I had (well, still have) a DVD+R which I recorded. For a few years now it has been working without issues. When I tried it the other day, I couldn't read it, Windows couldn't even get a "start up" reading where it shows you the name of the disc, and the files on it.

I thought maybe the drive failed, or the lens is dirty but other CDs/DVDs work fine. I tried reading it on two other laptops, alas, with no success.

The disc has no scratches that I can see, while some of the other ones are scratched all over and work without problems.

Do you have any ideas what could be wrong with it and how could I go about getting my data back from it?

  • Disc media have no guarantee of permanence (except M-Discs), though I don't know the physics of what causes degradation. As far as recovering your data is concerned, you have done the obvious first things. Next steps are to find recovery tools and to try an alternative OS: if you use Windows, try an Ubuntu Live CD; if you use Linux, try Hiren's BootCD. After that, you will probably need to spend serious money on a professional service, assuming the data are that valuable.
    – AFH
    Oct 3 '15 at 15:44
  • @AFH - How would an alternative OS help/differ? (Not trying to shoot you down, but honestly interested.) Regarding the guarantee, I was aware of that but don't know how that would be a cause of a disc suddenly going bad. Some of the older ones still work, some of the newer ones as well. This one in particular has been working flawlessly for years now. That's why it's so suspicious to me, for it to die all of a sudden.
    – Rook
    Oct 3 '15 at 16:35
  • To those voting to close, would just like to mention that I cannot narrow the question down exactly because I don't know what else to try. I've gone through the most common causes, and upon that having no effect posted here. I cannot narrow down a "what else could i try?" question.
    – Rook
    Oct 3 '15 at 17:02
  • I'd try another optical drive. By the time you can see any dust/dirt/contamination on a lens, it's way past time to clean or replace it. First sign of a failing drive would be bad writes, but it would be worth the test just to see if bad reads are causing it.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 3 '15 at 17:48
  • I do not know how an alternative OS helps, but I have found that it can work in practice. The drivers are completely different, so maybe it results from different error handling. There are low-level read functions available which recovery software can exploit. An error in a critical sector can prevent mounting of a faulty disc, but recovery software with a knowledge of file formats can extract files from an unmounted disc, with varying degrees of success in different operating systems.
    – AFH
    Oct 4 '15 at 20:51

According to Wikipedia, 20% of DVD+R's fail within 15 years.

In my experience however, I'd suggest not following this at all. Writable media just doesn't last very long due to the fact that the written layer is a thin dye material, and not the silverized layer of commercial discs. Anything from sunlight to radon gas could damage it. The denser the storage medium, CD --> DVD --> Blu-Ray, the higher the chance of data loss due to the smaller features. Again this is my experience and not scientific fact.

I will say that disc and drive compatibility is definitely not guaranteed. A disc written in one drive may not play at all in another drive or DVD player. But usually they work in the same drive just fine (until the drive dies.) I tell my students to expect 10 years or less from any type of optical media today. It could just be a defective disc.

  • Considering there weren't many CDs in the early 90s, I would say that's probably true. But (bad) jokes aside; seriously, I am aware of everything you mentioned, but this disc has been working for a number of years, so I am suspicious of how it died all of a sudden. So I'm trying to see (hoping?) whether something else could be at fault.
    – Rook
    Oct 3 '15 at 16:54
  • Bad jokes aside, by the early 90's my entire record collection was on CD, & I had a CD writer too - running at a massive 1x speed, an entire 650MB/hour ;-) [I worked for the manufacturer, so I was an early adopter for free, which is always nice]
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 3 '15 at 17:51
  • You could ask Applied Science if he'll check it out for you. He has an electron microscope and has shown pictures of CD surfaces. Perhaps an actual micrograph could shed some light on the issue. Or a programmer well-versed in ATAPI; there might be low-level diagnostic messages capturable from the DVD drive (uncertain.)
    – rdtsc
    Oct 3 '15 at 23:28
  • @Rook re: working for a number of years and suddenly dying -- that's often the nature of digital failures. The disk could have been degrading over a long time, but the system was able to use it due to error correction. At some point, a critical part of the disk degraded beyond the abilities of error correction.
    – fixer1234
    Oct 3 '15 at 23:46

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