Unreadable DVDs
Optical DVD and CD media are discs that over time become damaged, scratched, dirty and thus become illegible. Many people have preserved videos and memories on DVDs and CDs, especially in the golden age of the burner (the first decade of 2000). The duration of CDs and DVDs generally varies between 2 to 15 years so they are a risky backup medium to keep important data over the decades: just think of the wedding video or the videos of family memories, which after already 10 years can be completely illegible.In the following gudia we see together how to try the recover videos from DVDs or CDs that cannot be read by your computer, so as to save what can be saved and move the most important memories to reliable clouds or external hard drives.

READ ALSO -> Recover data, files and photos from damaged CDs or DVDs


The first program that we recommend you to use to recover videos from unreadable or damaged CDs and DVDs is dvdisaster, downloadable for free from the official website.

By starting this app we will be able to accurately scan the data on the optical disc and, in case of errors, they will be shown in the disk-shaped graph, with the possibility of bypassing all errors and recovering as much data as possible. In the case of videos, the recovered content could very well be unreadable after recovery or, at best, we will have a video with some missing or defective parts, which can still be played with an advanced player such as VLC.


If the DVD or CD is badly damaged, Windows will never be able to read it correctly, often encountering errors when reading files and sudden freezes of the player. In order to overcome this problem it may be a good idea to create a bad disk ISO image file, trying to bypass all unreadable areas; for this purpose we can download the tool on the PC IsoPuzzle, available as a portable program from the official website.

Once the program has been downloaded, all we have to do is insert the damaged disk, start the program, choose a folder where to save the new ISO file and press on Start, so as to attempt the (slow) recovery of all the files on the disk and the reconstruction of the disk structure in the ISO format.

If we don’t know how to read an ISO file we can always read our guide Mount virtual CDs and open ISO, IMG and disc image files.


Among the best programs that we can try on a computer to recover videos from unreadable or damaged CDs and DVDs we find IsoBuster, available as a free trial from the official website.

With this program we will be able to access the file system even on damaged or unreadable discs, so that we can recover video contents or any other type of file in an interface very similar to File Explorer. Once you have access to the disk file system, it is better to proceed quickly, copying all the files we are interested in and moving them to a folder of your choice on your computer, so that you can start the file recovery procedure.

Recovery Toolbox

Other valid file recovery program free that we can try is Recovery Toolbox, a tool that recover damaged files of any type on CD, DVD, HD DVD and Blu-Ray disc and that we can download from the official website.
Recovery Toolbox

Recovery Toolbox can find those files that have been lost due to physical damage to the disc (scratches, fingerprints, etc.) or as a result of bad or inaccurate recording and burning. The program scans the failed drive and displays a list of recoverable files and folders. In fact, all we have to do is follow the steps indicated to attempt to recover all the files on the damaged DVD or CD.

Clean scratched disc and optical drive

If none of the above methods worked, we can try cleaning the surface of the scratched or damaged DVD or CD with a dedicated device such as the Q-Sonic CD detergent, shipped by Amazon for less than 60 €.
CD cleaning set

This device is very simple to use and will remove most surface scratches, so that at least part of the optical disc is readable. To proceed, all we have to do is insert the disc into the device, connect the power and start the fully automated cleaning process: all we have to do is wait for the end of the cleaning cycle and try again to read the disc on a player, using one of the programs seen above.

If the DVD player also needs cleaning, we can use cleaning discs like the Fellowes 99761 Cleaning CD for CD / DVD Player, sold and shipped by Amazon for less than 10 €.

To learn more, we can also read our guide on methods for repair a scratched CD or DVD.


Losing personal files saved on disk can become a huge tragedy: luckily we can still use some valid computer tool to force the reading of damaged or illegible discs and, for the most desperate cases, use dedicated cleaning tools, so as to really try them all before throwing the old optical disc into the trash.

Still on the subject of file recovery from disks and media, we invite you to read our guides File recovery from broken disk or dead computer and Programs to recover deleted or lost photos.


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