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CD-DVD drive won't read an older photo disk

By wildbutterfly ยท 9 replies
Mar 6, 2013
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  1. I have two disks that my drive won't read. It read all the others just fine, maybe 20 of them I've switched over to an external hard drive. I'm not sure why these two are being difficult. The older one won't even read. The newer one will read but it won't let me view anything or copy it over. It shows me the files but I can't open them. Is there any other way to get these photos off these disks? I've tried my laptop and my desktop which is older. No luck. Does the operating system matter? If I made the disks using an older operating system do I need to find a computer with that same system?? I know I made the newer one using the desktop I currently own. I'm just lost and frustrated, these pictures are important!
  2. TheHawk

    TheHawk TS Enthusiast Posts: 32   +9

    Hey wildbutterfly. I assume you were able to see and read/view the contents of each DVD disk previously on at least one of your pc's, correct?. Is it a good name brand disk (bought from a reputable dealer since I have seen fake TDK from houseware type stores, or one of the cheaper brands floating around). Try burning a DVD on either system and see if you can read/view it. I think having your prized pics burned to a good quality DVD ( along with an external drive) is the best way to go since any mechanical device can fail. If you were able to read/view these files on DVD before, and can burn and read files now (especially if the disks are the same brand),sounds like the disks might have been damaged in some way.I use a paste like cleaner from 3M for cleaning DVD disks (cleaned from the center straight to the outboard edge).
  3. wildbutterfly

    wildbutterfly TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The disks should all be the same brand. I usually buy a big stack of them and I pretty much just use them for photo storage and the occasional CD. I have no way of knowing though because I put labels on them. :) I'm sure I bought them at Wal-Mart. I always check after I make the disk that it can be read so I'm sure that when I made it, it worked just fine. I haven't looked at some of these since I made them, so, one is almost 10 years old, the other is 4. They've been stored in a CD binder so I will try the cleaner and see if that works. Thank you for the response! I hope the cleaner works!
  4. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,545   +429

    IsoBuster is some software, unfortunately not free, that will change drive speeds and retry reading several times. I think something like that is your best bet here since the CDs are probably not physically scratched or blemished, just the dyes have degraded with age.

    I would bet there is some free software to do what IsoBuster will do, but I couldn't find any in my brief attempt at googling. In my opinion, this is the direction to be moving in.
  5. wildbutterfly

    wildbutterfly TS Rookie Topic Starter

    They don't look damaged in any way. I will look for the software too if the cleaner doesn't help. Thank you! I didn't know something like that even existed!
  6. TheHawk

    TheHawk TS Enthusiast Posts: 32   +9

    I didn't know that existed either. As a side note, about 7 years ago, I bought a stack of no name blank DVD's from a vendor at a pc show. I used them in my Panasonic standalone DVD burner to burn tv shoes,clips,etc. I had a number of them not finalized, but when I tried to finalize them, the process would fail every time. I could only view them. Upon talking to the vendor, he advised me to look on the Panasonic site and see if they have a firmware update for the burner. He said it likely won't be easy to find and he was right. I found a firmware update for my machine buried under layers of menus. After upgrading the firmware, I was able to finalize the disks. I don't know if you are still using the same machine these disks were originally burned on, so you might want to check the burner's site and see if there is a firmware update which may allow it to read older disks if you are using a newer burner.
    What SNGX1275 said concerning the dye's might just be the case. Unfortunately for us, the process to create home CD's and DVD's is different from the process used commercially which to me is a better method since I don't believe they use disks that have dyes like commercial ones do, just a master that has the high and flat spots which is then pressed to create thousands.

    To me, it looks like the safest way to preserve pics,movies and documents would be to have copies on the pc, an external drive, and burned to a few quality name brand disk manufacturers and check them maybe every 2 years or so on the original burner (if available) and a newer machine.
  7. Rabbit01

    Rabbit01 TS Evangelist Posts: 786   +58

    What about use something like ImgBurn, and select the "create image file from disc" and burn the iso to another disc? And use the lowest read speed possible for the process?
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,545   +429

    Rabbit01 - yeah, that may work, I've not used it for something like this, but I assume its like dvddecrypter was and will take multiple attempts at reading bad areas.
  9. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185


    I just had occasion to use PhotoRec freeware on a corrupt 3TB external hard drive (some one accidentally started to format it). I was quite impressed with the result. Give it a try on your CD and let us know the result. I'm quite curious to know. p.s. I found PhotoRec recovered more than just media files.

  10. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    Believe it or not, but CDs/DVDs do have a lifespan of about 20 to 30 years (or longer) depending on quality. The plastics and especially the aluminum will degrade over time depending upon how stored. Higher heat will cause greater degradation. You can try some software to speed or slow the read on a CD player, or even a different reader altogether. Photos I personally tend to back up in multiple locations.

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