
  • No, I don't recall doing that. :-( – CesarGon Jan 7 '10 at 23:06
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    Well, theres your problem! Also check any burned CD/DVDs after they have finished to ensure the burn worked correctly. You can try reading them from that Sony USB DVD recorder if you still have it. – xeon Jan 7 '10 at 23:27
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    @xeon: Thanks for reminding to check my recordings; I promise I won't forget. :-) Unfortunately, laments do not solve my problem. I did try to read the DVDs using the same Sony recorder 1-2 years after I burnt them, but they couldn't be read. That's when the problem started. – CesarGon Jan 7 '10 at 23:31

It's unfortunately very common to get a batch of faulty media. When you originally created the disk, your recording software should have alerted you to the issues. However not all software is created equally.

I've often seen drives/systems where writing at max speed never works. Also, too high of a load on system resources can lead to the creation of unreadable discs. High temperatures can lead to rapid degeneration of the data-holding part of the disc (this does not need to result in visible warping). CDs and DVDs are no more reliable as a backup medium than a casette tape - and honestly, due to the wide availability of software, drives, and media that are a little too cough consumer-grade, they're often worse.

  • I see. If this were the case with my media, is there a way to recover some or all of the contents? – CesarGon Jan 8 '10 at 17:43
  • If the media was already damaged when the data was recorded to it, it'll be a lot like writing with a ball point pen on a hard plastic surface. I wouldn't expect your data to "take" in that situation. It's possible that you could get some software to do a bit-for-bit copy, but I suspect IsoBuster would've found something if there were any data to be had. – Kara Marfia Jan 8 '10 at 18:17

You could try IsoBuster, which is specialized on Data Recovery. You might have to try multiple readers and it's not Freeware, but I think the Trial can analyze at least.

  • I have downloaded and installed IsoBuster; thanks for that. Unfortunately, it just reports read errors and can't solve anything. – CesarGon Jan 8 '10 at 3:12
  • Then I'm almost afraid to say you've lost, unless you want to turn to some professional data recovery company :( – Michael Stum Jan 8 '10 at 5:06
  • Oh well. What bothers me most is not knowing what is wrong with these discs... – CesarGon Jan 8 '10 at 10:54

I've had pretty good luck using Nero and reading at the lowest speed. What software have yout tried reading them with?

  • I have been using imgburn.com – CesarGon Jan 8 '10 at 2:19
  • ...and also isobuster.com. Nero was used to burn the discs in the first place. – CesarGon Jan 8 '10 at 10:54

I have found that whenever I want recover a damaged DVD(scratched) I can usually recover it by using the slowest read speed and then copying it over to an ISO, although it takes longer I usually get the results I want.

It may or may not work, just give it a try.

  • Many thanks for the tip. I have tried reading and creating an ISO at 1x speed, but I still get lots of read errors. I am adding an edit to my original post to clarify. – CesarGon Jan 8 '10 at 0:20

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