How to Fix a Badly-Scratched Game Disc---For Free
Don't Believe the Hype
When two of my discs (two XBOX 360 games valued at $59.99), suffered the now-infamous "perfect circle" scratch synonymous with movement of the XBOX 360, I immediately conceded their uselessness. However, as the $120 investment continued to gather dust in my CD case, I eventually wondered whether they could be salvaged to be sold back to a store. The methods I found, however, brought far more detriment than salvation.
So, what does not work?
- Toothpaste. Many claim that it is a magical scratch remover due to its abrasiveness. Honestly, it only adds more small imperfections to the disc, whether rubbed on in a radial or circular motion. The disc is unlikely to run any more efficiently. Result on my discs: misleading improvement which faded within minutes. If anything, it hurt the disc.
- Car Wax/Polish. Just like toothpaste advocates, many purport wax's ability to improve the functionality of discs based on unrelated applications. The wax does make the disc shinier, but the claim that it hardens to seal scratches (thereby nullifying them) is one which seems to be unfounded. Result on my discs: once again, noticeable improvement faded into the same performance (or worse) within minutes.
- Packaged Cleaning Kits. Spending a minimum of $10-$12 on a product claiming to fix discs is not worth it. Perhaps minor, virtually imperceptible scratches will be taken away by the kit (most of which include cleaning cloths, a bottle of liquid cleaner, and a bottle of liquid polish), but the other methods listed here have the same capability. Let me let you in on something here: the "perfect circle" scratch is about as deep as gouges get, and most users will give up on a disc when such a scratch appears. Result on my discs: the cloths provided in here leave lesser marks (if any) than the toothpaste and wax methods, but deep scratches will not be cured by such products. A cleaner disc is seemingly the result, but improved quality largely is not.
Obviously, I tried all three of these methods on my way to the true solution, and my disc only sported numerous small scratches when I was through. Finally, I reached out to someone with means much greater than my own--local movie/game rental locations.
When I called several of the local video game retailers in town, I was informed that there was nothing that could be done in the store about the disc. I was even advised by one to get one of the aforementioned kits (no, thank you). Upon calling the local video game/movie rental store(s) and asking to speak to a manager, I was informed that one of the stores had a machine that would fix my discs--deep cut and all--for free.
Naturally, I jetted to the store, gave the two discs to the cashier, and watched as he "resurfaced" them. To resurface a disc is to shave off its top layer, giving way to a shallower scratch without damaging the critical layer of the disc (the layer upon which data is stored). The employee told me over the phone that it would be a free process unless I had several discs, and I found that resurfacing was also very quick and simple. In less than two minutes, I was walking to my car with two resurfaced discs and a full wallet.
The discs showed only a faint sign of the original perfect circles, and both worked to perfection. The process does not guarantee success, but it does do much more for a disc (with no extra damage) than any other method available. Resurfacing machines can cost thousands of dollars, so let someone do it for you. It's free, it works, and it will only increase your chances of experiencing your disc's capabilities again.
To prevent scratches from forming on your discs (even "perfect circle" scratches), use d_skin disc covers. They cover the important (bottom) side of your disc, and are clear, as they are designed to be used on the disc even when it's being used. They are well worth the investment.